COLLEGES + UNIVERSITIES

Rabbi on Harvard president’s statement: “it’s the wrong apology”

Dec 13, 2023, 12:52 PM | Updated: 1:30 pm

Dr. Claudine Gay, President of Harvard University, testifies before the House Education and Workfor...

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 05: Dr. Claudine Gay, President of Harvard University, testifies before the House Education and Workforce Committee at the Rayburn House Office Building on December 05, 2023 in Washington, DC. The Committee held a hearing to investigate antisemitism on college campuses. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Following the controversial responses about anti-semitism by three Ivy League University presidents, Harvard’s president Claudine Gay issued an apology. The Harvard Crimson reported that during an interview with them, Gay said “I’m sorry … words matter.” 

During the Dec. 5 congressional hearing on antisemitism, Harvard’s president was asked if calling for the genocide of Jews is a violation of Harvard’s code of conduct. Gay’s response was, “it can be, depending on the context.” 

Gay, as well as the presidents of the University of Pennsylvania and MIT, have faced backlash for their testimonies

Rabbi responds to Harvard president’s apology

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, the president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, said that “[the] apology wasn’t an apology.” 

Hirschfield said that Harvard’s president apologized for hurting the feelings of Harvard’s Jewish students and causing them distress. He added that Gay’s statements during the congressional hearings failed all minority groups on Harvard’s campus. 

“What she needed to apologize for was her absence of moral clarity, and her failure of leadership,” said Hirschfield. The rabbi added that “even if it was an apology … it’s the wrong apology.” 

According to Hirschfield, the world has witnessed the place antisemitism has on Harvard’s campus over the past eight weeks. Had Gay acknowledged that and offered a plan of action, “her words would not have done violence to honesty and self-awareness,” said Hirschfield. 

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Rabbi on Harvard president’s statement: “it’s the wrong apology”