Glenn Greenwald: What really caused Claudine Gay’s ouster?

Glenn Greenwald: What really caused Claudine Gay’s ouster?

Three Ivy League presidents were hauled before Congress to be interrogated, and were then pushed out of their positions, because of a campaign led by the billionaire hedge fund manager and fanatical Israel supporter Bill Ackman

One was guilty of plagiarism 25 years ago; the other two had stellar records

Akman’s campaign was part of what has been the longstanding effort in the United States, especially on college campuses, to restrict the free speech rights of critics of Israel…

It became a blacklist in the United States, a no-hire blacklist organized by some of the most powerful people in the country…

By Glenn Greenwald, reposted from Rumble and Locals, January 3, 2024

View full video here and below

Excerpts from the transcript are below

Tonight: less than a month after the University of Pennsylvania forced the resignation of its university president, Liz Magill, Harvard yesterday fired its president, Claudine Gay. Exactly like Magill, Gay became the target of intense public pressure campaigns after both of them, along with MIT President Sally Kornbluth, were hauled before Congress to be interrogated about allegations of rising bigotry on their campuses.

Not just any bigotry, but anti-Semitism in particular. In the wake of that congressional testimony, which was condemned not only by pro-Israel conservatives but also by Democratic Party elected officials and even the Biden White House, they all agreed, apparently, in Washington, that these university presidents had done an extremely poor and even disgraceful job in answering questions about Israel and anti-Semitism. A campaign was lodged demanding the firing of all three of them.

Gay’s resignation yesterday came after conservative journalists and activists proved persuasively that Gay had committed serious plagiarism. But one has to be extremely naive to believe that that was the reason Gay was forced to resign, and even more naive to believe that this concern about integrity in academic writing was what motivated the campaign against her.

Indeed, Magill, the Penn president, was forced out by the very same faction, despite no plagiarism allegations of any kind. Now, the leader of this campaign, the real leader, the billionaire hedge fund manager and fanatical Israel supporter Bill Ackman, is already targeting Kornbluth who, like Magill at Penn, also does not have a plagiarism scandal, but she does have an Israel and anti-Semitism scandal.

Liz Magill was already under fire: The day before the October 7 attack, there was a pressure campaign from Israel supporters and major donors at Penn because the campus was permitting a literary event filled with Palestinian writers. (photo)

American elites occupying prestigious positions are known for many things. Accountability is not one of them. It is extremely rare that someone who occupies such a lofty height in American institutions of authority is brought down this way, let alone two in less than a month. And it is rarer still for that to happen due to some kind of ethical transgression. Anyone paying even minimal attention to events in the United States over the past couple of decades would tackle with laughter the suggestion that the people at the helm of the country’s most powerful institutions get fired or ousted because they are guilty of ethical misconduct.

What elites do lose their job over, however, are two things: offending those with even greater power than they have, such as the billionaire Bill Ackman and his friends, or crossing or appearing to cross ideological red lines that are the real taboos in American society.

Many people on the right are celebrating because they seem to have convinced themselves that they scored some grand victory for their side by taking out the presidents of these two universities. But is this really a victory for the American right or is this simply yet another victory for the sectors of American political and financial establishment power? His views on Israel happened to fully align with the majority of American conservatives in this case who have succeeded in imposing even more robust limits on the range of views that may and may not be expressed on college campuses in the United States. We’ll look at all the relevant events and the facts to answer that question.

Then: from the start of Israel’s war in Gaza, the weapons and bombs that Israel has been using have been not just paid for by the United States and therefore by American citizens but have been furnished directly from the Pentagon stockpiles—a stockpile already heavily depleted due to the U.S. spending 18 months financing and arming the war in Ukraine.

Remember that war? Regardless of one’s views on having the U.S. fund Israel’s wars or not, there are laws barring presidents from transferring lethal arms of this kind without congressional approval. There are also laws requiring congressional approval for a president to deploy military force in a region like the Middle East, as the Biden administration has been doing in the Red Sea while it threatens Yemen as retaliation for attacks on commercial ships.

I know from experience that when it comes to war, some people get very excited whenever it comes time for the U.S. to bomb things and blow things up. Questions of legality and constitutionality seem boring and beside the point. But there are reasons, important ones, why the Constitution vests these war powers in Congress, and we should not tolerate a president simply ignoring constitutional limits in the law, especially when it comes to war—even if doing so in one case may be beneficial to Israel.

….now we have two presidents of universities, both of whom have been fired in the past month or are forced out. That is a very rare event for a university president, especially ones at major institutions like the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard, two Ivy League schools, to be forced out. And now there’s an attempt to fire or get fired or forced to resign a third one, the president of MIT.

