summoned the presidents of Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania to a hearing this week to address the alarming rise of overt antisemitism on their campuses following the Hamas attacks on Israel two months ago. Their responses made it all too clear why one of the oldest and most disgraceful forms of bigotry flourishes today in academic circles.
The refusal of the leaders of our most elite universities to answer questions directly and to acknowledge inconsistencies in their institution’s response to hatred vented toward Jews and other groups was a shocking display of moral cowardice and intellectual dishonesty.
to ask the presidents of Harvard, MIT, and Penn whether calling for the genocide of Jews constituted bullying, harassment, and intimidation in violation of their codes of conduct. All three declined to give a yes or no answer, saying that it depended on the context. They suggested that if crowds of students chanting genocidal slogans crossed into “conduct” it could be punished.
Good to know. It appears that actually murdering Jews, since it is conduct, is subject to university discipline, but only calling for their murder — even as Jewish students walk to their dorms or sit in class — is just part of the robust dialogue needed to shape our best and brightest.
The sudden adoption of an absolutist free-speech position by these universities is especially surprising given that none of them upheld that principle when non-Jews were the targets. Harvard’s record of failing to protect free speech is so abysmal that it was awarded the lowest possible rating by an academic freedom advocacy organization.
As Rep. Stefanik noted, Harvard removed the Dean of Winthrop House, who is also a professor in the law school, after he agreed to serve as an attorney for
. Harvard also revoked admission for several students for statements they had made on social media.
Penn’s record of protecting free speech is hardly better, earning it the second worst free-speech ranking from the same group that placed Harvard dead last. The university is in the midst of trying to fire a professor, Amy Wax, who has been an outspoken critic of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts on campus. Had she called for genocide (but only against Jews), she might be safe from university action.
MIT scores better on the free-speech rating, but still has its issues. Climate scientist Dorian Abbot, for example, was famously disinvited from speaking at MIT – not for his views on global warming, but because he has vocally opposed diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
MIT has also refused to enforce its own rules and
because many of them are foreign students and being disciplined may jeopardize their foreign visas and result in deportation. MIT could not be more clear about who matters more – not Jewish students facing abuse, but the foreign students abusing them.
The hypocrisy of suddenly discovering a deep commitment to free speech when Jews are the ones being attacked is bad enough, but an anything-goes approach to speech on campus is also educationally inappropriate. Yes, universities should foster the expression of differing perspectives, but they should do so in service of the search for truth, which should be the central mission of higher education.
The rules governing free speech are different on campus than they are on the street corner. People can shout whatever genocidal nonsense they want in public, but in educational settings that speech can be restricted to ensure that it does not interfere with learning opportunities. In fact, all universities receiving federal subsidies must ensure that students do not face significant harassment based on their race, sex, or ethnicity – including Jews. The
has just launched investigations of Harvard and Penn for violating Jewish students’ civil rights, which gives you an idea of how bad things have gotten.
The presidents of Harvard and Penn must have realized how disastrous their inability to condemn calls for genocide as a violation of their university’s code of conduct was, because each issued carefully crafted statements after the fact in a weak effort to save their reputations and perhaps their jobs. There are reports of an emergency meeting of the Penn Board of Trustees, suggesting that Penn’s president may lose her position over this debacle.
Nothing will get better without external pressure. As many representatives suggested at the hearing, Congress should reconsider the incredibly generous subsidies taxpayers provide to these
If that’s the kind of education Harvard, MIT, and Penn wish to offer, let them do it on their own dime, which is especially true given that these three universities have nearly $100 billion in endowment funds between them.
In addition, donors need to close their wallets and start demanding accountability for the irresponsible leadership exhibited by the presidents of Harvard, MIT, and Penn. These places aren’t the same as the one in the fond memories of their alums. Larger donors, like
and Marc Rowan at Penn, are organizing donor strikes until changes are made.
But the most powerful form of accountability would be the removal of the presidents of these universities. Senior administrators in higher education are characterized more by ruthless ambition than they are by deep principle or scholarly accomplishment. If they see others losing their jobs for failing to stand up to antisemitism, they’ll all get in line.
As pundits continue to analyze the impact of the 2023 general election, the voters in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania and
sent an important message to a billionaire and others trying to influence races for district attorneys: the office is not for sale.
In Allegheny County, Stephen Zappala, the incumbent District Attorney and lifelong Democrat, was challenged in the primary by a candidate backed, in large part, by an organization funded by
. This special interest money funneled by Soros to the challenger, a long-time public defender without prosecutorial experience, amounted to over $700,000 in the primary. With that money, the Soros-backed candidate was able to beat incumbent DA Zappala in the Democratic primary. Zappala did not give up but instead sought and received the Republican nomination in a largely Democratic jurisdiction.
After the primary, Soros flooded the challenger with even more special interest money. In the end, the Soros-backed organization spent almost $2 million in an attempt to elect a social justice prosecutor. This amount was a huge percentage of the funds spent by the challenger.
In Loudoun County, Soros-backed
lost to Republican Bob Anderson. She had risen to the top prosecutor position in 2019 after receiving nearly a million dollars from Soros. In the current race, with the help of Soros, she had raised over a million dollars compared to Anderson’s $70,000. Fortunately, the voters chose public safety over special interest spending, re-electing Zappala and sending Biberaj home.
The attempts to buy these elections and insert dangerous social justice prosecutors in
and Loudoun County are not isolated incidents. In the last few years, Soros has spent millions of dollars around the country to elect so-called progressive prosecutors, and the results are not good for the American people.
