WORLD NEWS Harvard alumnus Al Gore 'shocked' by 'tone-deafness' of university...

Harvard alumnus Al Gore ‘shocked’ by ‘tone-deafness’ of university president at antisemitism hearing

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Former Vice President Al Gore condemned the leadership of Harvard President Claudine Gay for her “tone-deafness” during last week’s congressional testimony on antisemitism. 

Gore said he was “shocked” by the comments of his alma mater’s leadership, who testified that calling for the genocide of Jews would not constitute harassment, during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. 

“The presidents of Harvard, Penn, and MIT were before Congress this past week, and they were asked whether or not it — explicitly calling for the genocide of Jews on their campus would constitute harassment, and they seemed to struggle with that, although the presidents of Penn and Harvard issued clarifying statements,” CNN anchor Jake Tapper asked Gore. “I was wondering what your reaction to it, as somebody who has been a strong supporter of the Jewish community, a strong supporter of Israel, and also, as I noted, a proud Harvard alum.”

“Well, I was shocked by the tone-deafness of those comments,” Gore said in response. “And I think they got bad legal advice in putting together what they were going to say … they certainly do need to clarify that.”

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“We need to respect one another in our country and when statements of the kind that were — they were asked about come out, we need to stand against them and stand firm as Americans for respect for all of the communities that make up America,” he added. 

Al Gore grimaces as he appears on CNN’s “State of the Union” on December 10, 2023.

Gay and the presidents of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Pennsylvania testified on Capitol Hill Tuesday about the rampant antisemitism on their campuses following Hamas’ October 7 terror attacks on Israel. 

They came under sharp criticism, facing calls to resign under fierce Republican questioning about the rise of antisemitism, with observers saying their campuses had hardly been bastions of First Amendment freedom before their stated commitment to free speech on Tuesday.

During the House hearing titled, “Holding Campus Leaders Accountable and Confronting Antisemitism,” Gay shared a tense exchange with Republican New York Rep. Elise Stefanik when she challenged the Ivy League school leader to answer whether a “Harvard student calling for the mass murder of African-Americans is not protected free speech at Harvard, correct?”

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Stefanik also asked Gay if she was familiar with the term “intifada,” which she described “in the context of the Israeli-Arab conflict” as “a call for violent armed resistance against the state of Israel, including violence against civilians and the genocide of Jews.” Stefanik cited multiple instances of Harvard students chanting, “There is only one solution. Intifada, Revolution,” and “globalize the intifada” in the weeks following the October 7 massacre. 

Harvard President Claudine Gay, MIT President Sally Kornbluth, and University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill at a congressional hearing

Harvard President Claudine Gay, MIT President Sally Kornbluth, and University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Gay said she considered that type of hateful speech “personally abhorrent” and admitted that speech calling for intifada, and therefore genocide against the Jewish people in Israel and around the world, was “at odds with the values of Harvard.” She was not specific when Stefanik asked if those sorts of remarks were against Harvard University’s code of conduct. 

University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill resigned Saturday after days of criticism following her Congressional hearing. The move was applauded by Republican New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, who aggressively questioned her as well.

“One down. Two to go,” Stefanik posted to social media Saturday. “This is only the very beginning of addressing the pervasive rot of antisemitism that has destroyed the most ‘prestigious’ higher education institutions in America. This forced resignation of the president of @Penn is the bare minimum of what is required. These universities can anticipate a robust and comprehensive Congressional investigation of all facets of their institutions negligent perpetration of antisemitism including administrative, faculty, funding, and overall leadership and governance.”

“@Harvard and @MIT do the right thing. The world is watching,” she added.

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Harvard President Claudine Gay

Harvard Pres. Claudine Gay testified before Congress over antisemitism on the college campus (Getty Images)

Magill and Gay both attempted to walk back their rhetoric after they were hit for their comments during the testimony. 

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