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Harvard protests end with whimper as Israel divestment demands fail

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Aerial view of Harvard yard, where a pro-Palestine encampment was set up with student in tents and protest signs.

Bloomberg, May 2014

Pro-Palestinian protesters at Harvard University are clearing out their weeks-long encampment without achieving their primary demand: forcing the school to cut its financial ties to Israel. It’s become a pattern. Demonstrators at Northwestern and Brown also took down their tents and tables recently, assuaged by the schools’ promises to consider their pleas. The protesters initially viewed this as progress in their Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaigns to drive the universities’ endowments to divest from the Jewish state and weapons makers. They are now confronting a tough reality: Their schools aren’t going to do it.

“We are under no illusions: we do not believe these meetings are divestment wins,” the group Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine wrote in an Instagram post. “These side-deals are intended to pacify us away from full disclosure & divestment.” Harvard has agreed to consider requests to reinstate students who were suspended for taking part in protests, but will continue disciplinary proceedings that could result in official admonishments or expulsions, according to a university spokesperson. President Alan Garber will “pursue a meeting” between demonstrators and the chair of the committee that oversees shareholder responsibility as well as other university leaders, the spokesperson said. Harvard will answer questions about its endowment and will not discuss divestment.

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