Lawmakers introduce bipartisan resolution condemning college presidents’ response to antisemitism

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of four high-profile House lawmakers will introduce a resolution Tuesday condemning antisemitism on university campuses and the viral testimony last week of three university presidents who appeared at a House hearing.

The resolution, first obtained by NBC News, is authored by House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.; the three other lead sponsors are Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., and two Jewish American Democrats, Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Rep. Jared Moskowitz of Florida.

It is expected to get a vote this week, Stefanik’s office said.

The resolution comes exactly one week after the presidents of Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania came under fire after they appeared at a House hearing and dodged questions from Stefanik about whether students calling for the genocide of Jews violated school codes of conduct and should be punished.

Over the weekend, UPenn President Elizabeth Magill resigned over her testimony. The resolution states that Harvard President Claudine Gay and MIT President Sally Kornbluth should “follow suit” and resign.

Harvard’s highest governing body, however, said Tuesday that Gay would remain in her role.

“There is a reason why the testimony at the Education and Workforce Committee garnered 1 billion views worldwide,” Stefanik, the No. 4 GOP leader and a Harvard alum, said at a news conference earlier Tuesday. “And it’s because those university presidents made history by putting the most morally bankrupt testimony into the Congressional Record, and the world saw it.”

Moskowitz said in a statement that the university presidents were asked a “softball” question and failed the test.

“‘Does calling for the genocide of Jews count as harassment under their school’s policies?’ That’s not a trick question, and it’s infuriating that these leaders of young people would try to equivocate with some nonsense about ‘it depends on the context,'” Moskowitz said. “Sub out Jews for any other persecuted minority group and they would never have given that answer.”

The resolution states that since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, “Jewish and Israeli students have faced physical violence, hate-filled disruptions in the classroom, calls from students and faculty advocating for the elimination and destruction of Israel, and other forms of persistent harassment.”

It also states that “many university administrations have failed to address the rise of antisemitism.”

“Whereas, when the Presidents of the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology were asked if calling for the genocide of Jews violates university policies on bullying and harassment, Presidents Elizabeth Magill, Claudine Gay, and Sally Kornbluth were evasive and dismissive, failing to simply condemn such action,” the three-page resolution states. 

“Whereas President Magill stated, ‘It is a context-dependent decision’; Whereas President Gay insisted that it ‘depends on the context’; Whereas President Kornbluth responded it would only constitute harassment if it were ‘targeted at individuals’; Whereas President Magill has resigned, and the other Presidents should follow suit,” the resolution continues.

The White House has also condemned the university leaders’ remarks.

Resolutions like this one have divided Democrats since the Israel-Hamas war began earlier this fall. On Dec. 5, 13 Democrats voted against a separate, Republican-led resolution condemning antisemitism. Three Jewish American Democrats called the resolution redundant and said it “weaponized Jewish pain,” urging their colleagues to vote “present” rather than yes.

More than 90 Democrats ended up voting present.

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