Letter to the Editor: The Turning Point of Self-Loathing

I am a second cousin, seven times removed, of President George Washington. And I am African-American.

While traveling to Charlottesville on July 26, 2017, I saw a portrait of General Washington kneeling in prayer at Valley Forge. The image stayed with me as an expression of faith in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I made a mental note to purchase the portrait for Christmas.

When I returned home to San Diego, I shared my idea with my family in passing. I thought nothing of it.

My fourteen-year-old erupted in outrage. “Did he own slaves?” she demanded to know. I answered, yes, and he won the American Revolution. “He can’t be on our walls,” she declared with the perspective of a teenager.

Continue reading “Letter to the Editor: The Turning Point of Self-Loathing”

Letter to the Editor: The Destruction of the Constitutional Right of “Freedom of Association” at Harvard University

Recently, the administration leadership at Harvard University has proposed a ban on fraternities, sororities, and “finals clubs”, as well as other organizations. The ban would apply to students who attend university at Harvard. As a graduate of Harvard Law School, I view this as misguided policy. The Constitution of the United States guarantees “freedom of association”.

In my opinion, if this ban goes into effect, members of these clubs simply have to sue Harvard University, in federal court, for violating their constitutional rights. The University will lose these lawsuits, but why make everyone go through that misery? To have a committee of administrators decide which private organizations students can belong to, and which they cannot belong to, is not only a clear violation of the student’s constitutional rights, it is overbearing, downright parental, overly paternalistic, and frightens this freedom-loving citizen.

Let the students make their own decisions, and let the students make their own mistakes. Accountability, legal and otherwise, should always be on an individual basis, not a form of collective punishment, and clearly never a form of collective banishment.

Perhaps the leadership of Harvard University could spend their time better by sitting around a bong, and smoking copious amounts of marijuana, and eating mountains of pop tarts. Then in their heads, they can dream of the dictatorship that they so clearly want to impose on the powerless students of the University. “Hey teachers, leave those kids alone!”

Sincerely,

Charles Facktor
Harvard Law School Class of 1990

We Remember

Like an exclamation point to his entire campaign, Donald Trump appointed Steve Bannon – a man who, at the very least, has perpetuated anti-Semitism – to be his chief strategist.  A message that so many Jewish children in the United States grew up with now rings truer than ever. That message? Don’t get too comfortable.

It is something our parents tell us again and again – you are accepted now, but you never know what tomorrow holds. We are raised on stories of neighbors who turned against our grandparents, of friends who looked away, and a government that did the unthinkable. For Jewish people who can pass as ‘white,’ these stories make us hyper-aware that whiteness granted can be revoked at any time, and that control of that decision always belongs to someone else. Continue reading “We Remember”

Leora Smith, Jake Meiseles, Roi Bachmutsky, Hannah Belitz, Rebecca Harris, Grace Wallack, Jacob Glick, Lauren Kuhlik, Lauren Godles, Brian Pilchik, Daniel Levine-Spound, Edward Delman, and Annie Kurtz are members of The Progressive Jewish Alliance at Harvard Law School, a new student group.

Letter to the Editor: Do not rush to judge Husam El-Qoulaq

To the editor:

I am a Jewish 3L classmate of Husam El-Qoulaq who would also like to remind readers not to rush to judge Husam.

I will start by distinguishing myself from other recent signatories. I believe that the State of Israel is the most moral government in the world, a government that has shown its unwavering commitment to human rights even in the face of endless provocation from Palestinian terrorism. I also believe the disproportionate criticism and demonization of Israel is a sign that anti-Semitism is still very alive and growing in 2016.

Nevertheless, as someone who has known Husam for quite some time and as someone who has had the opportunity to discuss Israeli-Palestinian issues with him on several occasions, I am very confident in saying that Husam is not the anti-Semite the online world is trying to make him out to be. Continue reading “Letter to the Editor: Do not rush to judge Husam El-Qoulaq”

Letter to the Editor: No double standards for free speech

To the editor:

There is no free lunch in the marketplace of ideas. Whenever we share our thoughts, downside risks are created. Some charge headlong into the breach of public scrutiny, while others prefer the relative safety of anonymity.

Recently, there was an alleged anti-Semitic insult hurled at an Israeli politician by an HLS student. The administration attempted to help the student avoid further embarrassment for his careless remark by censoring footage of the event; the Harvard Law Record assisted in this regard by deleting comments on the original letter that named him.

Continue reading “Letter to the Editor: No double standards for free speech”

A Letter in Support of Husam El-Qoulaq

To the editor:

We, the undersigned Jewish students and recent alumni, write in support of our friend and peer Husam El-Qoulaq, and to condemn the efforts we’ve seen to defame his character.

At a recent panel on Palestinian-Israeli negotiations (which notably featured no speaker representing the Palestinian cause), Husam spoke out in protest, as he often does.

