Albert Bourla remarked, “It was one of the most heinous moments in the history of U.S. academia.”
In light of the Israel-Hamas conflict, Charman and CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla, has taken to X to criticize the presidents of three prestigious US universities for failing to denounce anti-Semitism on their campuses. During a recent testimony, the statements made by the presidents of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University, and the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) have drawn criticism. On Tuesday, December 5, the three presidents gave testimony on Capitol Hill regarding growing worries about anti-Semitism on their campuses.
Elizabeth Magill of Penn, Sally Kornbluth of MIT, and Claudine Gay of Harvard were present at the hearing on Tuesday, December 5, which was titled Holding Campus Leaders Accountable and Confronting Antisemitism. The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, which is led by Republicans, questioned the three individuals.
Of all the things the presidents have said, their handling of the question of whether or not “calling for the genocide of Jews” violates the various codes of conduct at the universities has drawn the most criticism. Representative Elise Stefanik, a Republican from New York, posed this question, and all three presidents responded that the response varied depending on the situation.
One of the most heinous incidents in American academic history
I was embarrassed to hear three of the top university presidents testify recently. It was, in my opinion, one of the most heinous incidents in American academic history. The three presidents had multiple chances to denounce hateful, racist, and antisemitic speech, but they declined, citing requests for “context,” according to Bourla. “My father’s brother David, his younger sister Graciela, and his parents, Abraham and Rachel Bourla, all perished in Auschwitz, all came to mind. I questioned whether their passing would have given these presidents “context” to denounce the antisemitic propaganda of the Nazis.
Here is a photo of Graciela Bourla, who was killed in the concentration camp at the age of 17, because it is easier to “set your context” and justify anything when the victims are dehumanized. Regretfully, none of the photos of my uncle and grandparents made it out alive. I’m still curious about their appearance,” he continued.
Why does criticism aimed at university presidents exist?
For several hours, the presidents faced intense questioning regarding their disciplinary measures against students who had engaged in anti-Semitic activities. They were also questioned about the steps they were taking to guarantee campus safety and how their hiring procedures ensured that their faculty represented a range of opinions. The presidents were questioned at one point about whether it was against the various codes of conduct for the universities to “call for the genocide of Jews.”