One of the things that happened in the firing of the Harvard president was that she was caught and she was absolutely caught by conservative journalists who did their jobs in proving that she actually engaged in serial plagiarism. They looked at her academic record of writing and published peer-reviewed journals, and either they or somebody who had hired people to do it found that she was guilty of copying other people’s work without credit.

I’m somebody who’s written a lot of books. I’ve written six books. I have written many, many articles over the past 20 years. And I know that what she did is something that doesn’t come from just negligence or having something slip your mind; it’s being incredibly reckless and irresponsible with how you’re taking somebody else’s ideas and pretending that they’re your own. Even the most careful people might forget a quotation mark here or there or a certain way of attribution. But to do it to that extent, that severely in article after article after article over many years, that is more than just mild negligence, that is genuine recklessness, if not outright theft. Harvard students are fired for much less when it comes to plagiarism.

So, the question of whether Claudine Gay is guilty of plagiarism to me is not a difficult one. It’s an easy one. The question of whether or not that was the real reason she was fired, however, is a much more interesting and complex question, in large part because the same people who celebrated and caused her firing just got the president of Penn fired less than a month ago.

She didn’t have any plagiarism scandal. She didn’t have any scandal at all.

And now they want to get the MIT president, Sally Kornbluth, fired, even though she has no plagiarism or other ethical scandals at all.

When Sally Kornbluth was inaugurated as MIT’s president, she called on the Institute to come together to “create an environment in which every individual has the freedom and support to flourish and grow.” Although her scholarship was unblemished, Ackman worked to push her out claiming she was antisemitic, despite the fact that she is Jewish and has no history of bigotry. (photo)

What they have in common instead is the fact that all three have been accused of permitting too much anti-Israel or “anti-Semitic” speech on their campus. In other words, they were guilty of refusing to censor sufficiently in the eyes of the people who hold them for Congress. That is what they have in common. They have an Israel scandal. They have an “anti-Semitism” scandal.

They do not have a plagiarism scandal. Claudine Gay does, but the other two presidents do not.

And Claudine Gay’s plagiarism has actually been known for a while. There were newer and more severe examples that emerged over the past several weeks, but not the kind that would have ordinarily just gotten her fired. People wouldn’t have focused on it. People wouldn’t have cared, absent this broader context, and this is how you can see what the real taboo in American society is, the thing that you cannot survive, which is either, as I said, making genuinely powerful people angry, such as the billionaire donors of tens or hundreds of millions of dollars to these colleges. Obviously, they have a huge say in what can and cannot happen at those colleges.

They are pretty shy, usually, or timid or in private about using that power because it’s not a very comfortable image to have American billionaires who have immense wealth and therefore immense power using it so flagrantly to dictate to our leading institutions of higher learning what types of ideas they should and should not permit to be expressed by students or faculty on campus.

And yet, ever since October 7, which I’m starting to view more and more, it has led to a tsunami of censorship, firings for expressing views, changes to language and all kinds of claims of racism against anybody who disagrees…

….People have been able to exploit October 7, the attack in Israel, to become much more overt about the sort of things they want done. And so, you have a lot of billionaires now openly dictating to these colleges, not just that they should fire their president, but also that they should impose far greater restrictions on the kinds of speech that are tolerated, speech about a foreign country, about Israel, and the U.S. funded war in Israel.

That’s the real source of what happened here. So, you can lose your job as an American if you anger very powerful people or if you cross actual red lines, not contrived red lines, not red lines people claim they’re boldly crossing, even though they do so and nothing happens to them but the real red lines, the real taboos, the things that get you fired if you say or appear to be adjacent to you.

So, let’s look at the facts here to ask ourselves, number one, why did Claudine Gay really get forced out of Harvard in the context of everything that’s been happening in our country since October 7, in the wake of the successful effort first to oust the president of Penn, the current effort already underway to oust the president of MIT? Who and what really caused this firing? And then, for whom is this really a victory? Is this really a victory for the American right that feels like they have been censored and targeted and persecuted legally and culturally and on academic campuses? Or is this just another victory for establishment factions in the U.S. whose pro-Israel views in this particular case just so happened to align with the vast majority of American conservatives who also believe the United States should be funding Israel’s wars as they’re doing?

Here is an article from The New York Times that reports on the forcing of Claudine Gay’s resignation.


New Plagiarism Allegations Force Out Claudine Gay

Backlash over Harvard’s response to anti-Semitism on campus led to increased scrutiny of her academic record.