To add some context that has gone largely unreported, the target of Husam’s protest that day was Tzipi Livni, a former Israeli Foreign Minister. Livni played a key role in Operation Cast Lead, a 23-day military operation that was condemned by the U.N. and other credible organizations for the brutality it visited upon Palestinian civilians. In 2009, a British judge even issued a warrant to arrest Livni on allegations of war crimes for her involvement in that operation.

Over the years, we’ve seen Husam experiment with many forms of engagement on this issue, from handing out informational fliers to asking pointed substantive questions at events. Earlier this semester he tried a different tactic, calling a male Palestinian speaker a “smelly liar.” He did the same with Livni, asking her during a Q&A how it could be that she was “so smelly.”

We understand those who criticize Husam’s words as disrespectful, reckless, or inappropriate, and we know that he would probably agree with all of those critiques. But based on our own personal experiences with Husam, we reject the charge that our friend is an anti-Semite. Knowing Husam, we could all see that his aim was more mischief than malice. He said more about this in an apology he posted in The Record:
Continue reading “A Letter in Support of Husam El-Qoulaq”

Ralph Nader to Dean Minow: Inform Students About Firm Violations

Dear Dean Minow,

I am writing to request your response, on behalf of Harvard Law School (“HLS”), to the important issues raised by an article published in the Harvard Law Record: Oliver Hall’s What HLS Students Should Know About the Law Firms Recruiting Them…and What the Law Firms Won’t Disclose. Although the article was published at the start of the 2015-2016 school year, HLS does not appear to have issued a formal response. I think you will agree, however, that the issues it raises not only merit a response, but also remedial action that should be undertaken without delay by HLS and law schools across the country.

Oliver Hall, the author of the article, is an attorney who has represented me in several matters. He tells the remarkable story of how he came to the conclusion, in one such case, that a law firm representing an opposing party “not only committed serious ethical violations, but also engaged in conduct which – knowingly or not – enabled a criminal conspiracy to succeed and evade detection.” Nonetheless, Mr. Hall reported, the law firm, Reed Smith, LLP, continues to participate in the On Campus Interview (“OCI) program at HLS, and “according to Assistant Dean for Career Services Mark Weber, the firm is expected to return to HLS this fall, when it will resume recruiting students who likely have no inkling of the relevant facts.” Continue reading “Ralph Nader to Dean Minow: Inform Students About Firm Violations”

Ralph Nader was the Green Party candidate for president in 2000 and a former editor-in-chief of the Record.

HBS Jewish Students Association Writes Letter in Support of JLSA

We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.

                                                                                                            -Karl Popper

Last week, the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School hosted Israeli politician Tzipi Livni for a panel on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. During the Q+A session, a student at Harvard Law School asked Ms. Livni the following: “How is it that you are so smelly? . . . A question about the odor of Ms. Tzipi Livni, she’s very smelly, and I was just wondering.”

Calling Jews “smelly” or “dirty” has a long history. The Nazis promoted the idea to label the Jews an inferior people. In France, the term sale juif (dirty jew) has been the go-to anti-Semitic slur for centuries and in the US, Jewish immigrant neighborhoods were often described by the press as smelly and dirty[1].

Continue reading “HBS Jewish Students Association Writes Letter in Support of JLSA”

Students at Penn Law Issue Statement of Solidarity with JLSA

Dear Students of Harvard Law School,

We were made aware of the disturbing incident that took place at the event you recently hosted featuring Tzipi Livni. The comments that were made during the discussion remind us of the continued presence of intolerance that still pervades much our society. As Jewish people we are unfortunately too aware of this reality, as we have been forced to confront it time and again throughout our history. As Jews, future lawyers, and citizens it is our duty to lead in a manner that promotes broad academic diversity and freedom. While it is essential that, as students, we are exposed to a broad range of opinions and even criticism, it is never acceptable when that dialogue turns into ad hominem attacks.  It is for this reason that we write to you to offer our voice as one of support that condemns any attempts to silence the academic diversity and freedom that is so vital to our communities.

Continue reading “Students at Penn Law Issue Statement of Solidarity with JLSA”

Letter to the Editor: A fitting punishment

To the editor:

Regarding the recent question asked of Tzipi Livni: The question was offensive. Period. I do not think the question itself was anti-Semitic, although the questioner may well be — I don’t know. But the question was a deliberate and juvenile insult, not just to Ms. Livni, and not just to Jews, but to everyone.

Disagreeing with Ms. Livni is fine. Disagreeing vehemently with her is fine. Asking a question designed to draw out what you believe exposes the wrongfulness of her positions or beliefs is fine. Asking a question that any seven year old knows is insulting, irrelevant and stupid — yes, there is such a thing as a stupid question — is obviously unacceptable. It is the antithesis of civilized discourse.

Continue reading “Letter to the Editor: A fitting punishment”

A Disturbing Double Standard

Earlier this week Harvard Law Students received an email from Dean Minow that denounced a comment made by a student at a panel event featuring Tzipi Livni, a former Israeli foreign minster.

