Education

Meet The Brilliant Harvard Student Who Called A Jewish Politician ‘Smelly’

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Blake Neff Reporter

The name of the Harvard student who asked a visiting Israeli politician why she was “so smelly” has been revealed. The student is a leader in Harvard’s Arab community with a history of anti-Israeli activism. Not only that, but he’s also a man looking for a job, making his public stunt look like an incredibly bad idea.

Last week, Husam El-Qoulaq rudely disrupted a panel featuring Israeli politician Tzipi Livni to ask her why she was “so smelly.”

“I’m question (sic) about the odor of Tzipi Livni, very smelly, and I was just wondering,” El-Qoulaq said to a confused panel.

Despite his remarks being very public, it took nearly a week before El-Qoulaq’s statements attracted wider notice, with several Jewish media outlets expressing outrage at the stunt on Wednesday. Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow strongly condemned the behavior in a school-wide email. El-Qoulaq issued an apology as well, claiming he was unaware that assigning a pungent odor to Jewish people has long been a part of anti-Semitic propaganda. El-Qoulaq suggested that he was just trying to make a rude personal attack on Livni rather than an attack on all Jews in general.

But despite the fact that the “smelly” question was made at a very public event with numerous eyewitnesses, Harvard and others have tried very hard to suppress El-Qoulaq’s identity. His name wasn’t included in Minow’s email condemnation, it wasn’t added to his apology in the Harvard Law Record (despite his invitation to have offended Harvard students reach out to him), and a video recording of the event was even censored to take out his question, thereby preventing it from aiding in his identification.

It wasn’t enough, though. On Wednesday night, Qoulaq’s identity was announced by writer and pro-Israel advocate Noah Pollak, who said he confirmed Qoulaq’s identity with multiple eyewitnesses.

El-Qoulaq (whose surname is also spelled El-Coolaq) is in his third year at Harvard Law (after getting into the school at just 20 years old) and is a leader with the group Harvard Law School Justice for Palestine.

Since news of his stunt began spreading, El-Qoulaq has been hastily scrubbing his online presence. His Twitter account has disappeared, as has his LinkedIn profile (though it still appears in Google searches), and he also deleted a profile on the business start-up website Angel. Not only that, but a profile of El-Qoulaq has been scrubbed from the page of the Harvard Arab Students Association (compare the current version with this recent screengrab).

El-Qoulaq’s online efforts may be related to a desire to avoid being toxic on the job market, since he is just days away from graduating.

“Husam would like the attendees of Harvard Arab Weekend to know that he is actively soliciting any and all offers of employment, with a slight preference for those that would keep him a safe distance away from the legal profession,” his now-vanished profile said.

Notably, Qoulaq’s Livni stunt isn’t the first time he’s been linked to the disruption of an Israeli speaker. In 2010, 11 students at the University of California, Irvine were arrested for disrupting a speech by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren. In 2011, Qoulaq took part in a protest at the University of California, Berkeley supporting them, saying their arrest was part of an effort to “quell the Palestinian narrative.”

El-Qoulaq did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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