Harvard University is at the center of controversy for its decision to feature Francesca Albanese, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian territories, as a guest speaker. Albanese, who was recently prohibited entry into Israel due to her comments suggesting the October 7 Hamas attack, which resulted in the deaths of over a thousand civilians, was a “response to Israel’s oppression,” is scheduled to speak at Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.
Despite the ban from Israel announced on the same day as her scheduled talk, the event at Harvard aims to provide a platform for Albanese to share her insights on the Gaza situation and her experiences with Palestinian refugees and migrants. This comes as Harvard faces accusations of not adequately protecting Jewish students from harassment and fostering an environment that enables antisemitism, highlighted by a lawsuit filed by Jewish students against the institution.
Israeli officials have called for Albanese’s permanent dismissal from the United Nations, emphasizing the need for the UN to disavow her “anti-Semitic words” and terminate her position to maintain its relevance. This stance is echoed by a bipartisan group of U.S. Congress members who have previously urged the UN to remove Albanese for her perceived bias against Israel and her failure to condemn terrorist attacks against Israelis.
Albanese’s upcoming engagement at Harvard adds to the growing concerns about the university’s handling of issues related to anti-Semitism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, further complicating the debate around academic freedom and the propagation of controversial viewpoints within educational institutions.