As pressure mounted

The tension between free speech and discouraging genocide continues.

Harvard University’s president apologized as pressure mounted for the University of Pennsylvania’s president to resign over their testimony at a congressional hearing on antisemitism that critics from the White House on down say failed to show that they would stand up to antisemitism on campus.

“Their” testimony meaning Harvard’s and U Penn’s. I thought at first that was some weird random gender neutral wording but then managed to figure it out.

In an interview Thursday with The Crimson student newspaper, Harvard President Claudine Gay said she got caught up in a heated exchange at the House committee hearing and failed to properly denounce threats of violence against Jewish students.

Gay told The Crimson she was sorry, saying she “got caught up in what had become at that point, an extended, combative exchange about policies and procedures.”

“What I should have had the presence of mind to do in that moment was return to my guiding truth, which is that calls for violence against our Jewish community — threats to our Jewish students — have no place at Harvard, and will never go unchallenged,” Gay said.

Universities across the U.S. have been accused of failing to protect Jewish students amid reports of growing antisemitism following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel. The three presidents were called before the committee to answer those accusations, but their lawyerly answers drew renewed blowback from opponents.

The episode has marred Gay’s early tenure at Harvard — she became president in July — and sowed discord at the Ivy League campus. On Thursday, Rabbi David Wolpe resigned from a new committee on antisemitism created by Gay.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Wolpe said “events on campus and the painfully inadequate testimony reinforced the idea that I cannot make the sort of difference I had hoped.” A statement from Gay thanked Wolpe for his work, saying he helped deepen her understanding “of the unacceptable presence of antisemitism here at Harvard.”

See: Tom Lehrer’s “National Brotherhood Week.”

8 Responses to “As pressure mounted”

Leave a Comment

Subscribe without commenting