Harvard president apologizes for her disastrous testimony at antisemitism hearing: ‘Words matter’

Dec 9, 2023 | Read Now, Trending

The president of Harvard University apologized in an interview with the school’s student newspaper after facing widespread condemnation for her disastrous congressional testimony this week, in which she and other university presidents failed to explicitly say calls for genocide of Jewish people constituted bullying and harassment on campus.

“I am sorry,” Harvard University president Claudine Gay said to The Harvard Crimson on Thursday. “Words matter.”

The apology came just days after Gay, the president of the University of Pennsylvania and the president of MIT testified at a House committee hearing focused on antisemitism on campus, to widespread criticism that they have not done enough to ensure the safety of Jewish students and others at their respective schools.

Harvard, UPenn and MIT have all come under fire – along with other US academic institutions – over perceived inaction against antisemitism on their campuses, especially in the wake of the October 7 Hamas terror attack on Israel and the subsequent war.

[The CNN Report continues]

Gay told the Harvard student paper that she regretted what she said.

“When words amplify distress and pain, I don’t know how you could feel anything but regret,” she said to The Crimson.

“I got caught up in what had become at that point, an extended, combative exchange about policies and procedures,” Gay told the newspaper. “What I should have had the presence of mind to do in that moment was return to my guiding truth, which is that calls for violence against our Jewish community — threats to our Jewish students — have no place at Harvard, and will never go unchallenged.”

[The CNN Report continues]

Flood of criticism

Gay has faced plenty of calls to resign, most notably from Hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman, a Harvard graduate who has been a vocal critic of how universities have addressed antisemitism on campus

“Throughout the hearing, the three behaved like hostile witnesses,” Ackman wrote in a post on X earlier this week, “exhibiting a profound disdain for the Congress with their smiles and smirks, and their outright refusal to answer basic questions with a yes or no answer.”

[The CNN Report continues]

Underscoring the anger at the three university presidents’ testimony, on Friday a bipartisan group of more than 70 US lawmakers sent a letter to board members of all three universities, demanding the dismissal of Gay and the presidents of UPenn and MIT.

“Given this moment of crisis, we demand that your boards immediately remove each of these presidents from their positions and that you provide an actionable plan to ensure that Jewish and Israeli students, teachers, and faculty are safe on your campuses,” the lawmakers wrote.

[The CNN Report continues]

“I was not focused on – but I should have been – the irrefutable fact that a call for genocide of Jewish people is a call for some of the most terrible violence human beings can perpetrate. It’s evil. Plain, and simple,” Magill said in a video posted on X. “I want to be clear: A call for genocide of Jewish people … would be harassment or intimidation.”

Unlike Gay, however, Magill has not apologized for her testimony.

View this CNN Report from December 9th