‘Anti-Semitism’ Purge Moves on to Harvard

Critics of the university president’s decision to resign warn that it will embolden those who are running cover for Israel’s genocide in Gaza and will reverberate throughout U.S. higher education.

Harvard’s Claudine Gay during a congressional hearing on Dec. 5, 2023. (C-Span)

By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams

Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik declared victory Tuesday after Harvard University President Claudine Gay announced her resignation following an aggressive far-right campaign for her ouster.

“TWO DOWN,” Stefanik (N.Y.) wrote on social media, referring to the resignations of Gay and former University of Pennsylvania president Liz Magill, who stepped down last month. 

“Harvard knows that this long-overdue forced resignation of the antisemitic plagiarist president is just the beginning of what will be the greatest scandal of any college or university in history,” Stefanik added.

Pressure on Gay to resign began after a December congressional hearing during which Stefanik questioned Gay, Magill, and other university presidents on whether “calling for the genocide of Jews” violates their institutions’ rules prohibiting bullying and harassment.

Gay responded that it “depends on the context” and said, “Antisemitic rhetoric, when it crosses into conduct, it amounts to bullying, harassment, intimidation.”

“That is actionable conduct,” Gay continued, “and we do take action.”

Gay’s testimony prompted a firestorm of outrage from Republicans, far-right activists and a billionaire hedge fund manager. Critics, including the former executive director of Harvard Hillel, have argued that right-wing forces are weaponizing antisemitism in a cynical attempt to further their assault on higher education and provide cover for Israel’s war crimes in Gaza.

[See: Academic Freedom Under Fire as Gaza Burns and Zionist Suppression in Congress]

The 13-member Harvard Corporation stood by Gay in the wake of the December congressional hearing, but calls for her resignation continued to grow after the far-right activist Christopher Rufo and conservative news outlets reported and amplified allegations of plagiarism.

“On December 12, in a statement backing Gay as president, the Corporation acknowledged findings of improper citation,” The Harvard Crimson, the university’s student newspaper, reported last week. “The statement also indicated Gay would make corrections to two articles, which she submitted on December 14. One week later, Harvard announced Gay would also submit corrections to her dissertation.”

In her resignation letter, Gay wrote that “it has been distressing to have doubt cast on my commitments to confronting hate and to upholding scholarly rigor— two bedrock values that are fundamental to who I am — and frightening to be subjected to personal attacks and threats fueled by racial animus.”

[Related: US Congress: ‘We Stand With Genocide’]

Gay, whose tenure lasted just six months, wrote that she decided to step down “after consultation with members” of the Harvard Corporation. 

David Austin Walsh, a historian and postdoctoral associate at the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism, wrote in response to the Harvard president’s resignation that while he has “no particular love for Claudine Gay… this is a major victory for reactionary donors and the far-right’s campaign to dismantle American higher education.”

Others echoed that assessment, warning that Gay’s decision to resign would embolden the right and have reverberating impacts on U.S. higher education.

“Claudine Gay didn’t do herself any favors,” wrote Philadelphia Inquirercolumnist Will Bunch, “but I’ll say what I said when Penn’s Magill resigned: This will be used by the very worst people to make higher education worse, not better. It will be used to cut funding, end diversity, stifle academic freedom.” 

Jake Johnson is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article is from Common Dreams.

Views expressed in this article and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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20 comments for “‘Anti-Semitism’ Purge Moves on to Harvard

  1. James White
    January 4, 2024 at 16:49

    A Harvard affiliation used to count for excellence in scholarship or related achievements. It seems that once Harvard adopted affirmative action, a racist practice that was recently struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, the merit based standards previously used to select outstanding individuals were replaced with a quota system. That system was gamed and exploited by people like Claudine Gay and Ketanji Brown Jackson. But it also extends to weak intellects and some downright lunatics larding the Biden Regime such as Anthony Blinken, Ron Klain, Pete Buttigieg, Merrick Garland, Jennifer Granholm, Rachel Levine, Samantha Power, Janet Yellen and Susan Rice. These people, using Joe Biden as a puppet have done lasting damage to the U.S. while their foreign policy failures are epic. Give Harvard an ‘F’ in leadership.

