In a recent congressional hearing on antisemitism, central university presidents faced criticism for their responses to questions regarding calls to commit genocide against the Jewish people in Israel and globally. Harvard President Dr. Claudine Gay and the University of Pennsylvania President Liz McGill were scrutinized for their reluctance to address whether such calls violated their respective institutions’ codes of conduct.
During the hearing, Dr. Gay defended Harvard’s commitment to free expression, stating that they allow a wide range of views, even those that may be objectionable. McGill, on the other hand, argued that the context should be considered when determining if calls for genocide amounted to harassment.
The response from the Biden White House was swift and unequivocal. Andrew Bates, the White House deputy press secretary and senior communications advisor, expressed his disbelief that the issue must be addressed. He emphasized that calls for genocide are monstrous and utterly contrary to the values that America represents. Bates called for unity in standing against any statements advocating for the systematic murder of Jews, reaffirming the importance of human dignity and fundamental American values.
The urgency of addressing antisemitism and hate crimes against the Jewish community was highlighted in the wake of the October 7 terror attack on Israel. Statistics reveal a significant increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes, with New York City witnessing a staggering 214 percent year-over-year rise in such incidents in October alone.
These alarming figures serve as a reminder that American Jews are disproportionately targeted by hate crimes, underscoring the pressing need for collective action against antisemitism. As a nation, we must stand united against any form of hatred and discrimination, holding steadfast to our shared values and commitment to human dignity.
However, the harm was already inflicted, an error acknowledged by Gay on Thursday as the repercussions persisted. The initiation of an official congressional investigation into antisemitism at Harvard will fall to The House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Shortly after that, Rabbi David Wolpe resigned from an advisory group aimed at combating antisemitism on campus, a group that Gay had established just weeks prior. He cited her congressional testimony as the reason for his resignation.