University presidents’ testimony to Congress sparks universal outrage

by WorldTribune Staff, December 8, 2023

The presidents of the University of Pennsylvania, MIT, and Harvard University have been attacked from all sides following what critics say was their weak response to antisemitism on their campuses and inability during a congressional hearings to say that “calling for the genocide of Jews” would result in consequences for those saying it.

The House Education and Workforce Committee said it is opening an investigation after members of Congress were outraged with presidents’ answers during a hearing on Tuesday.

The presidents of Harvard, UPenn, and MIT were slammed for their congressional testimony on campus antisemitism. / Video Image

New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, who had intense exchanges on Tuesday with Harvard President Dr. Claudine Gay, UPenn President Liz Magill, and MIT President Dr. Sally Kornbluth, said:

“After this week’s pathetic and morally bankrupt testimony by university presidents when answering my questions, the Education and Workforce Committee is launching an official congressional investigation with the full force of subpoena power into Penn, MIT, Harvard and others. We will use our full congressional authority to hold these schools accountable for their failure on the global stage.”

All three university presidents had said that the question of whether calling for the genocide of Jews would violate their campus conduct codes should be placed into “context.”

“All three presidents said such actions must be placed into context. Yes, people chanting and clamoring for the wholesale murder of Jews must be placed under an academic light because these philosopher queens think we’re too stupid to recognize the neo-Nazi jargon with an Islamic face,”’s Matt Vespa noted.

Harvard’s Gay was given multiple opportunities to say whether there would be consequences for calls for genocide or other antisemitic rhetoric on campus. Stefanik asked Gay if “calling for the genocide of Jews” constitutes bullying and harassment, according to Harvard. Gay said the language is “antisemitic,” but did not say it automatically constitutes bullying or harassment. “When speech crosses into conduct, we take action,” Gay said.

Connecticut Democrat Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Harvard graduate, said he was “outraged” by Gay’s congressional testimony.

“I was outraged that college presidents seemingly said ‘Genocide is okay,’ and said, ‘Well, gotta view the context,’ ” said Blumenthal. “I was shocked, as a Harvard graduate, that these college presidents of some of the leading institutions in the country were seeming to accept this blatant antisemitism. Free speech is good. Intimidation, threatened violence, and death, which is implied by some of what is shouted to individual students on campus to say, ‘Well, we have to know the context for that kind of imminent physical threat.’ That’s unacceptable.”

Reports on Friday said that the University of Pennsylvania is expected to ask Magill to resign.

The news followed the announcement by UPenn donor Ross Stevens that he is withdrawing a gift worth around $100 million to protest Magill’s response to antisemitism on campus. Stevens is the founder and CEO of Stone Ridge Asset Management.

The Ivy League school’s board of trustees held an emergency meeting Thursday and Board chairman Scott Bok was expected to talk to Magill about resigning on Friday, CNN reported.

The move was celebrated by billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, who said she would be “one down.” “There is hope for UPenn,” he wrote while sharing the CNN report.

Amid the criticism of her testimony, Magill on Wednesday issued a statement via video in which she tried to explain her comments by saying she was not “focused” on the issue, and that she wanted to “be clear” that calls for genocide were “evil, plain and simple.”

But she also seemingly blamed university policies and even the U.S. Constitution for allowing the calls for the genocide of Jews to be made on campus.

“There was a moment during yesterday’s congressional hearing on antisemitism when I was asked if a call for the genocide of Jewish people on our campus would violate our policies,” Magill began the two-minute video. “In that moment, I was focused on the university’s long-standing policies — aligned with the U.S. Constitution — which say that speech alone is not punishable.”

Vespa added that Magill “can remain oblivious to the neo-Jihadist takeover of her school and not care one bit about the Jewish students who are being targeted by far-left activist groups who adore Hamas. Magill can continue to be exceptionally dense about whether someone telling a specific ethnic, religious, or racial group that they should be wiped off the face of the Earth is harassment. This is America; she has the right to defend and hold horrific opinions that enable genocide. But it will cost you. America puts up a fight and one that liberals don’t have the mental toughness to endure. A differing opinion is so offensive that they must weaponize institutions to attack and silence their opposition. In this case, it’s allowing lefty students to stage soft pogroms against Jewish students because of…context, right?”

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