 So, you see The New York Times carefully attributing her firing both to plagiarism, as well as to the controversy over her views on Israel’s anti-Semitism. And I think that is one thing that we can allow, that both things are true. She actually was guilty of plagiarism and certainly, a president of a major university probably should be removed if they’re proven to have engaged in serial plagiarism, given the fact that it’s an academic institution, someone who leads the institution ought to have high ethical integrity. And you cannot sustain an institution that punishes young students for a transgression but allows the president of the institution to skate free when found engaging in far worse transgressions.

At the same time, nobody would have cared about this. Nobody would have been researching her. Nobody would have been spending a lot of money as it seems to find out what she did 25 years ago, in an obscure academic journal, if not for the fact that she had become a political target, given her testimony alongside the President of Penn and the MIT about the alleged increase or crisis of bigotry, namely anti-Semitism on American college campuses.

So, here’s how The New York Times describes this: 

Support for Dr. Gay’s nascent presidency began eroding after what some saw as the university’s initial failure to forcefully condemn the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel and some pro-Palestinian student responses. Outrage grew in early December after Dr. Gay gave what critics saw as lawyerly, evasive answers before Congress when asked whether calls for the genocide of Jewish people were violations of school policies.

The December congressional hearing also led to the ouster of Elizabeth Magill of the University of Pennsylvania, whose support had already been shaken in recent months over her refusal to cancel a Palestinian writers’ conference. She resigned as Penn’s president four days later. (The New York Times, January 2, 2024)

 There are several parts of this that I think are incredibly important here. First of all, we have what brought Claudine Gay into public controversy, which is what The New York Times describes as “the university’s initial failure to forcefully condemn the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.”

Why should we want universities as an institution to weigh in on political controversies at all?

There are students at Harvard and at most American institutions of higher learning who believe that Israel is the victim in the Israel-Palestine conflict, that the United States has some kind of moral duty to fund the Israeli military, and to fund Israel’s wars, as the United States does and has been doing for the last several decades, even though millions of Israelis have a higher standard of living than millions of Americans.

There are a lot of people who simply believe that it doesn’t matter, that Americans should go to work and pay taxes, and that those taxes should then be used to finance Israel’s military and its wars. Israel is such an important foreign country to the United States we have the moral obligation to finance it and fund it and to provide it with all the bombs and weapons it needs or wants whenever it goes to war with its neighbors, which is quite often.

But then you have people in these American institutions of higher learning who believe that the Israelis are primarily to blame for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

You know all the arguments.

They’re occupying the West Bank in a way that the world considers illegal, that the United States government has long opposed under both parties. They are blockaded in Gaza and have been for 20 years. They don’t allow the people of Gaza to leave by air because they bombed the airport, they don’t allow them to leave by sea because they will kill them if they try and take boats and leave and along with the U.S.-funded dictator in Egypt, they don’t allow anyone in Gaza to leave by land.

It’s very rare for the people of Gaza to be permitted to leave Gaza and as a result, other people say, at Harvard and elsewhere, that it’s not the Palestinians to blame, but that it’s Israel to blame and that the two countries are basically in a constant state of warfare. Some people believe that the conflict is Israel’s fault largely or overwhelmingly.

So, you have students on both sides of this issue and a lot of people in between. Why should we want institutions like Harvard or Penn to weigh in institutionally at all on our political debates? Why was Harvard somehow obligated to comment on who’s to blame for a conflict on the other side of the world? Why should American universities be doing this at all?

It is true they have been doing this. They’ve been doing it on issues of race. They’ve been doing it on issues of LGBT equality. They’ve been doing it on immigration, they’ve been doing it on policing. They’ve been doing it on affirmative action. So, there is an argument to make. Why would they suddenly stop doing it when it came to Israel and Palestine and to the October 7 attack?

But just as is true for censorship—censorship on college campuses and elsewhere—when an institution is doing something wrong, the solution is not to call for them to do more of it. The solution is to call for them to stop it entirely.

So, I thought it was extremely odd that somehow these institutions, in the eyes of many Americans, were duty bound to weigh in on a political controversy not even involving America, the country where they are situated, but involving this one foreign country, Israel.

There are conflicts all over the world all the time, in Russia and Ukraine, in Sudan, in various places in Africa and the Middle East, and we don’t expect universities to weigh in collectively, institutionally, on every conflict or any political conflict. And so that was always a very bizarre grievance. But that absolutely was a major grievance that enraged people that these institutions, which all condemn the Hamas attack, didn’t do so robustly enough. They didn’t do so angrily enough. They didn’t do so with enough conviction.

