Harvard president apologizes after backlash over remarks at antisemitism hearing

Harvard president apologizes after backlash over remarks at antisemitism hearing

Harvard President Claudine Gay is apologizing for her responses to questions about campus antisemitism during a House hearing Tuesday, which led some to call for her resignation

Gay got into a heated back and forth with Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) on Tuesday after the lawmaker asked, “At Harvard, does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard’s rules of bullying and harassment?”

Gay said “depending on the context,” it could violate the policies and that “antisemitic speech when it crosses into conduct that amounts to bullying, harassment, intimidation — that is actionable conduct and we do take action.”

In an interview with student newspaper The Harvard Crimson on Thursday, she apologized for that interaction.

“I am sorry,” Gay told the outlet. “Words matter.”

“When words amplify distress and pain, I don’t know how you could feel anything but regret,” she added.

The backlash has been swift and fierce against Harvard, as well as the other two colleges represented, with Stefanik and Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-Calif.), both Harvard alums, saying Gay should resign.

Rabbi David Wolpe announced Thursday he was resigning from Harvard’s advisory group that aimed to combat antisemitism, citing the environment at the university and Gay’s testimony.

The White House declared it was “unbelievable that this needs to be said: Calls for genocide are monstrous and antithetical to everything we represent as a country.”

“I got caught up in what had become at that point, an extended, combative exchange about policies and procedures,” Gay told the student newspaper. “What I should have had the presence of mind to do in that moment was return to my guiding truth, which is that calls for violence against our Jewish community — threats to our Jewish students — have no place at Harvard, and will never go unchallenged.”

“Substantively, I failed to convey what is my truth,” she said.

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