The Soros record is one of increased crime and reduced public safety in communities where his candidates are elected, and in some instances even incompetence and corruption. These so-called progressives emerge in cities where Democrats have a monopoly on power and, with Soros money, they make it through the primary.
Many of these candidates have little or no experience as prosecutors and seek to use the office to push a radical social agenda. Just consider these examples of Soros-backed prosecutors.
was recalled by voters after crime increased to intolerable levels, with businesses leaving the city because if it.
* In Baltimore, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s tenure saw significant increases in violent crime. Mosby herself was indicted and later convicted of perjury in federal court.
* In St. Louis, Circuit Attorney
was the subject of a proceeding to remove her from office filed by the Missouri Attorney General. She was accused of failing to do her duty and enrolling in a nursing program while in office. All this at a time when St. Louis’ crime rate increased significantly, including for murder. Gardner’s office was described by a St. Louis judge earlier this year as a “rudderless ship of chaos.” Gardner thankfully resigned.
* In Chicago, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx saw violent crime increase dramatically, making Chicago one of the most violent cities in the country.
* In Boston,
directed that her office not prosecute whole categories of crimes, including those used to convict drug dealers. Rollins was later appointed U.S. Attorney and was confirmed in the Senate only after the vice president voted to break a tie vote. During her tenure as U.S. Attorney, the Justice Department Inspector General found that Rollins inappropriately tried to interfere in the election of her successor as DA, misusing her office to help the so-called “progressive” candidate. She was also found to have violated the Hatch Act which prohibits government officials from engaging in political activity. Rollins was forced to resign earlier this year.
The list goes on. Some estimate that as many as 1 in 5 Americans live in jurisdictions controlled by Soros-backed prosecutors. Many of those communities have experienced an increase in crime while the prosecutors push their radical social justice agenda.
Elections for district attorney have consequences, which include, not only increasing crime, but also lower economic development. Businesses flee high-crime areas, leaving the local communities without ready access to important services like food, when grocery stores move out, and medicine when pharmacies close. This negatively impacts the daily lives of Americans, particularly when prosecutors substitute a social justice agenda advocated by a billionaire and others, for their duty to enforce the law.
Ironically, Soros often targets incumbent Democrat DAs who are doing their job to faithfully enforce the criminal law and protect their communities.
We can’t let big money and special interests influence these important elections.
The DA’s office is not for sale.
Hanukkah is upon us, and it’s usually a time for
And yet all I can seem to do right now is think of Abigail, a 4-year-old girl, finally released from Hamas after 50 days of captivity, yet who returned home an orphan. Hamas slaughtered both her mother and father in their barbaric attack on October 7.
I think of Liran, a young man whose twin brothers are also still held captive. Many hostages have been freed, yet Liran and his family anxiously await a reunion with his brothers.
The words of Liroa echo in my mind, as she pleads for the release of her daughter Noa so that perhaps she can see her just once more at home in Israel. You see, Liroa has
, and is unsure how many days she has left.
This list of tragedies goes on and on. But Israel exists today as a result of miracles amidst tragedy.
As a Jew, I can tell you we’re anxious for another miracle.
During this year’s festival of Hanukkah, the people of Israel find themselves in yet another familiar situation, facing the ongoing threat of extinction. This time, from Hamas. While Hanukkah is a time to celebrate the miraculous victory of the Maccabees over oppressive forces, today in Israel we yearn for another victory to ensure our safety and security in the face of a relentless adversary.
The story of this holiday reminds us of the resilience of the Jewish people in the face of adversity. It is a tale of hope and determination, where a small group of Maccabees stood up against the mighty Seleucid Empire, ultimately reclaiming the
. The miracle oil that burned for eight days is a symbol of faith and the ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.
As Jews, we certainly believe in miracles, and that God always makes a way in the wilderness. Yet while we believe in miracles, we don’t rely on them. We realize we have a duty to help our fellow man, and that God has equipped us for action. We pray as if it all depends on God, but we work as if it all depends on us.
embodies this same spirit of resilience and determination. The people of Israel continue to demonstrate their unwavering commitment to their homeland, just as we did centuries ago. They endure the constant threat of rocket attacks from Gaza, which disrupt daily life, inflict fear, and have tragic consequences.
As we long for peace with every passing year, I think of the innocent civilians who always endure the violence and pay the price for our sovereignty. I think of the small business owners and shopkeepers who line the streets of Jerusalem or the shores of Galilee and depend on the tourism of those making a pilgrimage here to sustain their livelihood. They yearn for more peaceful times. They want to provide for their families and gather around the dinner table in peace. It’s not too much to ask.
Israel’s perpetual quest for peace should not be overlooked. Don’t grow numb to the news you read out of the
on a daily basis. Conflict and turmoil must not be an acceptable norm. Israelis are desperate for a resolution to the conflict, one that guarantees their security while allowing Palestinians to live in dignity and freedom.
Make no mistake, the parallels between Hanukkah and the ongoing struggle for a just and lasting peace in the
are evident – both require determination, faith, and hope for a brighter future. In the face of the ongoing threat from Hamas, Israel’s present situation is a modern-day Hanukkah miracle in the making.
As we celebrate this holiday, remember those of us in Israel longing for a lasting peace in the Middle East. Remember the Jewish people threatened in your own neighborhood or on your own campus too. Commit to being a part of the solution today, instead of adding to the tension and vitriol.
When others attack us, you can defend us. When others scream at us, you can pray for us.
, you can
I’m urging my friends in America – of any faith or none – to remember us at this time of year.
. Remember our suffering. Remember our desire for peace.
Perhaps in doing so you’ll become a small part of the miracle we await. Peace in Israel may take a miracle, but there is plenty we can all do in the meantime.