Harvard Students Slapped With Criminal Charges for Accosting Israeli Classmate

Ivy League school mum on whether it will award degrees to Elom Tettey-Tamaklo and Ibrahim Bharmal amid ongoing judicial proceedings

Elom Tettey-Tamaklo, others attack Israeli student (Screenshot)
May 15, 2024

The Harvard University graduate students who accosted an Israeli classmate last October have been slapped with criminal charges, court filings reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon show.

The students, identified in a Free Beacon report as divinity school graduate student Elom Tettey-Tamaklo and Harvard Law Review editor Ibrahim Bharmal, were each charged with two misdemeanors on May 9.

The charges stem from their conduct at an Oct. 18 "die-in" protest held outside of Harvard Business School. Tettey-Tamaklo and Bharmal were captured on camera accosting a first-year Israeli business school student, surrounding the student and making it difficult for him to walk freely, as keffiyeh-clad onlookers shouted, "SHAME!"

The students are charged with misdemeanor assault and battery and with violations of the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act, which prohibits attempts to "intimidate or interfere with … any other person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the constitution." Tettey-Tamaklo and Bharmal are expected back in court next month for their arraignments and face up to 100 days in jail for each count.

It's unclear how Harvard, which has issued no comment about the incident and did not respond to requests for comment about whether it has taken any disciplinary action against Tettey-Tamaklo and Bharmal, plans to respond to the charges—including whether the school will award the students degrees while judicial proceedings are ongoing.

Both Tettey-Tamaklo and Bharmal remained in good standing with the school in the wake of the "die-in." While Harvard removed Tettey-Tamaklo from his role as a freshman proctor in November, the school did "nothing to sanction" him otherwise, according to a January legal complaint. Bharmal avoided discipline altogether, the complaint said.

On his LinkedIn, meanwhile, Tettey-Tamaklo says he is set to graduate from Harvard this month, before the conclusion of his criminal case. Harvard, however, has disputed that claim: University spokesman Jonathan Swain said in a statement last month that Tettey-Tamaklo "is not scheduled to graduate in May 2024." Nonetheless, the school has made no indication whether it will award Tettey-Tamaklo and Bharmal degrees if the proceedings are ongoing or if they are convicted.

Harvard has faced congressional criticism over its handling of the incident.

In a letter sent to interim Harvard president Alan Garber and Harvard Corporation head Penny Pritzker in April, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) said the school has produced "no evidence of punishment against those who have committed crimes and violated Harvard's code of conduct."

"Justice for this incident should have been served quickly," Stefanik wrote, "and the delay of justice that specifically allows an antisemitic student to graduate is an affront to accountability and demonstrates the cultural rot of Harvard University's leadership that has allowed antisemitism to continue."

During the now-infamous "die-in," Tettey-Tamaklo and Bharmal were filmed pushing and shoving the Israeli student as others surrounded him, using keffiyehs to block their own faces and the Israeli student's view. The protesters repeatedly shouted, "SHAME!" as the Jewish student said, "Don't grab me," and "Don't touch my neck."

Footage of the incident was first reported by the Free Beacon.

Following the ordeal, Harvard scrubbed Tettey-Tamaklo's online bio, a move that came as the school launched a task force to assist student protesters whose names were publicized after they blamed Israel for Hamas's Oct. 7 terror attack. Harvard later removed Tettey-Tamaklo from his role as a freshman proctor, a supervisory role in which graduate students live among freshmen.

In March 2023, while serving as a proctor, Tettey-Tamaklo wrote an article for the Institute for Palestine Studies that glorified Palestinian terrorist Fatima Bernawi, who was imprisoned for her role in an attempted bombing of a Jerusalem movie theater 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. "However, one woman's story struck me and has stayed with me ever since: Fatima Bernawi."

"A true appreciation and celebration of underrepresented histories of Palestinian women like Bernawi—among others—cannot be relegated to the dusty corridors of history," the Harvard student wrote.

Garber on Tuesday struck a deal with dozens of unsanctioned protesters who occupied the school's lawn for the past three weeks: He agreed to meet with student protesters to discuss divestment from Israel and to initiate "reinstatement proceedings" for suspended encampment members in exchange for their willingness to clear the illegal encampment ahead of graduation ceremonies later this month.