Claudine Gay ended up being president of Harvard for only six or seven months, the shortest tenure of any Harvard president in the history of the institution.

She also provoked anger, as the New York Times says, because of some pro-Palestinian student responses. And I think this is really the key to everything.



As you may recall, in the wake of the October 7 attack, some student groups at Harvard and other universities exercised their constitutional rights under the First Amendment, as people legally in the United States, citizens of the United States or here legally to study, to express their political views, and they signed statements saying that they thought Israel was to blame for the conflict.

They opposed any attempt by the Israelis to hold people collectively accountable or to collectively punish the people in Gaza. And there were a lot of people offended by the statements that some pro-Palestinian groups issued, including pro-Palestinian groups that are composed entirely of Jewish students or many different kinds of students, including American Jews, who are critical of Israel.

There was a sense that somehow these institutions had engaged in misconduct by allowing student groups at these campuses who blame Israel or who are opposed to Israel to issue statements expressing their political opinions in the United States. That was the real anger.

Bill Ackman, hedge fund billionaire and devoted Israel partisan. (photo)

That was, as you might recall, and we’ll show you this in a minute, what prompted the real leader of this effort to purge American academia of Israel critics, Bill Ackman, who has been long using his wealth to try to pressure these institutions to reform in his vision. That was really what angered him the most: Harvard allowed a group of Harvard students, we interviewed two of them, to sign a statement that condemned Israel and blamed Israel for the broader Palestinian Israeli context. And you, of course, might think that that statement was reprehensible. You disagree with that.

But clearly, college students have the right in America, at least in theory, at least under the Constitution, to express their views on a war that involves two foreign countries or two foreign entities. And yet there seems to be a lot of rage, a lot of anger that these institutions allowed students to express their political opinions freely, that they didn’t punish them, that they expelled them.

As you may recall, Bill Ackman demanded that these individual students, who signed this petition in the name of these student groups—that was enough for him—had their names divulged. The names of these student groups were divulged, and a lot of the people whose names were divulged didn’t agree with the statement and hadn’t been part of these groups for a long time, but a lot of them did and then

Bill Ackman started saying that because they blamed Israel, people shouldn’t hire them. He wasn’t going to hire them. A bunch of other CEOs who apparently have a strong affection or affinity for Israel started saying, yeah, we’re not going to hire these people either.

It became a blacklist in the United States, a no-hire blacklist organized by some of the most powerful people in the country.

And that was when this crusade against these university presidents really came straight. Their real crime was they didn’t defend Israel enough, institutionally, and they permitted their students the right to free speech. That is really what their crime has been both from the start and at the congressional hearing.

Let me just show you these other parts of this New York Times article, just because there are a couple of other crucial facts here, and we’re going to get to this part in the video of the congressional hearing. But The New York Times recalls, I think, fairly that what critics got angry about were “her lawyerly evasive answers before Congress when asked whether calls for the genocide of Jewish people were violations of school policies.”

I want to show you what she actually said and what the other two presidents actually said when asked about that, to show you what they’re really being punished for was their attempt to defend the rights of college students to express political views protected by the Constitution. We should want university presidents giving answers that say we believe in broad and robust protection of free speech, even if they don’t in other instances, even if they’re being hypocritical, we should not be celebrating the firing of university professors. They spoke up in defense of free speech too aggressively because in this particular case, they were defending the free speech rights of Israel critics.

Here is the other extremely interesting and important component to all of this, which is The New York Times recalls that even before October 7, Liz Magill, the president of the University of Pennsylvania had seen her support already shaken because she refused to cancel a Palestinian writers’ conference.

The day before the October 7 attack, on October 6, I saw a report about a pressure campaign from Israel supporters and major donors at the University of Pennsylvania who were angry that the campus was permitting a literary event filled with Palestinian writers.

Of course, they claimed they were anti-Semitic, which is basically synonymous with criticizing Israel. But even if they were anti-Semitic, Universities are supposed to allow free speech. We want universities to allow free speech. The policy of the University of Pennsylvania is to follow the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the First Amendment. So as long as it’s not illegal speech, it is permitted.

That was why Israel supporters, powerful Israel supporters and donors of the U. of Pennsylvania, were angry at her before October 7. She refused to cancel an event that featured Palestinian speakers whose views diverged from these billionaire donors. This is before October 7. So, this attempt to force universities to punish, suppress, or restrict the Free speech rights of faculty and students to not permit criticisms of Israel pre-dated October 7.

