Harvard, MIT, UPenn Leaders Under Fire for ‘Genocide Context’ Comments!


Harvard, MIT, UPenn Leaders Under Fire for ‘Genocide Context’ Comments!
© Getty Images News/Kevin Dietsch

The presidents of Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania found themselves at the center of a storm following their testimony at a House hearing on antisemitism on campus and calls for genocide in Israel. Their responses, particularly on whether advocating for the genocide of Jews violates their institutions' codes of conduct, drew sharp rebuke from prominent figures in business and politics.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla expressed his dismay in a post, stating he was “ashamed” to hear the testimony, which he described as “one of the most despicable moments in the history of US academia”. Similarly, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, speaking in Philadelphia, labeled Penn President Liz Magill’s statements as “unacceptable” and “shameful,” urging the UPenn board of trustees to reassess whether Magill’s testimony aligns with the university's values.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also weighed in, stating on CNN that calls for genocide at universities were “unacceptable”.

Alarming Responses and Calls for Resignation

The controversy primarily revolves around the university leaders' reluctance to categorically state that calls for the genocide of Jews would necessarily violate their code of conduct.

Instead, they suggested such decisions would be context-dependent, a stance that has led to widespread criticism. Private equity billionaire Marc Rowan and hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman were among those who voiced their concerns.

Ackman, a Harvard alumnus, called for the resignation of the university presidents, criticizing their demeanor and responses during the hearing. "They must all resign in disgrace," Ackman stated, condemning the moral stance of Presidents Gay, Magill, and Kornbluth.

In response to a question from Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, Penn President Magill's reply that calling for the genocide of Jews is a "context-dependent decision" particularly drew shock and strong criticism. Ackman highlighted this response as indicative of why antisemitism has surged on campuses and globally.

In the wake of this criticism, both Harvard and Penn issued clarifying statements. Harvard's President Gay emphasized that calls for violence or genocide against any group, including Jewish students, are unacceptable and will be met with accountability.

Magill, in a video statement, acknowledged the gravity of calling for the genocide of Jewish people, affirming that it would constitute harassment or intimidation and vowing to review and clarify the university's policies on hate speech. MIT, at the time of reporting, had not responded to the criticism.