December 6th, 2023

By Alexander Hall


A left-wing professor emeritus at Harvard, Laurence Tribe, praised New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik for how she questioned Harvard president Claudine Gay about rampant calls for violence against Israel and Jewish people on campus.

Stefanik, a Harvard alumni herself, questioned Gay at a Committee on Education & the Workforce hearing on “Holding Campus Leaders Accountable and Confronting Antisemitism.” Gay was specifically questioned about Harvard’s failure to condemn antisemitism and anti-Israeli rhetoric on campus after the October 7 terror attacks and ensuing war and protests that followed.

Stefanik shared a clip from the hearing that made news headlines, where she repeatedly asked Gay about whether calls for “genocide of Jews” on campus qualify as a violation of Harvard’s rules against bullying and harassment, as Gay repeatedly dodged.

“The President of @Harvard cannot answer the basic question: ‘Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard’s rules regarding bullying and harassment?’” Stefanik wrote. “She literally cannot just say YES. The only acceptable answer is YES.”

Tribe, a professor emeritus at Harvard University who has previously made headlines for his liberal opposition to former President Trump, praised Stefanik for how she questioned the leader of his university.

“I’m no fan of @RepStefanik but I’m with her here. Claudine Gay’s hesitant, formulaic, and bizarrely evasive answers were deeply troubling to me and many of my colleagues, students, and friends,” he wrote.

In the clip he shared from Stefanik, the congresswoman could be seen asking Gay, “Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard’s rules on bullying and harassment?”

“The rules around bullying and harassment are quite specific,” Gay replied. “And if the context in which that language is used amounts to bullying and harassment, then we take action against it.”

Stefanik asked for a direct answer, “Can you say ‘yes’ to that question of, ‘Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard’s rules on bullying and harassment?’”

“Calling for the genocide of Jews is antisemitic,” Gay replied, appearing to dodge the question.

When Stefanik asked if that was an affirmative answer, Gay replied, “and that is antisemitic speech, and as I’ve said.”

“And it’s a ‘yes?’” Stefanik asked, pressing her inquiry.

“When speech crosses into conduct, we take action,” Gay replied.

Stefanik pressed the inquiry again, “So is that a ‘yes?’ Is that a ‘yes?’ The witness hasn’t answered, Madam Chair. Is that a ‘yes?’” Stefanik asked, before appearing to suggest that Gay “cannot answer the question.”

“When speech crosses into conduct, we take action,” Gay replied.

Tribe’s post caught the attention of former top Trump advisor Stephen Miller.

“So then you’ll support abolishing DEI, ending race-based discrimination, terminating complicit officials, and deporting foreign students who support Hamas and intifada?” Miller asked.

Gay was not the only university president questioned during the hearing. Massachusetts Institute of Technology president Sally Kornbluth faced similar questioning from Stefanik, causing an incoming professor of Jewish heritage to question university leadership as well.

“Hey @MIT, I’ll be a visiting prof in your econ dept next yr. Could you clarify the “context” in which it’s ok for your students to call for me & my family to be murdered? I want to avoid awkwardly calling out my wannabe murderers when they’re actually following your rules,” Jonathan Roth asked.