Harvard Grad Student Who Accosted Israeli Classmate and Supervised Undergraduate Students Glorified Convicted Palestinian Terrorist

Elom Tettey-Tamaklo praised failed suicide bomber Fatima Bernawi in a 2023 essay

Elom Tettey-Tamaklo, others attack Israeli student (Screenshot)
March 12, 2024

Elom Tettey-Tamaklo, the Harvard University graduate student who was filmed accosting an Israeli classmate at a campus protest, penned an essay last year glorifying a Palestinian terrorist who was imprisoned for her role in attempting to bomb a movie theater in Jerusalem in 1967.

"When I started learning about Palestine, I was always struck by the women who featured prominently in the movement's work," Tettey-Tamaklo wrote in a March 2023 article published in the Institute for Palestine Studies. "However, one woman's story struck me and has stayed with me ever since: Fatima Bernawi."

Regarded as the first female Palestinian terrorist, Bernawi attempted to bomb the Zion Cinema in downtown Jerusalem in 1967 by leaving an explosive in her handbag. An American tourist spotted the bag and alerted an usher, foiling the plot. Bernawi was nonetheless sentenced to life in prison and said subsequently that her attempted terrorist attack was not a "failure" given that it "generated fear throughout the world."

"Every woman who carries a bag needs to be checked before she enters the supermarket, any place, cinemas and pharmacies," Bernawi said in a 2015 interview. "All my life I had dreamed about it," she said.

Tettey-Tamaklo's essay refers to the attack approvingly. He writes that Bernawi "nearly carried out an attack on an Israeli establishment frequented by Occupation Forces (IOF)" and subsequently made "history as the first woman to be arrested by the IOF."

He concludes that "a true appreciation and celebration of underrepresented histories of Palestinian women like Bernawi—among others—cannot be relegated to the dusty corridors of history."

At the time the essay was published, Tettey-Tamaklo, a second-year student at the Harvard Divinity School, served as a proctor, a supervisory role in which graduate students live among freshmen and support their "adjustment to Harvard."

Tettey-Tamaklo was removed from that role, however, after he was captured on video accosting a Jewish student at an October "die-in" protest held on Harvard's campus to assail Israel's retaliatory attacks on Hamas.

Tettey-Tamaklo and other protesters pushed, shoved, and surrounded the Jewish student, using keffiyehs to block their own faces and the Jewish student's view, according to footage first reported by the Washington Free Beacon. The protesters repeatedly shouted "SHAME!" as the Jewish student said "don't grab me" and "don't touch my neck."

Prominent Harvard Business School alumni cited the ordeal as proof that the Ivy League institution failed to protect its Jewish attendees. Weeks after the letter's publication, in November, Harvard "indefinitely relieved" Tettey-Tamaklo of his proctor duties.

Tettey-Tamaklo's allies on Harvard's campus responded by circulating a petition that demanded Harvard reinstate the Divinity School student. The Harvard Law Record published a December article arguing that Tettey-Tamaklo was a "peaceful protester" attempting to "de-escalate" a "minor confrontation" between the Jewish student and protest attendees.

It's unclear if Harvard was aware of Tettey-Tamaklo's essay when it tapped the divinity school student to serve as a freshman proctor. The school did not respond to a request for comment.

Notwithstanding Harvard's decision to strip Tettey-Tamaklo of his proctor rule, he remains in good standing with the school, according to a January lawsuit that accuses Harvard of failing to combat "outrageous antisemitic conduct."