An Open Letter to the Harvard Law Forum

February 27, 2019

Martin Drake
Harvard Law School Forum
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138

Dear President Drake:

You are an honorable man. Board Members of the Harvard Law School Forum are honorable. That explains my chagrin at the surprise O Henry ending to my invitation to address the Forum about limitless executive power on March 1, 2019.

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An Open Letter on the Public Interest Scavenger Hunt

Dear Harvard Law School Community,

With the new semester underway, we are excited to announce the return of a great Harvard Law School tradition: The Public Interest Scavenger Hunt is back, and will be taking place on Friday, March 8th, 2019!

As the 3L class knows, this tradition was born with us, when we were 1Ls. And as the Hunt’s inaugural class prepares to graduate, we are redoubling the event’s commitment and connection to its core mission: promoting and supporting the Public Interest Community here at HLS. Toward that end, we are excited to announce that this year we are uniting the Hunt with another great Harvard Law School tradition: The One Day’s Work Pledge.

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An Open Letter on the Clerkship Hiring Pilot, Signed by 38 Student Groups

February 4, 2019

We, a collection of student-led organizations at Harvard Law School, are writing to affirm our strong support for Harvard’s participation in the Clerkship Hiring Pilot that will span the next two years. We also write to reinforce our commitment to encourage our respective memberships to adhere to the requirements put forward in the plan.

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Ten Student Organizations Call for Committee on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity

We, the undersigned organizations, are a coalition of affinity groups at Harvard Law School representing hundreds of students, millions of dollars, and countless hours of physical, intellectual, and emotional labor. While our specific organizations vary in membership, programming, and mission, we share a unified purpose: to promote diversity, inclusion, and equity. This purpose mandates we take action to change the status quo.

We call on Dean Manning to establish a Harvard Law School Committee on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity (“Committee”) charged with designing an Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity (“Office”); tracking implementation and progress on the Office; and monitoring the wellbeing of students until one year after the operation of the Office.

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Open Letter: We Condemn President Trump’s Incitement of Violence

To our students and the wider HLS community,

We write to condemn a series of acts by President Trump that incite violence and are inconsistent with a democratic legal order.  On November 29th, the President circulated unverified videos that explicitly vilified members of a religious community as dangerous.  In his tweet, the videos appeared without any comment, context, or explanation, as if the fact that they concerned “Muslim” actors itself established their relevance.   In that way, the videos justified hostility towards individuals on the ground of their faith alone.  The President’s message further endorsed violence insofar as it expressly retweeted, thus apparently approving, a source convicted of religiously aggravated harassment.

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Letter to the Editor: Don’t Use the R-Word in Football Coverage

Dear Editorial Board,

As a Native American and proud alumnus of Harvard Law School, I was very disappointed to see your esteemed publication use the dictionary-defined R-word slur last week in your coverage of the Washington NFL team. I am writing today to respectfully request that you join other leading media organizations in refraining from using the offensive epithet in your future reporting.

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Dear Community: Condemn Intent Behind Stickers

Dear Community,

On the evening of October 31, stickers with the words, “IT’S OKAY TO BE WHITE,” were posted around the entrance of WCC. Similar stickers appeared around Cambridge and other parts of the United States and Canada. According to an online forum, the stickers were intended to convey a “harmless” message that would leave “the media & leftists frothing at the mouth” and turn public opinion against them.

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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.

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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!”


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”

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.

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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:
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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”

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].

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