Presidents of top universities are reluctant to punish or censure students and faculty who took part in anti-Semitic demonstrations in the wake of the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by the terrorist group Hamas, the White House press secretary said Wednesday. There was no immediate comment from President Biden.
In a heated House hearing Tuesday, lawmakers slammed the presidents of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology over their responses to anti-Semitism on their campuses.
Harvard University President Dr. Claudine Gay came under particular fire for dodging questions about whether calls for an “intifada” violated the Ivy League school’s code of conduct.
“I can’t believe we even have to say this. The calls for genocide are monstrous, and the calls for genocide are monstrous, and the voices of all we represent as a nation,” said Andrew Bates, White House senior communications adviser and deputy press secretary. It’s against the grain,” he said. stated in a statement.
“Any statement defending the systematic murder of Jews is dangerous and repugnant, and we all stand by human dignity and the most fundamental values that unite us as Americans. , we should firmly oppose them.”
Whether Americans will hear directly about this from Biden, who has made repeated accusations of anti-Semitism and statements against Islamophobia since the jihadist atrocity that killed about 1,200 people, including 33 Americans. The White House did not immediately respond to inquiries about the matter.
House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), a Harvard graduate, led the questioning of Gay, who took over as president of the university in July.
At one point, Stefanik asked whether phrases heard during protests at Harvard University, such as “There’s only one solution, the intifada revolution” and “globalize the intifada,” complied with the code of conduct. I thoroughly dug into it.
Stefanik explained, “In the context of the Israeli-Arab conflict, ‘intifada’ is precisely a call for violent armed resistance against the State of Israel, including violence against civilians and the slaughter of Jews.”
“Such hate speech is personally abhorrent to me,” Gay said, repeatedly dodging the question. “That is inconsistent with Harvard’s values.”
She emphasized that Harvard University is “committed to freedom of expression and gives wide scope to freedom of expression, even for offensive views.”
By the end of the exchange, Mr. Stefanik called for Mr. Gay’s resignation.
University of Pennsylvania President Liz McGill also faced backlash after an exchange with Stefanik in which she asked whether calling for the genocide of Jews constitutes bullying or harassment.
“If it’s directed, serious and pervasive, then it’s harassment,” McGill said. “It’s a situational decision.”
On Wednesday, Harvard University sought to clear up the gay confusion by issuing a statement on X that was attributed to its president.
“Some people confuse the right to free expression with the idea that Harvard condones calls for violence against Jewish students,” she says. “Let me be clear: Calls for violence or genocide against the Jewish community, or any religious or ethnic group, are despicable and have no place at Harvard. Those who threatened Jewish students will be held accountable.”
This infuriated Stefanik even more, to which he replied: No one is confused about this desperate attempt to brush off your pathetic anti-Semitic answers from yesterday. Moral depravity and shame cannot be undone. And everyone around the world knows it. ”
Stefanik added in another tweet: “It’s long past time for Claudine Gay to step down.” “She needs to be fired.”
Ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, Republicans highlighted the experiences of four Jewish students at these institutions who spoke of their harrowing experiences on campus.
Since the attack, there has been an explosion of anti-Semitic hate crimes across the country. 214% jump in New York City Alone during October.