The presidents of Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) shocked and angered social media users with testimony given during a congressional hearing on antisemitism.
The school leaders arrived at Capitol Hill on Tuesday to answer questions about rising antisemitism on their campuses before the House Education and Workforce Committee.
During the hearing, MIT President Sally Kornbluth was asked whether calling for the genocide of Jews violates the private land-grant research university's codes of conduct regarding bullying and harassment.
When asked again, Kornbluth said she had not heard calls for the genocide of Jews on campus.
"But you've heard chants for intifada," Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N. Y., said, a reference to the Arabic word "uprising" or "shaking off." The term has been used to describe periods of Palestinian resistance against Israel, often in the form of terrorism.
"We have heard chants which can be antisemitic depending on the context when calling for the elimination of the Jewish people," Kornbluth said.
The MIT leader noted that such incidents would be investigated as harassment if found to be "pervasive and severe."
UPenn President Elizabeth Magill was then asked the same question. She told Congress that if the speech turned into conduct, it would be considered harassment.
She added that it was a "context-dependent" situation that would constitute bullying and harassment if it was "directed," "pervasive," and "severe."
Magill was asked repeatedly if she would answer "yes" that calling for the genocide of Jews constituted harassment.
"It can be harassment," she eventually said.
The question was then posed to Harvard President Claudine Gay, who also said it could depend on the "context" and if it targets specific individuals.... (Read more)
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