October 7 became the pretext to do that. Just like a lot of people in the United States before 9/11 wanted the United States government to go and invade Iraq and Iran to bring regime change to those countries and it took 9/11 for them to at least get the invasion of Iraq which was something they wanted long before 9/11. They just use 9/11 as an excuse.

It’s exactly similar to how Jan 6 was exploited. Namely, there were a lot of people in the incoming Biden administration who said that they regarded right-wing domestic extremism as the greatest threat to national security. They wanted a new domestic terrorism law to be able to have the FBI unleash against right-wing extremists, as they called it, and then they used January 6, labeled it an insurrectionary movement and were then able to exploit it…..

….Now, here is that congressional hearing, and I want to emphasize this is a case where social media distorts reality so much. The vast majority of people have an understanding of what happened at this congressional hearing and what these three college presidents said based on an extremely viral clip of their answers to the Republican congresswoman, Elise Stefanik of New York.

There was a long hearing and hours of testimony that came before this series of questions and then infused it with all sorts of important context and meaning which was stripped out of this exchange deliberately to make it seem as though they were saying something they weren’t.

So, let’s watch, first of all, what happened here, because this went mega viral. It was the top story in every news media account, the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro, came out and condemned very strongly the University of Pennsylvania president for her answers here. The Biden White House called the answers of the three of them disgraceful. So, let’s just remind ourselves of what actually happened here.


(Video. Rep. Elise Stefanik, House Hearings. December 5, 2023)


Elise Stefanik: […] At MIT, does calling for the genocide of Jews violate MIT’s code of conduct or rules regarding bullying and harassment? Yes or no?


Sally Kornbluth: If targeted at individuals, not making public statements.


Elise Stefanik: Yes or no. Calling for the genocide of Jews does not constitute bullying and harassment.


Sally Kornbluth: I have not heard calling for the genocide of Jews on our campus.


Elise Stefanik: But you’ve heard chants for intifada. I’ve heard chants which can be anti-Semitic depending on the context when calling for the elimination of the Jewish people.


OK. That part right there already undermines and subverts what a lot of people believe happened here. When the congresswoman asked, “Are statements advocating the genocide of Jews a violation of university policy?” The context was not just at this hearing, but more broadly, an attempt to take standard pro-Palestinian slogans like ‘Free Palestine’ or ‘Palestinians will be free from the river to the sea’ and define them to secretly be calling for the murder of all Jews worldwide, a genocide against Jews like happened in the Holocaust.

And it’s very similar to what left-liberal censorship advocates do when it comes to trying to justify the censorship of right-wing speech. They take right-wing ideas on hot-button issues like immigration, affirmative action, or trans issues and they redefine right-wing views so that they can claim that the reason right-wing views have to be censored is not because it dissents from left-wing orthodoxy, but instead because it’s genocidal. They want black people murdered. They want to incite violence against immigrants. They want to incite genocide against trans people. This is the left-liberal tactic for censorship: to redefine speech. The idea is inherently racist, inherently bigoted and inherently genocidal, and therefore, on that basis, justify their censorship.

That is exactly—exactly—what pro-Israel activists, including many pro-Israel activists on the American right, have been doing from the start.

There have been these amazing folks claiming that there are hordes of people running around American college campuses chanting ‘Gas the Jews’ or ‘Kill all Jews.’ This did not happen. This did not happen. This is a hoax. It’s a fabrication.

If you disagree with me, I fully understand why. So many people have repeated this enough times that a lot of people assume it must be true but go and find a video of any students on American college campuses who have chanted Kill all Jews or Gas the Jews. You will not find it. I have asked hundreds of people who believe it happened over the last month to show me an example of a video of students chanting this or a news report stating they did. The idea that there are genocidal statements on American college campuses against Jews depends on taking pro-Palestinian slogans like “Free Palestine” or “Palestinians will be free from the river to the sea” and claiming that they’re genocidal and only then saying to these universities’ presidents “Do you consider genocidal statements against Jews to be a violation of campus policy?”

And that’s why the president of MIT immediately said, I have not heard any calls for genocide against Jews at MIT. And then Elise Stefanik said, “Well, what about Intifada?”—which is the Arabic word for uprising.

Is it possible that people, when they say ‘Free Palestine’ or ‘Palestinians, will be free from the river to the sea’ or ‘intifada’ mean violence against Israel? Yes, that’s possible. Is violence against Israel the same as genocide against Jews? Of course not.

