Harvard professors defend president who said calls for Jewish genocide might not be bullying

Claudine Gay has faced calls for her resignation following testimony to a congressional inquiry


Claudine Gay, President of Harvard University, Liz Magill, President of University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Sally Kornbluth, President of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, testify before a congressional a hearing to investigate antisemitism on college campuses (Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Hundreds of academics have defended the embattled Harvard president who said that calling for the death of Jews did not necessarily violate the university’s rules against bullying.

At a congressional hearing last week, Claudine Gay was asked: "at Harvard, does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard’s rules of bullying and harassment, yes or no?”

The university administrator replied: “It can be, depending on the context.”

Following the fiery exchange, University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill, who also declined to answer the question definitevely, was forced to resign.

With pressure on Gay building, 570 academics have now writen a petition in her defence. 

Alison Frank Johnson, a Harvard professor of history and a co-author of the document, told the Daily Mail: "I get the impression that many people don't know how much support she has, as a scholar, colleague, and administrator, within the university - including from people who sometimes disagree with her.”

While the exact wording of the petition has not been released, Frank Johnson said that it asks the Harvard, "not to bend to political pressure, including pressure to remove the president."

Gay’s "has done more damage to the reputation of Harvard University than any individual in our nearly 500-year history,” said Hedge Fund manager Bill Ackman, who has become a figurehead of Jewish resistance to the Ivy League leaders.

Writing on X/Twitter, he said: “Because of her failure to condemn the most vile and barbaric terrorism the world has ever seen, for supporting rather than condemning 34 Harvard-branded student organizations who hold Israel ‘entirely responsible’ for Hamas’ barbaric acts, for failing to enforce Harvard’s own rules on student conduct, and for her other failures of leadership, President Gay catalyzed an explosion of antisemitism and hate on campus that is unprecedented in Harvard’s history.”

In an interview published by campus paper The Havard Crimson, Gay has since apologised for her congressional committe meeting remarks.

She said: “I am sorry… When words amplify distress and pain, I don’t know how you could feel anything but regret.”

According to the New York Times, there have been few calls on campus for Gay to resign. 

Writing online, Ackman added: “Highly disruptive protests are underway inside Widener Library while students are trying to study for final exams and finish their term papers during the last two weeks of the semester.

“As a result of President Gay’s failure to enforce Harvard’s own rules, Jewish students, faculty and others are fearful for their own safety as even the physical abuse of students remains unpunished.”

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