United States: Congress opens investigation into major American universities accused of anti-Semitic abuses

The turmoil linked to the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues to agitate major American universities

United States: Congress opens investigation into major American universities accused of anti-Semitic abuses

The turmoil linked to the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues to agitate major American universities. Congress announced on Thursday, December 7, that it would open an investigation into the management by three prestigious establishments of what it describes as “endemic anti-Semitism” on their campuses.

The presidents of the universities of Harvard, Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been under fire since a hearing on Tuesday at the Capitol devoted to this issue, which has resurfaced with the war currently taking place in the Gaza Strip . The most renowned universities in the United States have been ordered by donors to clearly condemn demonstrations by pro-Palestinian students.

During the hearing, Republican elected official Elise Stefanik assimilated the calls from certain students for the “intifada” – a term referring in particular to the first Palestinian revolt against the Israeli occupier – to an exhortation to a “genocide against Jews in Israel and around the world.” Unconvinced by the counter-arguments of Claudine Gay, president of Harvard University, who defended freedom of expression on campus, the New York elected official demanded her resignation. This call has since been relayed by several influential figures in the American political class.

Another excerpt from the hearing, during which the three presidents did not concretely answer the question of whether “calling for the genocide of the Jews violates the code of conduct” of their universities, was also broadcast on loop on the major television channels. American information.

“Unacceptable” responses

On Thursday, the committee responsible for education issues in the House of Representatives found that the responses of university presidents to what they described as “endemic anti-Semitism” on campuses were “unacceptable”. “The members of the commission are deeply concerned about their governance and their failure to take steps to provide Jewish students with the safe educational environment to which they are entitled,” ruled the group, in the hands of Republicans. An investigation was therefore opened to identify the “individual and institutional failings” of these elite academic institutions.

Several of the leaders interviewed have since published press releases or videos, forced to clarify their comments. “Some have confused the right to free expression with the idea that Harvard would condone calls for violence against Jewish students. I want to be clear: calls for violence or genocide against the Jewish community, or any other ethnic or religious group, are despicable,” the Harvard president said. These calls “have no place at Harvard and those who threaten our Jewish students will be held accountable,” she said.