Questions and Answers
Who runs this website?
This site was created and is administered by GSAS Alliance for Justice in the Middle East (AJME), a student group at Harvard University. The website is part of our campaign to shed light on Harvard’s pattern of admitting and hiring individuals with publicly documented records of war crimes and/or human rights abuses.
What do you want to achieve?
We are campaigning for Harvard to adopt a set of rigorous and fair practices to screen for war criminals and serious human rights abusers as part of its admissions and hiring policies. We seek to reach out to the public and inform people about these individuals, their human rights abuses and war crimes, and their Harvard affiliations.
Why does this matter?
Like many other people, human rights abusers seek prestige, nurture ambitions, and hope to advance their careers, and affiliation with a university like Harvard can help serve those goals. Many of the individuals profiled on our site have the adjective "Harvard-trained" approvingly attached to their names in press reports. Just as we believe that the university should be mindful of where it puts its money, we want Harvard to refrain from conferring legitimacy upon, providing networking opportunities to, and investing "cultural capital" in such individuals.
Have you raised this issue with the administration?
In March 2006, we sent a letter to the Harvard administration outlining our concerns, but did not receive a substantive response; when we learned in April 2007 that Dan Halutz was studying at Harvard, we realized that we had little choice but to take our campaign to the public.
How did you pick the people featured on this website?
We have some basic criteria for inclusion in our “Rogues’ Gallery.”
- First, the individual must have a credible and publicly documented record of having committed or having command responsibility for war crimes or serious human rights abuses. We are not interested in mere opinions, institutional affiliation, or "guilt by association," but rather responsibility for specific acts, often with specific victims.
- Second, the abuses and war crimes in question must have taken place before the individual came to Harvard. We are obviously not trying to hold the university accountable for admitting someone who later went on to become a war criminal.
- Third, the individual must have had some sort of affiliation with Harvard University, either as a student, a faculty member, an employee, a research fellow, or a visiting scholar. We are not including mere guest speakers, who should give public presentations and should be similarly challenged in the open.
What kinds of acts qualify as "war crimes or serious human rights abuses"?
Our campaign relies on basic and clearly defined international legal standards. Most of the international rules of war ("international humanitarian law") impose obligations on parties to conflicts, be they states or non-state groups. But some of those rules also impose responsibility on individuals and if violated demand criminal prosecution -- these are called "war crimes" and they include any of the following when committed as part of an armed conflict:
- deliberately targeting civilians
- launching indiscriminate attacks against civilians
- willful killing of protected persons (prisoners, civilians)
- torture or inhuman treatment
- unlawful deportation or transfer of civilians
- willful deprivation of fair trial rights
- taking of hostages
- extensive and unlawful destruction or appropriation of property
What sources do you rely on?
We draw from the work of United Nations bodies, fieldwork-based reports of mainstream human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, reputable national human rights groups, and major national and international media.
Why are most of the suspected war criminals on your website Israelis?
We will include any war criminal or human rights abuser who has been admitted or hired at Harvard, regardless of nationality. At present, we have knowledge of six abusers from Israel, and one from Guatemala. The fact that Israeli army officers figure so prominently may simply point to a pattern of interest on the part of the Israeli government to send officers to Harvard, and/or an interest by Harvard in admitting them. Although AJME's Middle East-related social justice agenda leads us to politically oppose the Israeli occupation, this campaign does not include individuals merely for having served in the occupying army (and indeed, we are not including dossiers on some individuals precisely because we have not found evidence meeting the standards outlined above). In any case, we encourage anyone to join our efforts by sending us information about other candidates, regardless of nationality, to research and include on this website.
Contact us: ajmeharvard at gmail dot com