  2. Paula
    January 4, 2024 at 13:34

    Is there funding or thought for alternative universities? We need not settle for this BS. A higher education can be had if you are an auto didactic learner. In fact, I’ve learned more of the truth since my “higher” education than I have in my 16 years of public and university education. In fact, the educational system ranks very poorly, used more as a tool to miseducate.

  3. susan
    January 4, 2024 at 10:27

    So, it’s okay for Israel and the US to commit mass murder but it isn’t okay to speak out against it? So much for “higher education” in this country. The goal really is to make the masses mindless cretins and those like Elise Stefanik are leading the charge.

  4. rosross
    January 3, 2024 at 21:09

    Time for Jews to reject the Zionist State of Israel for the sake of their religion and their own integrity. Zionist Israel defames and debases Judaism and its followers and always has done. Zionism is an atheist fascist political movement which has exploited Jews and Judaism since it was invented in the 1890’s.

  5. Janet
    January 3, 2024 at 16:21

    Seems like this is a case of the rightwing using the tactics of the leftwing. Gay has been canceling and firing people for protesting her extreme DEI agenda, so she’s no champion of “free speech.” Now she’s the one being canceled. Unfortunately, she’s on the right side of history this time for a change, but that doesn’t matter in politics. Once the Democrats put cancel culture into play, all sides will use it to their advantage. That’s politics.

    • Caliman
      January 4, 2024 at 13:14

      Exactly … and the same is true as re the utterly unhinged reaction against Trump. As cretinous as he was and is, the illiberal reaction to him as re Russiagate, Jan6gate, and now electiongate are indicative of a ruling class driven mad with privilege … sort of like the modern Sparta that is Israel.

    • January 4, 2024 at 13:26

      Well said: “Once the Democrats put cancel culture into play, all sides will use it to their advantage.”
      I know nothing about the allegation of Gay’s “extreme DEI agenda”; but suppose I wouldn’t be surprised by examples. A focus on social identity, which I consider a part of the longer-term culture wars, has been the Democrats’ answer to the Republican right and one of those few areas where there is substantial degrees of difference between the two sides of the duopoly. I may understandably be thought cynical, but I suspect that focus is itself a cynical application of a tool that at once rallies their partisans AND obscures the more fundamentally important problems that both sides wish to hide. IMO, those include the perpetual state of war, the near-complete evisceration of any real facets of democracy, authoritarianism as expressed in censorship and propaganda, the imperial quest to maintain the hegemony of the dollar, and ecological collapse.

  6. January 3, 2024 at 14:21

    Some pwogwessives wring their hands for Ms. Gay, who comes from the brutal ruling class of Haiti, who supports Zionist genocide (just not vigorously enough for the Zionists themselves). Yet these pwogwessives do nothing for the baristas, teachers, and hundreds of other workers across the country who have been suspended and fired for protesting genocide in Gaza. See “Zionist Repression, Harvard’s Claudine Gay, and Capitalist Democracy” for some facts.

    • Piotr Berman
      January 5, 2024 at 11:50

      Expecting truly progressive views, ipso facto anti-establishment, from a president elected by an economically conservative board of directors is not realistic. However, free-expression and academic freedom are unifying values that should not be abandoned for short-term expediency, something that ruling boards of universities should remember, and even the politicians.

      USA seems to be sliding into multifaceted intolerance, major parties striving to criminalize each other and both want to clobber the opponents of “bi-partisan consensus” that includes “Stand with Israel (in times of massacres)”.

    • Piotr Berman
      January 5, 2024 at 12:46

      Gloating about the fate of “pwogwesive Gay” is unhelpful. The possible wider repression may hit actual progressives most.

