America’s leading universities have an antisemitism problem—and it starts at the top. This past week, university presidents and deans across the country wrote to their students and faculties to express concern in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on Israel by Hamas. What they said, and what they did not say, provides a window into the culture of intellectual and moral rot and cowardice that reigns at these once-great institutions.
Those who attack Jews or Israel are all too often exempt from their excoriation. Hamas terrorists massacred some 1,300 Israelis, took approximately 200 hostages, most of them civilians, and left an additional 3,200 injured, but you would not know it from some university leaders’ missives this week.
At Harvard University, President Claudine Gay has issued three muddled statements, under pressure, on the horrific events. Her first statement was a tepid confession of “heartbreak” that implied an equivalence between the Hamas attacks and Israel neutralizing the terrorists. This embarrassment was signed by all the university’s senior deans. Only after a barrage of online criticism—and threats by donors—did she muster the strength to condemn the child killers. Not content to leave it alone, she has issued another statement, but still without criticizing the 30-odd student groups who professed to “hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible” for the murder, rape, kidnapping, and torture of Jews, referring instead to the principle of freedom of speech. Let us be clear that these students have freedom of speech, but so does Claudine Gay. She has the right to condemn their words. In 2022, Harvard denounced in no uncertain terms “the capricious and senseless invasion of Ukraine.” Harvard knows how to speak clearly about Ukrainian victims but not, apparently, about Jewish victims.