US Rep Stefanik and Moskowitz demand firing of MIT, UPenn University presidents - Hindustan Times
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US Rep Elise Stefanik and Jared Moskowitz call for dismissal of Harvard, MIT, UPenn presidents in antisemitism Row

Dec 09, 2023 10:33 AM IST

A bipartisan letter highlights concerns, citing incidents of hostility towards Jewish and Israeli students and urges action to ensure their safety.

Representatives Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) have called for the immediate dismissal of the presidents of Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania due to their handling of antisemitism on their campuses.

Elise Stefanik and Jared Moskowitz lead charge for the ousting of Ivy League Presidents for antisemitism neglect(AP/AFP)
Elise Stefanik and Jared Moskowitz lead charge for the ousting of Ivy League Presidents for antisemitism neglect(AP/AFP)

The demand was made through a letter, co-signed by 72 other lawmakers, to the board members of these prestigious institutions. The letter accuses the university leaders of enabling the dehumanization of Jewish individuals and insists on the creation of an action plan to protect Jewish and Israeli students and faculty.

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The letter highlights the discomfort and hostility faced by Jewish and Israeli students, including targeted harassment, protests advocating for the elimination of the Jewish state, and even acts of violence.

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The lawmakers state, “Jewish students should have found comfort on their campuses. Instead, many Jewish and Israeli students have faced an increasingly hostile educational environment.” They argue that this is a direct result of the failure of university leadership.

Sparks investigation

Earlier this week, Claudine Gay, Liz McGill, and Sally Kornbluth, the presidents of Harvard, UPenn, and MIT respectively, were scrutinized by House lawmakers for their response to on-campus protests. These protests included calls for violent armed resistance against the state of Israel and Israeli civilians, as well as the genocide of Jews.

During their testimony, Gay and McGill avoided direct answers to Stefanik’s questions about whether the violent anti-Jewish demonstrations violated the Ivy League schools’ codes of conduct. Gay expressed her personal abhorrence towards antisemitic speech but emphasized Harvard’s commitment to free expression.

McGill stated that calls for the genocide of the Jewish people would only be considered bullying or harassment if they were “directed and severe, pervasive,” adding that it is a “context-dependent decision.”

Kornbluth responded by saying that such language violated conduct codes only if it was “targeting individuals, not making public statements.” She mentioned that chants calling for the elimination of the Jewish people could be antisemitic depending on the context.

US Reps think the university presidents are dismissive

Stefanik and Moskowitz expressed dissatisfaction with the university presidents’ responses, describing them as “abhorrent.” They criticized the presidents for being evasive and dismissive when asked to condemn actions calling for the genocide of Jews. The letter demands the immediate removal of the presidents and the implementation of a plan to ensure the safety of Jewish and Israeli individuals on campus.

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The letter concludes with a stern warning: “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. The world is watching – you can stand with your Jewish students and faculty, or you can choose the side of dangerous antisemitism.”

Stefanik has also announced that a formal congressional investigation into the three universities will be launched.

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