The Yad Vashem Holocaust museum says it is alarmed by the US congressional testimonies of the presidents of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The memorial claims the universities had an inadequate response to campus antisemitism that has flared during the Israel-Hamas war.
In a statement, Yad Vashem accuses the presidents of “minimizing” and “contextualizing” antisemitism.
“The positions taken by the three university presidents in their testimonies highlight a basic ignorance of history, including the fact that the Holocaust did not start with ghettos or gas chambers, but with hateful antisemitic rhetoric, decrees and actions by senior academics, among other leaders of society,” the statement says.
In recent weeks, the federal US government has opened investigations into several universities, including Penn and Harvard, regarding antisemitism and Islamophobia on campus.
The university presidents told a House committee yesterday that there is a fine line between protecting free speech and allowing protests, while also combating antisemitism. They pointedly refused to say that calls for the genocide of Jews breach their rules on harassment and bullying, saying, it “depends on the context.”
The academic leaders said they were taking steps to combat antisemitism on campus, including increasing security and providing additional counseling and mental health support.