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Harvard president apologizes after backlash over remarks at antisemitism hearing

Harvard University President Claudine Gay apologized for comments she made during Tuesday's House anti-Semitism hearing, carefully parsing her language on free speech that has prompted calls for her resignation.

Gay said Tuesday after Rep. Elise Stefanik (RN.Y.) asked, “Does calling for the extermination of Jews at Harvard University violate Harvard's Bullying and Harassment Rules?” He had a heated exchange with the senator.

Gay said it could be a violation of the policy “in some circumstances”, adding: “When anti-Semitic speech amounts to bullying, harassment or intimidation, it is actionable and we will We will take action.”

In an interview Thursday with the student newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, she apologized for the interaction.

“I'm sorry,” Gay told the outlet. “Words are important”

“When words amplify suffering and pain, why can't we feel anything other than regret?” she added.

The backlash against Harvard and the two other universities was swift and intense, with Stefanik and Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-Calif.), a Harvard alumnus, saying Gay should resign.

Rabbi David Wolpe announced Thursday that he is resigning from a Harvard University advisory group aimed at combating anti-Semitism, citing the university's climate and gay testimony.

The White House declared: “I can't believe we even have to say this. Calls for genocide are monstrous and go against everything we stand for as a nation.”

“At that point, I became embroiled in a long and combative exchange about policy and procedure,” Gay told the student newspaper. “What I should have done in that moment was to remain calm and follow my guidelines that calls for violence against the Jewish community, threats against Jewish students, have no place at Harvard and will never be challenged. It was about returning to the truth.”

“Effectively, I couldn't tell my truth,” she said.

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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