People advocate bombing Iran or flattening Gaza, but that doesn’t mean that someone’s engaging in genocidal speech against Iranians or Arabs. I mean, you could make an argument that ‘Flatten Gaza’ is a much more genocidal statement than all of these other examples, but certainly it would be free speech to advocate flattening Gaza or turning it into a parking lot. That has been something that has been said by a lot of American supporters of Israel and a lot of Israeli officials. We’ve shown in the videos people saying that many times.

But that was the fraud of this hearing. The university president said: “It depends on the context.” It depends on what you mean. If a student writes an op-ed in The New York Times or our campus newspaper saying “Free Palestine” or “Palestinians will be freed from the river to the sea,” of course, that’s not a violation of university policy that should justify the punishment of a student. That’s called free speech. And we do not have an Israel exception for free speech in the United States —at least we shouldn’t.

This phrase “From the river to the sea” is included in the party platform of Likud, the governing political party in Israel, the political party of Benjamin Netanyahu. It says there that all the territory, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea belongs to Israel. That is as genocidal of a statement against Palestinians, as Palestinians saying “Palestinians will be free from the river to the sea” is against Israelis, which, by the way, is not the same thing as Jews.

And so, there are all sorts of things that could be racist. It might be racist to oppose permissive immigration laws. There are probably some people who oppose immigration because they’re white nationalists, but it doesn’t mean that all people who oppose immigration are racists. There probably are some people who are racist to oppose affirmative action. That’s the reason for opposing affirmative action. It doesn’t mean all people who oppose affirmative action are racist.

There may be people who actually want to do violence against trans people who say things like, “I believe in the eradication of transgenderism from American society” but it doesn’t mean that everybody who questions trans dogma or the full agenda of trans rights, believes in violence against trans people, which is why all those views are permissible on college campuses and elsewhere.

People can’t be punished for those views. They can’t be prosecuted. And if they are, that’s wrong. The idea is to oppose such speech oppressions and in exactly the same way, even if some people who say “Free Palestine” or “Intifada” or “From the river to the sea” are advocating violence against Israelis or even Jews, it doesn’t mean all people who are engaging in those phrases are. And even if they were, you’re permitted under the First Amendment to advocate violence.

You’re permitted to advocate violence against Iran. You’re permitted to advocate violence against Iraq. You’re permitted to advocate violence against Yemen. You’re permitted to advocate violence against Gaza, and you’re permitted to advocate violence against Israel.

There is no Israel exception to free speech doctrine in the United States, nor should there be. I really should say there shouldn’t be. There seems actually to be.

So, when these university presidents were being asked this and I’m going to play the rest of it, and they kept saying “It depends on the context,” they were defending a conception of free speech that we want to uphold, not that we want to punish. But trying to get them all fired for this, not for plagiarism—for this— is part of what has been the longstanding effort in the United States, especially on college campuses, to restrict the free speech rights of critics of Israel. That’s what this is about. That’s what these three university presidents have in common and nothing else.


(Video. Rep. Elise Stefanik, House Hearings. December 5, 2023)


Elise Stefanik: So those would not be according to the MIT’s code of conduct or rules?


Sally Kornbluth: that would be investigated as harassment —if pervasive and severe.


Elise Stefanik: Miss Magill at Penn, does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Penn’s rules or code of conduct? Yes or no?


Liz Magill: If the speech turns into conduct, it can be harassment. Yes.


Elise Stefanik: I am asking specifically. Calling for the genocide of Jews, does that constitute bullying or harassment?


Liz Magill: If it is directed and severe or pervasive, it is harassment.


Elise Stefanik: So, the answer is yes.


Liz Magill: It is a context-dependent decision, Congresswoman.


Elise Stefanik: It’s a context-dependent decision. That’s your testimony today? Calling for the genocide of Jews is depending upon the context, that is not bullying or harassment? This is the easiest question to answer yes, Ms. Magill. So, is your testimony that you will not answer […]


Liz Magill: if it is, if this […]


Elise Stefanik: Yes or no?


Liz Magill: If the speech becomes conduct, it can be harassment, yes.


One of the problems here is that they have spent their lives in academia and they’re incapable of expressing themselves like normal human beings who communicate in a normal way. They’re so overly lawyered and bureaucratic. And so, they just had these phrases that were written down for them on paper. They had no ability. These are very educated people. Liz Magill is a constitutional lawyer. And yet she has made the most muddled and timid case for free speech rights you could possibly make and that was one of the reasons that this looks so bad, stripped of the context, getting kind of bullied by a member of Congress who was much more certain in her crusade, which was to shield college students from having to hear criticisms of Israel. But the whole premise was a fraud.

These university presidents, despite expressing themselves so poorly, were saying the things we should want to be rewarded, not punished.