Something accidentally left out of Ms. Livni’s bio at the event (probably) was that a British court issued a warrant for her arrest for war crimes committed during the 2008-2009 offensive on Gaza. During that offensive, 1400 Palestinians died, mostly civilians; Israel says it was defending itself against Hamas rocket fire, 13 Israelis died. We’ve all tried to get out of events we didn’t want to attend before but “soz I can’t come, I might get arrested for war crimes” is an excuse that can probably only be used by about two other people, like maybe Al-Bashir and Karadžić, tops.

There are many questions that one might have for Tzipi Livni. Why did you bomb UN schools? How can you deny the humanitarian crisis in Gaza? What moisturiser do you use to give you that youthful genocidal glow? But instead, a student asked about why the speaker was smelly.

Continue reading “A Disturbing Double Standard”

Letter to the Editor: Applause to JLSA leaders, not Harvard

To the editor:

I want to applaud Jon Gartner, Jeremy Salinger, and Jacquie Wolpoe for their remarkable restraint and interest in comity by not publishing the name of the student responsible for the comments to Tzipi Livni this past Thursday. I hope that if the situation was reversed — and a slur (even if “only” an intentionally offensive and delegitimizing but not intentionally racist or sexist insult) was made, affected groups would show the same astounding level of restraint in the interest of furthering dialogue. As the comments were originally made (presumably?) in order to delegitimize the entire event without any substantive dialogue, I also hope that this example leads others to choose to engage in substantive dialogue rather than jumping to conclusions that do nothing to solve complicated and emotionally charged issues.

Having said that, the decision by the Harvard Law administration to release a full video of the event — yet to explicitly censor the obnoxious and senselessly immature comments — bodes poorly on our institution, and demands an explanation or justification.

Continue reading “Letter to the Editor: Applause to JLSA leaders, not Harvard”

Speak Up & Shatter the Ceiling: A Message of Support from Yale Law Women

We write to congratulate the Harvard Women’s Law Association on the publication of their most recent Shatter the Ceiling study, and to emphasize that we are in this fight together. In 2016, it is both disheartening and frustrating that women are still underrepresented on the Harvard Law Review and receive fewer academic honors than men. Yale Law Women’s recent “Speak Up: Now What?” report presented similar findings on women’s underrepresentation in traditionally prestigious academic pursuits at Yale Law School. In our prestige-conscious profession, in which women continue to earn less money and occupy fewer leadership positions than men, these imbalances matter.

Like the WLA, Yale Law Women strives to address gender disparities at our school head-on. The first step towards fixing these problems is to reveal them, in detail. There is no substitute for hard data, and the Shatter the Ceiling study and “Speak Up: Now What?” leave no question that gender inequality at top law schools is real. In the two short years since the YLW report, the data has inspired change at Yale. YLW and other affinity groups forged a partnership with the Yale Law Journal to reach out to women and other historically underrepresented groups to better facilitate their participation. We are also in constant dialogue with Yale Law School administrators and faculty about how to create a law school environment and a legal profession in which women can thrive. Together, we have made important strides, but our work is nowhere near done.

Continue reading “Speak Up & Shatter the Ceiling: A Message of Support from Yale Law Women”

Silverman-Roati: A campaign that means to win

A lot of people have been asking me if my campaign is serious over the last few days.

When the campaign started, I would’ve said no. The world has far too many real problems to take an SGA campaign too seriously. I think part of what I was, and still am, trying to say with this campaign is that maybe we should take Student Government a little less seriously. This school has real problems, and real areas for improvement, and groups like Reclaim are doing dynamic work trying to make this school, and its surrounding communities, a better place. In contrast, tinkering with the Hark and getting new furniture for the lounge, while fine ideas, do not warrant the same level of seriousness. Every year candidates for student government say the same things. And every year they are just as boring and ineffectual as the last.

Continue reading “Silverman-Roati: A campaign that means to win”

Letter to the Editor: Policing Whites and Whiteness at HLS

The following piece was written before I learned of the anti-white racial language directed at my classmate Bill Barlow. Before I learned that “the beauty of Belinda Hall is that whiteness, in all its forms, including the obsession with persuading white allies, does not occupy the center.”  I wholly agree with Reclaim that racism has no place at Harvard Law.  I am now convinced, more than ever, that racism is alive and well at HLS.  But as long as the political left continues to legitimize anti-white racism and use it as a tool to achieve its goals, racial harmony will remain a dream deferred.

Try explaining American racism and discrimination to the Dominican spouse of a Harvard Law student in today’s campus climate.  It can get pretty confusing, but it’s something I have tried to do during the two years that my husband has lived with me as a member of the HLS community.  The greatest challenge is attempting to unpack our community’s struggle with “structural racism” when overt acts of discrimination toward whites and whiteness are common, accepted and openly encouraged.