Univ. of Pennsylvania President Resigns After ‘Genocide of Jews’ Testimony


Liz Magill, the president of the University of Pennsylvania, has announced her resignation after facing criticism for equivocating over the issue of the “genocide of Jews” and whether calling for it violated the university’s rules. The announcement came from the university itself, with a statement from a member of the Board of Trustees confirming Magill’s resignation. However, she will continue to serve as a tenured faculty member at Penn Carey Law.

The controversy surrounding Magill emerged during a contentious week on Capitol Hill, where she, along with presidents from Harvard and MIT, faced questioning from lawmakers regarding the rise of antisemitism on college campuses following the terrorist attacks in Israel on October 7th. Republican Representative Elise Stefanik asked Magill directly if calling for the genocide of Jews violated the university’s rules or code of conduct. Instead of providing a clear yes or no answer, Magill gave a nuanced response, stating that it depended on the context. She suggested that if such speech turned into action, it could potentially constitute harassment.

Stefanik pressed Magill for a more direct answer, asking whether calling for the genocide of Jews was a violation of the university’s rules. Magill continued to give conditional responses, leading to a tense exchange. The video of this exchange went viral, and Magill later issued an apology in a video posted on Penn’s social media platforms. In the video, she made it clear that calling for the genocide of Jews is a violation of the university’s policies, which is something she should have stated clearly from the beginning.

Many were shocked that Magill did not immediately condemn and reject the notion of calling for the genocide of Jews, regardless of the context or nuances surrounding campus protests. The incident prompted discussions about how universities handle free speech and hate speech. When asked about whether the Ku Klux Klan calling for the genocide of African-Americans on a college campus would be treated the same way, a representative from MIT, known for advocating free speech, gave a puzzling response, indicating that it would be dealt with differently without providing clear reasons.

This controversy is intertwined with the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, which has sparked protests across the country. Some of the rhetoric used in these protests, particularly criticisms of Zionism, has been viewed as antisemitic hate speech. It is important to approach each case individually and consider the specific circumstances. However, it should be unequivocally clear that calling for the genocide of any group is morally wrong and unacceptable.

The resignation of Magill raises questions about the role of university leaders in handling sensitive issues, promoting inclusivity, and upholding the values of their institutions. It serves as a reminder that leaders must clearly and promptly condemn hate speech and discriminatory actions, regardless of the complexities surrounding these issues.

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