The night before their congressional hearing, three presidents from prestigious American universities (Harvard, MIT and Penn) met in the penthouse suite in Washington’s Dupont Plaza Hotel. They had set up this meeting to brain-storm, to coordinate their talking points and to plan their strategy on how to avoid sounding like antisemities.
Over merlots and martinis, they tried to drink away their fears. And as they nibbled on hors d’oeuvres they wondered, “Is my career in jeopardy?”
Harvard: Ladies, thank you for agreeing to meet tonight. My staff has put together this list of historical subjects about our schools that we should try to avoid talking about. You know, the less said, the better. My staff has gone the extra mile by also suggesting answers, if we’re asked questions on these subjects.
Harvard read aloud:
1. Our school’s history of discriminating against Jewish students and faculty in the 1920s through the 1950s. That’s when our universities had a 10% quota on Jews.
Possible answer: That was a long time ago. We don’t have quotas today. Our university has plenty of Jewish professors and students.
2. The amount of money Arab countries are channeling into our Middle Eastern Studies programs.
Possible answer: Without divulging numbers, say, “When it comes to donations or grants, our schools don’t discriminate. All money is green to us. Further, we don’t let donations interfere with any of our decision-making processes.
3. Our school’s embracing and pushing eugenics in the 30’s and the fact that even Adolf Hitler commended and appreciated our work;
Possible answer: Only a limited number of our professors pushed the elimination of the mentally changed or disabled from having children by sterilizing them.
4. Our schools ran joint study programs with Nazi universities;
Possible answer: At the time, we didn’t know Hitler was going to kill six million Jews.
MIT: Thanks for those pointers. But what about if members of the congressional delegation ask us, “If the calling for the genocide of Jews violates our codes of conduct?”
Harvard: Play lawyer on them, just add a qualifier, like, “That depends on the context.” Talk about freedom of speech. Many of the folks on the congressional delegation didn’t attend an Ivy. Therefore, they’re unable to think on their feet.
Penn: Very funny but how do we explain our lack of concern for the safety of Jewish students on campus?
MIT: We can plead ignorance. We can advise them that we’ll be more than willing to look into the matter and take affirmative steps.
Harvard: I like these proposed answers but what are you ladies wearing to the hearings?
MIT: I’m thinking about an outfit in my school colors and a yellow silk scarf embossed with my school’s insignia.
Penn: I’m thinking blue skirt with a white blouse. It’s a twofer. They’re Hanukkah colors and the colors of the Israeli flag. I’ll accent my outfit with one of those cute little joint Israeli/ American flag pins. I’ve used that outfit when I’m trying to land rich Jewish donors. It works.
Harvard: I’m thinking blood red, representing the blood of the Palestinians. None of the committee will get the symbolic nature of my outfit. I’ll accessorize it with a red, white and blue American flag broach. Those clowns in Congress love wearing American flag jewelry. You know what they say, “When in Rome…”
MIT: Ladies, thanks for coming to this meeting. Try to get a good night’s sleep. See you in the morning. Remember ladies, no show of emotions. We don’t want the Jews to think, we really care about them. And I don’t think I have to say this, but I’m going to say it anyway. Above all, let’s not “F” this up. Let’s not embarrass ourselves or our universities with any stupid answers. Remember we’re the best. We’re Ivys.