News, On Campus

Plane Pulling “Harvard Hates Jews” Banner Flies Over BC and Other Boston-Area College Campuses

Boston College students noticed a plane flying above campus at around 12:30 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, pulling a banner with the Palestinian flag and the words “Harvard Hates Jews.”

“We were all really curious what it was about, and then we squinted, and then we just noticed that it was hate speech,” said Christine Wu, CSOM ’27.

This occurred two days after Harvard University President Claudine Gay testified before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to address anti-Semitism on college campuses.

Gay’s testimony was met with backlash from politicians who believed her remarks did not take a firm enough stance against anti-Semitism.

Wu said the display initially garnered mixed reactions.

“People pulled out their phones and at first … I guess some people thought it was funny, but then other people were just confused,” Wu said. “I’m just wondering who paid money to have that flying up there.”

People spending time with emotional support dogs on Stokes Lawn also saw the plane fly over campus. Kathleen Tullie, one of the dog owners, said she saw the plane circle around the area for about five minutes before it flew away.

Laura Rinaldi, another dog owner, said there were between 30 and 40 people present when the plane flew overhead.

“The people that I was standing with were shocked, which is probably the intention,” Rinaldi said.

The plane also flew over the Harvard University, Boston University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Northeastern University campuses on Thursday.

The Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee, Harvard Jews for Palestine, and Harvard Graduate Students for Palestine issued a joint statement to their respective Instagram accounts on Thursday afternoon, condemning the message as an attempt to “smear pro-Palestine organizing at Harvard.”

“We reject the racist weaponization of the Palestinian flag to create hate and fear on Harvard’s campus, and are disgusted by this antisemetic attempt to target our Jewish community members as they prepare for the first night of Hanukkah,” the post reads.

Neither Associate Vice President for University Communications Jack Dunn nor Harvard University Media Relations responded to The Heights’ requests for comment.

The Anti-Defamation League, a non-governmental organization that combats anti-Semitism, called the display “disturbing,” and said in a social media statement that they were investigating the incident.

According to Tullie, many people who witnessed the plane were shocked. While she said she wished universities like Harvard would better address the problems on their campuses, she didn’t think the plane and banner did anything to improve the situation.

“It’s unfortunate that we live in that type of world right now,” Tullie said. “I do think it’s very unfortunate how the administration at Harvard and Penn and MIT have reacted to everything going on. I wish they would be more proactive, but I also don’t think things like that help.”

December 8, 2023