The Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial organization has reacted to Tuesday's congressional hearing on the phenomenon of rising antisemitism on college campuses in which the Presidents of Harvard, MIT, and UPenn refused to say that calls for genocide against Jews are against university policy.
"Yesterday's congressional hearings addressing antisemitism on university and college campuses highlight the willful lack of accountability when it comes to Jews, Israel, and antisemitism on campus and in academia," the organization wrote in a statement.
"Yad Vashem is extremely alarmed by University Presidents of Harvard, MIT, and UPenn refusal to claim that genocidal calls against Jews do not violate university policy and code of conduct. In fact, when the three presidents were asked point blank whether calls for the genocide of the Jews violated university rules or code of conduct, their response was it was a 'context-dependent decision'. Yad Vashem is appalled that leaders of elite academic institutions would use misleading contextualization to minimize and excuse calls for the genocide of the Jews. The positions taken by the three university presidents in their testimonies highlight a basic ignorance of history, including the fact that the Holocaust did not start with ghettos or gas chambers but with hateful antisemitic rhetoric, decrees, and actions by senior academics, among other leaders of society," it added.
"Institutions like Yad Vashem play a critical role in raising awareness about the history of antisemitism and the Holocaust. Both are essential to confronting the current acute situation and bringing about long-term solutions," the statement concluded.
Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan reacted: "Any university, institution or society that can “contextualize” and excuse calls for genocide is doomed. I call upon university administrations to empower and train their faculty and students to better understand the dangers of antisemitism. We invite university leadership to visit Israel and Yad Vashem during this university semester break in order to learn what past calls for the genocide of Jews have led to - the Holocaust. Never Again must begin with education."