(Video. Rep. Elise Stefanik, House Hearings. December 5, 2023)


Elise Stefanik: Conduct meaning committing the act of genocide? The speech is not harassment. This is unacceptable, Ms. Magill, I’m going to give you one more opportunity for the world to see your answer. Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Penn’s code of conduct when it comes to bullying and harassment? Yes or no?


Liz Magill: It can be harassment.


Elise Stefanik: The answer is yes. And Dr. Gay, at Harvard, does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard’s rules of bullying and harassment? Yes or no?


Claudine Gay: It can be, depending on the context.


Elise Stefanik: What’s the context?


Claudine Gay: Targeted as an individual. Targeted at an individual. […]


Elise Stefanik: It’s targeted at Jewish students. Jewish individuals. Do you understand your testimony is dehumanizing them? Do you understand that dehumanization is part of anti-Semitism? I will ask you one more time. Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard’s rules of bullying and harassment? Yes or no?


Claudine Gay: Anti-Semitic rhetoric, […]


Elise Stefanik: And is it anti-Semitic rhetoric?


Claudine Gay: Anti-Semitic rhetoric, when it crosses into conduct, that amounts to bullying, harassment, intimidation, that is actionable conduct and we do take action.


Elise Stefanik: So, the answer is yes that calling for the genocide of Jews violates the Harvard Code of Conduct, Correct?


Claudine Gay: Again, it depends on the context.


Elise Stefanik: It does not depend on the context. The answer is yes, and this is why you should resign. These are unacceptable answers across the board.


All right. So, if you’re comfortable having members of Congress and then hedge fund billionaires pressuring universities successfully and saying you should resign, I want that person gone because we don’t like their answers, then, congratulations. Congratulations. You won. What has been won here? What has been won?

If you defend free speech, a lot of times you’re to be put in the uncomfortable position of people who don’t believe in free speech, of seeming like you’re defending horrible things. Do you think that Nazis, actual Nazis wearing swastikas should be able to march through a town of Holocaust survivors in Skokie, Illinois?? Yeah, I actually do think—in the United States. They should be permitted to march and protest even if they’re Nazis. So, it seems like, you know, if you have a member of Congress who wants to make a big deal about the dangers of free speech, and especially if you’re timid about expressing the defense of free speech or you’re feeling uncomfortable about it, or you’ve been told how to say it in a way that doesn’t sound human, it’s going to seem very lopsided. It’s going to seem like you’re a monster because you’re defending the right of Nazis, people with swastikas on their arms. But yes, that’s actually what we do want in the United States and on college campuses. We want the right of people to go and march even if it’s against Israel, even if some students feel uncomfortable hearing those statements—even if—it’s still free speech and we should want it to be. And yet their crime was that they were unwilling to say that people should be punished for that.

The distinction that we’re trying to draw is that if you go up to a specific Jewish student every day and scream ‘Jews to the gas chambers” or you go to their dorm room and you post a Nazi symbol or a Nazi slogan on their door, then you’re specifically targeting with conduct a Jewish student. Just like if you went to a newspaper and argued that affirmative action destroys meritocracy, you would be permitted within your rights to do it. But if you go every day to a black student and scream in their face that they’re an affirmative action entry, that will then turn into bullying. That’s the difference between conduct and speech that they were drawing.

So, what has been won here is bolstering and strengthening the censorship regime that conservatives have spent years pretending to oppose (a lot of them actually do oppose it and are being consistent here, but many of them aren’t).

As I’ve said before, this is not some victory of saying, oh, we’re finally forcing the left to have to live under the censorship rule regime that they created because punishment of Israel critics has been going on for many years at American college campuses. Those are the professors who get fired, the ones who cross the line and criticize Israel too harshly. Those are the real taboos in the United States. That’s why these people are losing their jobs, not because of plagiarism that nobody cares about. It’s because of this.

Again, in an ideal world, Claudine Gay, who did actually commit plagiarism, would be fired. But that’s not the world we live in. That’s not why she was fired. And it’s not because Chris Rufo or the Washington Beacon put pressure on Harvard either. Harvard does not care about Chris Rufo or The Washington Beacon.

They deserve credit. They did a great job in doing the job of journalists. The New York Times and CNN wouldn’t do it for ideological reasons. Major kudos to them. Nothing but good things to say about them. But they’re not the reasons Harvard fired calling Claudine Gay.

The reason Harvard fired Claudine Gay is that the Biden White House condemned them because the people who write $80 million checks to the Endowment of Harvard and Penn had the public support necessary to finally get them removed.

They were trying before October 7 on free speech grounds, and now they were able to do it. That’s who won.

