U.S. Briefs: Support for Hamas roils Harvard | WORLD
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U.S. Briefs: Support for Hamas roils Harvard

Administrators are in hot water with donors for failing to respond quickly to pro-Palestinian protest

Protesters gather at Harvard to show their support for Palestinians in Gaza. Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. Briefs: Support for Hamas roils Harvard
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Harvard is in hot water with donors after administrators failed to respond quickly to a pro-­Palestinian student missive following the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in Israel.

Just a day after the brutality, more than 30 student organizations at the Ivy League institution signed a statement condemning Israel for “all the unfolding violence.” The letter prompted outrage among supporters like billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, who has reportedly given more than $26 million to the school. Ackman called on Harvard to release the names of student signers to prevent CEOs from hiring them. In a post on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, Ackman reasoned corporate heads need the information to vet potential employees: “Would you hire someone who was a member of a school club who issued a statement blaming lynchings by the KKK on their victims? I don’t think so.”

The Wexner Foundation also cut ties with the school Oct. 16. The nonprofit’s leaders said they were “stunned and sickened by the dismal failure of Harvard’s leadership to take a clear and unequivocal stand against the barbaric murders of innocent Israeli civilians.” The foundation annually paid for up to 10 Israeli government and public service professionals to pursue a one-year degree from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Harvard President Claudine Gay addressed the student letter on Oct. 10, emphasizing both her personal condemnation of the Hamas atrocities and students’ right to speak for themselves: “No student group—not even 30 student groups—speaks for the institution or its leadership.”

Despite Gay’s response, Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer said his faith in the university’s leaders is broken. He and his wife resigned from one of Harvard’s executive boards.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Harvard grad and the ­highest-ranking Jewish leader in Congress in history, responded to the student ­letter in a Senate floor speech. “Let us be clear, Hamas is an evil ­organization that wants to see Israel wiped off the face of the map. They don’t believe in a two-state solution. They want no Israel and no Jews living between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. Eliminating Israel is part of their charter.”

The clash has also hit campuses like Stanford, Columbia, Penn State, and Yale, and the consequences affect more than just donor checkbooks. Law firm Winston & Strawn rescinded a job offer for a New York University student after she penned a viral anti-Israel newsletter. —Kim Henderson

Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer


In a historic election on Oct. 13, more than 500 doctors and clinicians at Allina Health voted to unionize. The move would make it the nation’s largest private-sector union of advanced care practitioners. Doctors, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners say the union will help them improve working conditions, leading to better patient care. They cite a broken system made worse by the pandemic: little time with patients due to overbooking, few support staff, and unrealistic productivity demands. One study found family physicians spend six hours of an 11-hour day on paperwork. The vote reflects discontent with healthcare consolidations like Allina that many doctors feel compelled to join. Costs, complex regulations, and insurance demands make it difficult for many doctors to run their own practices. Only 7 percent of doctors are unionized, but experts say the recent vote may inspire others. Allina, which still must recognize the union, expressed disappointment, noting it’s been nationally recognized as a top place to work in the healthcare field. —Sharon Dierberger

The Romeikes

The Romeikes Home School Legal Defense Association


A German homeschooling family facing imminent deportation got a reprieve on Oct. 11 when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials gave them another year to remain in the country. Uwe and Hannelore Romeike fled with their five children to the United States and requested political asylum after German authorities threatened to prosecute them and take their children. They have lived in Tennessee for the last 15 years. Homeschooling in Germany is illegal and considered a threat to pluralism, tolerance, and democracy. An immigration judge granted the Romeikes’ asylum request in 2010. The U.S. government appealed the decision and won. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case in 2014, and the Romeikes, who now have seven children, received an “indefinite deferred action status.” In September, ICE officials told them they had one month to leave the country. —Todd Vician


A push to decriminalize hallucinogens fell flat after Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed the measure on Oct. 7. The bill would have allowed those 21 and older to possess certain psychedelics, including psilocybin mushrooms. Newsom said in a statement that more guidelines must be put in place before the state decriminalizes these drugs. He called on state health officials to begin work on treatment regulations that include dosing information, therapeutic ­guidelines, and rules to prevent exploitation during guided treatments. He also wants to ensure no one with underlying psychoses can access the substances. Hallucinogenic drugs are illegal under federal law. But they are increasingly being touted as having therapeutic value to treat a variety of mental illnesses, including depression and PTSD. Oregon and Colorado have already approved a regulated system for substances such as psilocybin and psilocin, hallucinogens contained in some mushrooms. —Mary Jackson


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