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Posts Misrepresent Raising of Palestinian Flags at Harvard

Este artículo estará disponible en español en El Tiempo Latino.

Quick Take

Protesters against the war in Gaza raised three Palestinian flags on the Harvard University campus on April 27. Social media posts misleadingly claimed the university “replaced the American flag with the Palestinian flag.” The Palestinian flags were removed by Harvard staff shortly after they were raised by the protesters.

Full Story

The rising toll of the war in the Gaza Strip, which began after the Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, has sparked student protests on university campuses across the United States. About 1,200 Israelis were killed in the initial attack, about 250 people were taken hostage, and more than 250 Israeli soldiers have died in the ensuing war. In Gaza, more than 33,700 Palestinians have died as a result of retaliatory strikes by Israeli forces as of April 15, according to United Nations data, based on Gaza Ministry of Health reporting, compiled by Statista.

Students protesting the ongoing war in Gaza have held mostly peaceful but tense demonstrations and sit-ins and have set up encampments on campuses. College officials have sometimes responded with suspensions and expulsions, and police have arrested hundreds of students for trespassing or failure to disperse.

But the official response by Harvard University — where then-President Claudine Gay resigned in January amid conservative criticism of her handling of the protests and accusations of plagiarism — has been misrepresented on social media.

A person walks past an encampment in Harvard Yard on April 28 as Harvard University students protest the war in Gaza. Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images.

An April 28 post on Facebook misleadingly claims, “Harvard has REPLACED the American flag with the Palestinian flag. Once Harvard and now Hamas University.” A 36-second video in the post shows several people raising a Palestinian flag over a statue of 17th-century college benefactor John Harvard on the campus.

Conservative commentator Graham Allen shared a similar message in an April 28 post on X, adding, “They are teaching students to HATE America. Pull their funding.” Allen’s post received more than 5 million views, according to the platform.

The university, however, did not hoist the Palestinian flag, as the posts claim.

Three Palestinian flags were raised by protesters on April 27 over the John Harvard statue, the Harvard Crimson reported. The first flag was raised at 6 p.m., the second at 6:18 p.m. and the third at 6:23 p.m.

University staff were called to remove the flags shortly after 6:30 p.m., the Boston Globe reported.

A spokesperson for the university emailed a statement to us saying, “The flags raised by protesters over University Hall were removed by Harvard facilities staff. The protesters’ actions are a violation of University policy and the individuals involved will be subject to disciplinary action.”

The statement, released on April 27, did not say what disciplinary action was being considered.

The Harvard statement also said, “The American flag was not flying on University Hall at the time the other flags were raised. University procedures are that the American flag is raised on University Hall each Monday through Friday at 7am and lowered at 4pm for proper storage.”

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.


Andone, Dakin. “How universities are cracking down on a swell of tension months into student protests over Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.” CNN. 29 Apr 2024.

Berger, Ava. “Palestinian flags raised in Harvard Yard over the weekend spark outrage.” Boston Globe. 29 Apr 2024.

Federman, Josef and Issam Adwan. “Hamas surprise attack out of Gaza stuns Israel and leaves hundreds dead in fighting, retaliation.” Associated Press. 7 Oct 2023.

Harvard University. Email from spokesperson. 30 Apr 2024.

Harvard University. “Statement Apr. 27.” 27 Apr 2024.

Hung, Madeleine A. and Joyce E. Kim. “Encampment Protesters Briefly Raise 3 Palestinian Flags Over Harvard Yard.” The Harvard Crimson. 27 Apr 2024.

Jeffery, Jack and Josef Federman. “Hamas releases video showing well-known Israeli-American hostage.” Associated Press. 24 Apr 2024.

Schuessler, Jennifer, et al. “Harvard President Resigns After Mounting Plagiarism Accusations.” New York Times. Updated 3 Jan 2024.

Statista. “Number of Palestinian and Israeli fatalities and injuries caused by war between Hamas and Israel since October 7, 2023.” Accessed 30 Apr 2024.