  7. mgr
    January 3, 2024 at 11:41

    So the choice, in the minds of those supporting Israel’s genocide, is either to support genocide and ethnic cleansing so Israel can steal Palestinian land or be antisemitic. Well, at least that’s an easy choice. At some point though, the hypocritical usage of antisemitism to shut down American democracy and freedom of thought and speech is going to generate real rage. Seeing where it has ended up, it could be that the Netanyahu government will bring the “Israel experiment” to a close. Honestly, the Jewish people of the world will be better off without it.

  8. Vera Gottlieb
    January 3, 2024 at 10:10

    Shun this tribe!!!

  9. michael888
    January 3, 2024 at 10:09

    It doesn’t matter that most Americans, particularly the Young, are disgusted with our “ally’s” barbaric war crimes and atrocities far exceeding anything done on October 7th. Genocide Joe is an avowed Zionist and with crocodile tears continues to fund the slaughter (as he did the killing of the Yemeni, and the ethnic Russian Ukrainians). AIPAC and other Zionist organizations control Congress (despite Jews making up only ~2% of Americans, there are lots of political donations from Sam Bankman Fried and the Chosen Ones!)

    Genocide Joe, an avowed Zionist, continues to fund ’emergency’ materiel and money to RICH Israel, countenancing the Slaughter, still pushing the horror of the (non-existent) 40 decapitated Israeli babies. More war crimes and atrocities enabled by Genocide Joe than in any such short period of time in recent memory. “American Democracy” indeed.

  10. Kendall Hallett
    January 3, 2024 at 06:08

    It’s surely a personal and professional tragedy for Gay, and for academia. I think everybody should respect her decision. There but for the grace of the godless pious ‘religious’ intolerant go any of us. As a staunch agnostic atheist, I believe godlessness is a good quality, except in those who profess to believe in one they use as a cudgel. I have – empathy – that teaches me to be nice to others, even those I disagree with. I believe empathy is more powerful than religion, and these ‘religious’ people prove that well. Fear of any religious identity is clearly not irrational phobia, is it?!

  11. jos
    January 3, 2024 at 04:32

    Those people don’t care about “calls for genocide” in general. They care about their political preferences. It’s entirely political. Even education is a warfare sector.

  12. Not just Palestine
    January 3, 2024 at 01:20

    Confirmation that USA too is occupied territory

  13. January 3, 2024 at 00:48

    As far as I am concerned, Claudine Gay rightly resigned, but was seemingly badgered into it for several of the wrong reasons by rabid neo-McCarthyite “culture warriors” of “Israel First” inclinations like Rep. Elise Stefanik and Rep. Virginia Foxx (the pair of which are simply pro-Zionist mirror images of First Amendment-despising and thoroughly corrupted congress critters like Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schulz and Rep. Stacey Plaskett).

    Gay should have resigned for being a hypocrite that played her part in making Harvard the only university with an “abysmal” ranking in the 2024 campus speech report by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), as a co-conspirator with Penny Pritzker and all of their ignominious ilk in the governing board of Harvard Corporation (for example, see Philip Weiss, “Penny Pritzker’s Support for Israel Played Crucial Role in Obama’s Rise,” Mondoweiss, May 3, 2013, and the section “Kings of the Castle” in chapter one of Whitney Webb’s “One Nation Under Blackmail, Vol. 1,” published in 2022, available at tinyurl.com/PritzkerKingsCastle).

  14. Andrew Nichols
    January 3, 2024 at 00:22

    Just accelerates US decline. Soon even vassal states will abandon it. Whats not to like?

  15. Drew Hunkins
    January 2, 2024 at 21:14

    Stefanik is an ugly in every way sociopathic enabler of ethnic cleansing who gets off on suppressing free expression in favor of a creepy sadistic land stealing artificial state.

    Stefanik: a true disgrace to humanity.

  16. Lois Gagnon
    January 2, 2024 at 21:13

    Shutting down dissent is all these imperialist cretins have left. Most people hate them for everything they represent which is power for its own sake. Only the worst among us survive being at the top of this corrupt system. That’s what we’re seeing play out.

Comments are closed.