Harvard department to host pro-Hamas author

Harvard University has invited author Tareq Baconi to speak on campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts on April 18.

In 2018, Baconi released a book that claimed that Hamas 'is a multifaceted liberation organization, one rooted in the nationalist claims of the Palestinian people,' rather than a terrorist group.

An Ivy League institution has scheduled a pro-Hamas advocate to talk on campus.

Harvard University has invited author Tareq Baconi to speak in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The event, entitled “Gaza as Epicenter: An Alternative Reading,” is scheduled for April 18 and will be hosted by Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

Four days after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack against Israel, Baconi interviewed with Jewish Currents, stating that the motivation for Hamas’ attacks was not anti-Semitism but rather a drive for liberation.

He noted that it was important to “push back against any effort to try to suggest this was driven by antisemitism, because doing that also completely erases any motivation that imprisoned people might have in breaking out of their prison.” 

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Baconi stated that the attack was not “driven by hatred and bloodlust,” but rather “by a regime of oppression that has held 2 million Palestinians captive for 16 years and was ready to continue to do that indefinitely.”

Baconi also stated in an interview with Ezra Klein of The New York Times in December that Hamas is, at least in part, a “political body” that fights for “liberation.”

“The movement is also a political body. It’s also a social infrastructure,” Baconi argued. “And so even if Hamas were to be removed, that ideology of commitment to armed resistance for liberation would manifest in a different movement.”

“So the idea that Hamas can be destroyed or that that threat can be removed is nonsensical,” Baconi continued. “And it might be the case that Hamas actually isn’t able to operate for quite a long period of time, but what we’ve learned from the past 16 years, and we’ve known that a long time, but it’s now apparent, is that Hamas is playing the long game.”

In 2018, Baconi published a book, Hamas Contained: The Rise and Pacification of Palestinian Resistance, in which he defends Hamas from accusations of being a terrorist group.

“Hamas Contained offers the first history of the group on its own terms,” the book’s description states. “Drawing on interviews with organization leaders, as well as publications from the group, Tareq Baconi maps Hamas’s thirty-year transition from fringe military resistance towards governance.”

“Hamas rules Gaza and the lives of the two million Palestinians who live there,” the work’s description continues. “Demonized in media and policy debates, various accusations and critical assumptions have been used to justify extreme military action against Hamas.”

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The book argues that the situation about Hamas is “complex,” but notes that the entity it is a “multifaceted liberation organization,” not a “terrorist group.”

“The reality of Hamas is, of course, far more complex,” Baconi writes. “Neither a democratic political party nor a terrorist group, Hamas is a multifaceted liberation organization, one rooted in the nationalist claims of the Palestinian people.”

Baconi is the president of the board of Al-Shabaka, a think tank that “[envisions] the Palestinian people articulating and determining the contours of a liberated future.”

Campus Reform has contacted Harvard University and Al-Shabaka for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.