Harvard Law Student Behind Infamous Oct. 7 Statement Speaks Out, Refuses To Condemn Hamas

Israa Alzamli, who said Jewish state was 'entirely responsible' for Hamas attack, thanks school's anti-Israel 'community' for supporting her

Harvard Law student Israa Alzamli (Harvard Law School)
February 12, 2024

The Harvard Law School student behind the infamous statement that held Israel "entirely responsible" for Hamas's Oct. 7 attack is speaking out, saying in an interview that she stands by the statement and will not condemn the Iran-backed terror group.

Israa Alzamli, a third-year student who served as a research assistant at Harvard's Islamic Law program, was one of the main authors of the statement signed by dozens of Harvard student groups in the wake of the attack, she revealed in an interview with the Boston Globe. While many of those student groups rushed to disassociate themselves from the statement, Alzamli is standing by it—and crediting the anti-Israel "community" at Harvard for supporting her.

"I feel really lucky that there's a community here of people that have been really supporting me," Alzamli told the Globe. She also refused to condemn Hamas, saying she is "not there to decide what means of resistance are acceptable."

Alzamli's interview sheds light on the origins of the statement that started a firestorm at Harvard.

That statement, issued on Oct. 8, held "the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence" and said the "apartheid regime is the only one to blame." The rhetoric brought condemnation from federal lawmakers and prominent donors, many of whom slashed their donations in response. Then-Harvard president Claudine Gay went on to face questions over the statement during her disastrous congressional testimony, which fueled calls for her resignation. Members of Harvard student groups that signed the statement also saw job offers rescinded.

For Alzamli, those reactions were "maddening." The statement, Alzamli told the Globe, merely meant to explore "the circumstances that led people to do certain things that are horrific." Alzamli's reaction to the attack, however, tells a different story. The Harvard student celebrated Hamas's assault on the Jewish state in a text she sent to her fiancé on the morning of Oct. 7, saying, "Gaza literally broke out of prison."

Alzamli, who did not return a request for comment, is a member of the Palestine Solidarity Committee, the anti-Israel activist group that released the Oct. 8 statement. Born in Saudi Arabia to Gazan parents, she grew up in the Chicago area, where she emerged as a self-described "Palestinian liberation" activist at an early age.

"[My parents] instilled in me to remember my land and to know where I was from," she told the Globe, adding that she was "showing pictures of blown up babies since I was in fourth grade." Alzamli has since escalated the tactics behind her anti-Israel advocacy—in November, she confronted Senator Elizabeth Warren at a restaurant in Cambridge, urging the Massachusetts Democrat to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. Warren obliged days later.

In her interview with the Globe, Alzamli also dismissed criticism of the phrases, "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" and, "Globalize the intifada," which call for the eradication of the Jewish state and terrorism against Jews, respectively. "I don't know if my entire family will be wiped out," she said, "and people are over here debating if ‘from the river to the sea’ is a call to genocide."

Alzamli's ultimate goal, she said in the interview, is to "end the occupation" and erode U.S. support for Israel.

"Living in America, you are a citizen of this country's number one ally, number one supporter, number one financial benefactor," Alzamli said. "You have the power to make this a voting issue."