A bipartisan group of more than 70 lawmakers is pressing for the removal of the presidents at Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as campuses across the U.S. have seen a perceived rise in antisemitism since the onset of the war between Israel and militant group Hamas.
“Jewish students should have found comfort on their campuses,” reads a letter to the school boards, signed by 74 lawmakers. “Instead, many Jewish and Israeli students have faced an increasingly hostile educational environment, in the form of targeted harassment, protesters calling for the elimination of the Jewish state, and even acts of violence.”
“According to a recent survey by ADL and Hillel International, 73% of Jewish college students surveyed have experienced or witnessed some form of antisemitism on campus since the beginning of the school year,” continued the letter, led by New York Rep. Elise Stefanik (R) and Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.). “This is unacceptable. Antisemitism has been allowed to fester on campuses for years, and in the wake of the October 7 attack, the world is witnessing the consequences.”
The demand comes after a fiery hearing earlier this week where University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill suggested context matters on whether comments calling for the genocide of Jewish people would be considered harassment. Magill, and her counterparts at Harvard and MIT, said the remarks would one investigated.
The viral clip has sparked bipartisan criticism, including from Capitol Hill and the White House, and their attempts to clean up the situation have been largely unsuccessful.
Lawmakers claim in their letter that the backlash is merely a consequence of failed leadership at the universities — and illuminated “problematic double standards.”
“The university presidents’ responses to questions aimed at addressing the growing trend of antisemitism on college and university campuses were abhorrent,” they wrote. “When pushed on whether calling for the genocide of Jews violates university policies on bullying or harassment, Presidents Gay (Harvard), Kornbluth (MIT), and Magill (Penn) were evasive and dismissive, failing to simply condemn such action. This should have been an easy and resounding ‘yes.’”
The bipartisan coalition said the only solution was to immediately remove the presidents and provide a plan “to ensure that Jewish and Israeli students, teachers, and faculty are safe on your campuses.”
“Anything less than these steps will be seen as your endorsement of what Presidents Gay, Magill, and Kornbluth said to Congress and an act of complicity in their antisemitic posture,” they wrote.
“The world is watching — you can stand with your Jewish students and faculty, or you can choose the side of dangerous antisemitism,” the lawmakers concluded.
Their push comes as donors, students and faculty have revolted against the presidents in the wake of their response. Six Pennsylvania state representatives also called for Magill to be ousted.
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