In “Republican Lawmakers Spar With University Presidents at Campus Antisemitism Hearing” (12/5/23), the Wall Street Journal wrote about the “tense exchange” by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R.,N.Y.) along with her fellow Republican lawmakers, with the President’s of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology “during a congressional hearing about efforts to curb rising antisemitism on their campuses.”
The most riveting testimony occurred, conspicuously absent from the WSJ article, when Stefanik asked each of the Presidents “does calling for the genocide of Jews violate their schools code of conduct or rules regarding bullying and harassment – yes or no?” The Presidents’ of each of the universities shockingly were unable to proclaim “yes”! Stefanik was understandably startled by their equivocation. She repeated the question several times to make sure the President’s understood the question and each time, they did not respond in the affirmative. One can’t help but wonder if the question was rephrased with another ethnic group how that would impact or alter how respondents answered the identical question.
The overwhelming tenor of the hedged responses from the Presidents’ was “it depends on the context.” It would have been so instructive to listeners of the hearing, and readers of the WSJ, if Stefanik was able to follow up with, “what context makes calling for the genocide of Jews ok?”