Politics

Prominent Rabbi Resigns from Harvard’s Antisemitism Board After School President’s Embarrassing Testimony

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Harvard Dean Claudine Gay

Rabbi David Wolpe announced his resignation from Harvard’s antisemitism board this week after Harvard University President Dr. Claudine Gay’s disastrous and embarrassing testimony on Capital Hill.

Wolpe, the only Rabbi on the board,  described Gay’s appearance as “painfully inadequate testimony.”

Rabbi Wolpe, delivered his message on X, offering a “Hanukkah message” ahead of the Jewish holiday.

His message reads:

Resigning, a Hanukkah Message: As of today I have resigned from the antisemitism advisory committee at Harvard. Without rehashing all of the obvious reasons that have been endlessly adumbrated online, and with great respect for the members of the committee, the short explanation is that both events on campus and the painfully inadequate testimony reinforced the idea that I cannot make the sort of difference I had hoped.  Still, there are several points worth making. I believe Claudine Gay to be both a kind and thoughtful person.  Most of the students here wish only to get an education and a job, not prosecute ideological agendas, and there are many, many honorable, thoughtful and good people at the institution. Harvard is still a repository of extraordinary minds and important research.

However, the system at Harvard along with the ideology that grips far too many of the students and faculty, the ideology that works only along axes of oppression and places Jews as oppressors and therefore intrinsically evil, is itself evil. Ignoring Jewish suffering is evil.  Belittling or denying the Jewish experience, including unspeakable atrocities, is a vast and continuing catastrophe.  Denying Israel the self-determination as a Jewish nation accorded unthinkingly to others is endemic, and evil.

Battling that combination of ideologies is the work of more than a committee or a single university.  It is not going to be changed by hiring or firing a single person, or posting on X, or yelling at people who don’t post as you wish when you wish, as though posting is the summation of one’s moral character.  This is the task of educating a generation, and also a vast unlearning. Part of the problem is a simple herd mentality – people screaming slogans whose meaning and implication they know nothing of, or not wishing to be disliked by taking an unpopular position.  Some of it is the desire to achieve social status by being the sole or greatest victim.  Some of it is simple, old fashioned Jew hatred, that ugly arrow in the quiver of dark hearts for millenia.

In this generation, outside of Israel, we are called to be Maccabees of a different order. We do not fight the actual battle but we search for the cruse of oil left behind.  Remember the oil was to last one night, but lasted eight – which means there were seven nights of miracle.  But of course the first night was the greatest miracle — because the motivation to light the initial candle, to ensure the continuity and vitality of tradition in each generation, that is the supreme miracle.  Dispute but also create. Build the institutions you value, don’t merely attack those you denigrate.  We are at a moment when the toxicity of intellectual slovenliness has been laid bare for all to see. Time to kindle the first candle.  Create that miracle for us and all Israel — Blessing to you and Hag Urim Sameach.

1/3 Resigning, a Hanukkah Message: As of today I have resigned from the antisemitism advisory committee at Harvard. Without rehashing all of the obvious reasons that have been endlessly adumbrated online, and with great respect for the members of the committee, the short…

— David Wolpe (@RabbiWolpe) December 7, 2023

Wolpe’s resignation comes after leaders of MIT, Harvard, and Penn testified in front of the House Education Committee on Tuesday.

Gay was among the university presidents grilled by Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., regarding the rise of antisemitism on college campuses and the vocal calls of  “intifada” during pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

Stefanik asked Gay, “You understand that the use of the term intifada in the context of the Israeli-Arab conflict is indeed a call for violent armed resistance against the State of Israel, including violence against civilians and the genocide of Jews… And there have been multiple marches at Harvard with students chanting quote ‘There is only one solution, intifada revolution’ and quote ‘Globalize the intifada.’ Is that correct?”

Gay responded, “I’ve heard that thoughtless, reckless and hateful language on our campus, yes,” calling it “abhorrent” and “hateful speech.”

When specifically pressed on whether calls for “intifada,” direct support for the genocide of Jewish people, violated Harvard’s code of conduct, Gay weakly replied that it “depends on the context.”

After intense backlash for her remarks,  Gay released a statement saying, “There are some who have confused a right to free expression with the idea that Harvard will condone calls for violence against Jewish students. Let me be clear: Calls for violence or genocide against the Jewish community, or any religious or ethnic group are vile, they have no place at Harvard, and those who threaten our Jewish students will be held to account.”

Prominent donors like billionaire hedge fund manager and academic donor Bill Ackman are calling for the  leaders of MIT, Harvard, and Penn to ‘resign in disgrace.’

The presidents of @Harvard, @MIT, and @Penn were all asked the following question under oath at today’s congressional hearing on antisemitism:

Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate [your university’s] code of conduct or rules regarding bullying or harassment?

The… pic.twitter.com/eVlPCHMcVZ

— Bill Ackman (@BillAckman) December 5, 2023

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