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Claudine Gay resigns from Harvard, weeks after contentious antisemitism hearing

(JTA) – Harvard University President Claudine Gay has resigned in the wake of plagiarism allegations and months-long criticism of her response to allegations of antisemitism at the school. 

Gay is the second Ivy League university president to step down following congressional testimony on campus antisemitism last month that drew intense criticism. University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill resigned her post on Dec. 9.

Gay had also faced criticism over the school’s initial statement on Hamas’ Oct. 7 invasion of Israel. Critics called the statement tepid, particularly in the wake of a letter from a coalition of student groups that blamed the attack on Israel. The Department of Education has also opened a civil rights investigation into one reported instance of a Jewish Harvard student being targeted on campus.

Soon after the congressional testimony, the university’s trustees, known as the Harvard Corporation, voiced its support for Gay’s continued leadership. On Dec. 13, the board issued a statement backing her and appearing to curb speculation that she would resign

Instead Gay, the first Black president in the school’s history, will also become its shortest-tenured; she has served for just over six months. In addition to her handling of antisemitism, she was also under fire for allegations of plagiarism in her research papers. A new wave of plagiarism accusations surfaced this week.

Alan Garber, Harvard’s Jewish provost, will serve as the school’s interim president, the Harvard Corporation, announced. In November, Garber said that he had regrets about his school’s initial response to the Oct. 7 attack.  

Gay’s resignation was first reported Tuesday by the Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper.

“It has become clear that it is in the best interests of Harvard for me to resign so that our community can navigate this moment of extraordinary challenge with a focus on the institution rather than any individual,” Gay wrote in a letter to the campus community.

Criticism of Gay mounted following the Dec. 5 congressional hearing, where she, Magill and Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Sally Kornbluth said that calls for the genocide of Jews may not necessarily violate their schools’ codes of conduct. At the hearing, Gay had testified that on-campus calls for “intifada” are “personally abhorrent to me,” but stopped short of saying they would violate the university’s rules. Instead, she, like the other presidents, said such matters were dependent on “context.” 

“When speech crosses into conduct that violates our policies, including policies against bullying, harassment or intimidation, we take action and we have robust disciplinary processes that allow us to hold individuals accountable,” she said at the hearing.

That answer drew bipartisan rebuke, including from several lawmakers who are Harvard alums — such as New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, who asked the question. Gay later apologized for her testimony.

Gay’s resignation was welcomed by a vocal contingent of Jewish Harvard students, alumni and donors who had pushed to hold the Ivy League university accountable for her testimony and for what they say is an unsafe campus environment for Jewish students. Bill Ackman, a Jewish alum and billionaire hedge-fund investor, had been among the more prominent voices calling for her to step down; other Jewish donors had pledged to reduce their giving to $1 in protest, or to only donate to Jewish groups on campus. 

Calls to oust Gay were also backed by several right-wing figures, including Christopher Rufo, previously an architect of the Republican campaign against “critical race theory.”

Following Gay’s resignation, Ackman posted the message “Et tu Sally?” — an apparent reference to Kornbluth.


The post Claudine Gay resigns from Harvard, weeks after contentious antisemitism hearing appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Tribute: Rabbi Dovid Schochet, 91, a pioneer in building Toronto’s observant community

The Jewish community in Toronto lost a towering leader when Rabbi Dovid Schochet, the president of the Toronto Rabbinical Council and the senior rabbi of the Chabad community in Toronto, passed away at the age of 91 on Jan. 28. He was born in 1932 in Basel, Switzerland, the second of 10 children, to Rabbi […]

The post Tribute: Rabbi Dovid Schochet, 91, a pioneer in building Toronto’s observant community appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Attacker in 2021 Antisemitic Assault in New York Sentenced to Three Years in State Prison

Joseph Borgen, victim of an antisemitic attack, addressing a rally in Long Island. Photo: courtesy

The final criminal proceeding for the case of Joseph “Joey” Borgen, a Jewish man whom a gang of antisemites mauled and pepper-sprayed in broad daylight during protests and counter-protests over Israel’s 2021 war with Hamas, resulted in another conviction Wednesday.

Mohammed Said Othman, 29, was sentenced to three years in state prison, according to a press release issued by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg.

Borgen, who is Jewish, was wearing a kippah while walking in Manhattan when Said Othman, along with several other men, ambushed him without being provoked. They shouted antisemitic slurs at the pro-Israel advocate, who suffered a concussion, wrist injury, black eye, and bruises all over his body.

Since then, three other sentences have been handed down in the Borgen case. Waseem Awawdeh, who continuously struck Borgen with a crutch while allegedly joining the others in shouting antisemitic epithets at him, pleaded guilty to attempted assault as a hate crime and received 18 months in jail, as part of a plea bargain negotiated with Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Jonathon Junig.

In November, Mahmoud Musa received seven years in prison for his role in the attack. In December, Mohammed Othman was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in state prison and five additional years of post-release supervision.

As seen in footage of the incident, Othman kicked and repeatedly struck Borgen in the face while sitting on his chest to weigh him down. In court, he pleaded guilty to gang assault and third-degree hate crime assault.

“These defendants violently targeted and assaulted another individual simply because he is Jewish,” District Attorney Bragg said in a statement. “While this office always supports the right to peacefully protest and engage in open dialogue, these multi-year prison sentences makes clear that physically attacking someone because of their religion is never acceptable. I thank our hate crimes unit for its diligent work in this case.”

Throughout the criminal proceedings in his case, Joey Borgen called on New York City lawmakers to do more to eradicate antisemitic hatred in the five boroughs.

In December, he told The Algemeiner that while he is pleased with the outcome of the case he is worried that the group with which his attackers were allegedly affiliated, the extreme anti-Zionist organization Within Our Lifetime (WOL), is still engaging in antisemitic activity that could lead to more hate crimes.

Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, WOL has posted (and deleted) a map, titled “Know Your Enemies,” showing the addresses of Jewish organizations in New York City, and staged numerous disruptive protests. The group is led by Nerdeen Kiswani, a former City University of New York (CUNY) student who once threatened to set on fire someone’s Israel Defense Forces (IDF) hoodie while he was wearing it.

“They’re still causing havoc; they’re forcing Jewish attendees of a fundraiser to speak at the backdoor of a police van, and they’re bombarding the mother of a hostage with horrible antisemitic chants,” Borgen said. “While I’m happy that I got a positive result in my case, I’m still disturbed that this same group is still going around causing issues for Jewish people, attacking restaurants, and putting people in danger.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Attacker in 2021 Antisemitic Assault in New York Sentenced to Three Years in State Prison first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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See Mark Breslin live in conversation with Ralph Benmergui

A special live taping of our podcast ‘Not That Kind of Rabbi’.

The post See Mark Breslin live in conversation with Ralph Benmergui appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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