ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 147

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Harvard faculty backs university president criticized for antisemitism remarks

Harvard president Claudine Gay speaks during a hearing of the US House Committee on Education on Capitol Hill, December 5, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Mark Schiefelbein)
Harvard president Claudine Gay speaks during a hearing of the US House Committee on Education on Capitol Hill, December 5, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Mark Schiefelbein)

Hundreds of Harvard faculty members are urging the Ivy League university to keep its president, Claudine Gay, in command, as she faces calls from some lawmakers and donors to step down over comments at a congressional hearing on antisemitism last week.

A petition signed by more than 600 faculty members asks the school’s governing body to resist political pressures “that are at odds with Harvard’s commitment to academic freedom.”

Only months into her leadership, Gay came under intense scrutiny following the hearing in which she and two of her peers struggled to answer questions about campus antisemitism. Their academic responses provoked a backlash from Republican opponents, along with alumni and donors, who say the university leaders are failing to stand up for Jewish students on their campuses.

Liz Magill resigned as president of the University of Pennsylvania on Saturday, in the wake of criticism of her handling of the hearing. Rep. Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican whose questions sparked the episode, saw it as the first domino: “One down. Two to go,” she said on X, formerly Twitter.

Harvard’s highest governing body is scheduled to meet today and has not issued a public statement since the hearing. On Thursday, MIT’s governing body issued a statement declaring “full and unreserved support” for President Sally Kornbluth, whose testimony also drew scathing criticism.

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