And I know that Bill Ackman, who has a team of PR advisers, has been very clever in pretending that his crusade is the elimination of DTI, diversity and equity inclusion on college campuses or woke. That’s not his agenda.

His agenda is Israel. Bill Ackman’s agenda is Israel, but he knows he can’t go out and say, well, what I’m really trying to do here is purge American educational institutions of criticism of Israel because he wouldn’t have a lot of public support. He’s pretending that what he’s interested in is getting rid of woke repression of ideas. Bill Ackman doesn’t want to eliminate the censorship regime. He wants to strengthen it in the protection of this foreign country. That’s the real motive of what’s going on here, which is why today Bill Ackman said, “What about you, MIT?”

Sally Kornbluth, she didn’t commit any plagiarism. She did this.

Here’s The New York Times on December 6, which is a day or two after this testimony was given.


College Presidents Under Fire After Dodging Questions About Antisemitism

The leaders of Harvard, M.I.T. and Penn appeared to evade questions about whether students should be disciplined if they call for the genocide of Jews.


Support for the presidents of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and M.I.T. eroded quickly on Wednesday after they seemed to evade what seemed like a rather simple question during a contentious congressional hearing: Would they discipline students calling for the genocide of Jews?


“It’s unbelievable that this needs to be said: Calls for genocide are monstrous and antithetical to everything we represent as a country,” said a White House spokesman, Andrew Bates.


Josh Shapiro, the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, said he found the responses by Elizabeth Magill, Penn’s president, “unacceptable.”


Even the liberal academic Laurence Tribe found himself agreeing with Representative Elise Stefanik, Republican of New York, who sharply questioned Harvard’s president, Claudine Gay.


“I’m no fan of @RepStefanik but I’m with her here,” the Harvard law professor wrote on the social media site X. “Claudine Gay’s hesitant, formulaic, and bizarrely evasive answers were deeply troubling to me and many of my colleagues, students, and friends.” (The New York Times, December 6, 2023)


It is amazing to me that a lot of conservatives don’t understand what they’re strengthening here. After the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, the EU, one of the chief bodies trying to censor the Internet and right-wing speech on the Internet, initiated, and we covered this several weeks ago, a formal investigation of Elon Musk and X, and they’re exploiting October 7 to justify that.

They say Elon Musk and X permitted too much anti-Israel and pro-Hamas propaganda on Twitter and they want more of that censored. That’s what this is all about. These are the people who are actually the beneficiaries.

If it were just the American right demanding censorship of Israel critics, then none of this would be happening. It’s happening because it’s Bill Ackman who wants it and because the Washington establishment is entirely pro-Israel. Without them, this would have been ignored.

Here is Bill Ackman on December 5. He gave his view of what happened:




And then said:




This is who won.

The irony of this as well, this idea that, oh, nothing can be said that’s genocidal, aside from the fact that a lot of right-wing speech is classified as genocide by the left, is that a lot of people think the actual genocide, like the real genocide, is what’s taking place in Gaza now.

I avoid the question of whether that term applies to what’s being done in Gaza because I don’t think it’s a particularly well-defined term and I dislike political terms that lack clear definitions like terrorism, hate speech, or disinformation. I tend to avoid those terms because they’re not well-defined. If you look at the definition of genocide, it’s not very concrete.

But in the last couple of days, the most powerful ministers in Netanyahu’s government have come out and said that the goal of this war is to cleanse Gaza of Palestinians, to get them out of Gaza. It’s certainly ethnic cleansing.

But if you want to create a standard that says, oh, actually there is a free speech exception to the free speech rights of Americans, which is speech that can be interpreted as genocide or advocacy of genocide, you could very easily make the case. A lot of people would make the case, you better hope they never get into power, that the real advocacy of genocide is cheering on the Israeli military and what they’re doing in Gaza. That’s the standard that has been now created, that there is some kind of an exception to the free speech clause in America, that if your speech can be interpreted as genocidal, is inciting violence against a minority group, then it shouldn’t be permitted. That’s the victory of the people who’ve been claiming to be crusading under the banner of free speech. Sounds like the opposite to me.

Glenn Greenwald is a journalist, former constitutional lawyer, and author of four New York Times bestselling books on politics and law. oreign Policy magazine named Greenwald one of the top 100 Global Thinkers for 2013. He was the debut winner, along with “Democracy Now’s” Amy Goodman, of the Park Center I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism in 2008, and also received the 2010 Online Journalism Award for his investigative work… more here



Enter your email address below to receive our latest articles right in your inbox.