(New York Jewish Week) – On Sunday, Mark Shapiro will be running his 15th New York City Marathon. But as he joins the 50,000 or so runners setting out on the 26.2-mile route, he’ll do something he’s never done before: wear a T-shirt adorned with the image of an Israeli child held hostage by Hamas in Gaza.
“These are civilians and [Hamas] crossed every line. Everyone needs to support these innocent people and the hostages and their families,” Shapiro said. “It’s the biggest marathon on the planet, it gets the most coverage. Everybody who can do so really needs to use this as a platform.”
Shapiro is one of two dozen marathon runners who will race while wearing the picture of a child kidnapped by the terror group, which killed and wounded thousands in its Oct. 7 invasion of Israel while taking some 240 people captive, including dozens of children. In the nearly one month since, a massive global movement has emerged to draw attention to the hostages’ plight amid Israel’s onglong war with Hamas in Gaza. The effort has included the dissemination and posting of “Kidnapped” flyers across the globe, as well as public displays such as empty Shabbat tables, strollers and beds to symbolize the hostages’ absence.
“We just thought it would be a good way for us here in New York to remind the world to not forget about the hostages and about the fact that we have 30 children still kidnapped,” said Shany Granot-Lubaton, a prominent Israeli activist in New York City. “We’re trying to keep everyone aware of this in any way we can and the marathon is this huge event in New York.”
The New York City Marathon is the world’s largest, last year boasting more than 47,800 finishers from 131 countries. In addition, thousands of spectators line the route, which begins in Staten Island and stretches across the boroughs before ending in Central Park in the West 60s. This year’s race, the 52nd annual marathon, will be broadcast on ESPN2 as well as locally, on WABC-TV Channel 7.
Granot-Lubaton has been at the forefront of local advocacy efforts for the hostages in New York City. In the aftermath of the attack, the group she helps organize, UnXeptable — which once focused on protesting the Israeli government’s judicial overhaul — changed its motto from “Saving Israeli Democracy” to “Saving Israel.”
Over the past few weeks, Granot-Lubaton has spearheaded several events designed to raise awareness about the hostages, including a candlelight vigil at Columbus Circle on Wednesday night and demonstrations in front of the United Nations. She has also worked with delegations of the families of the missing as they arrived in New York to meet with government officials and the press.
Yaakov Shapiro, a 29-year-old Israeli who is not related to Mark Shapiro, will run this Sunday not only wearing a hostage T-shirt but also wrapping himself in the Israeli flag. Running the marathon has been a dream for him since he moved to New York three years ago, he said, and despite contending with a stress fracture, he felt the attack and the war between Israel and Hamas has made him more committed than ever to complete the race’s grueling course.
“It was a really challenging month — I feel like I literally have nothing left to lean on,” he told the New York Jewish Week. “But somehow I just keep going because I’m full of hope for a better future and for peace.”
He added, “It’s such a big day — the whole city is shut down and everyone is celebrating. It’s a great opportunity to stand out and to show what I believe in. On top of celebrating my first marathon ever, I’ll also be celebrating the fact that I’m a proud Israeli.”
A crowd of supporters will gather on Sunday at Columbus Circle, near the finish line, where they’ll hear remarks from the brother of Yarden Roman-Gat, a 35-year-old mother who was kidnapped from Kibbutz Be’eri on Oct. 7, according to the Times of Israel. Her husband, Alon Gat, and their 3-year-old daughter, Geffen, escaped.
“Time is running out,” Granot-Lubaton said. “It’s almost a month now that they’re over there and we need to save them.”
The post New York City Marathon runners to wear T-shirts with pictures of hostages held by Hamas appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Under fire, Harvard and UPenn presidents condemn calling for genocide of Jews
Penn’s president, Liz Magill, promised to launch a process to clarify and evaluate the school’s policies regarding speech on campus. She said calls for genocide of Jews are “evil, plain and simple.”
The statements by Magill and Harvard President Claudine Gay follow a congressional hearing on Tuesday in which Rep. Elise Stefanik, a Republican from New York, asked them whether calling for the genocide of Jews would constitute harassment under their school’s code of conduct. Gay and Magill, along with Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Sally Kornbluth, all responded under oath that the answer depends on “context.”
In a statement Wednesday, Gay said students would face consequences if they called for genocide.
“There are some who have confused a right to free expression with the idea that Harvard will condone calls for violence against Jewish students,” Gay said. “Let me be clear: Calls for violence or genocide against the Jewish community, or any religious or ethnic group are vile, they have no place at Harvard, and those who threaten our Jewish students will be held to account.”
Video of the exchange at the congressional hearing has gone viral and has prompted criticism of the three leaders from Jewish groups, students, donors and elected officials, including the Biden administration. White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement that calls for the genocide of Jews are “dangerous and revolting.”
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, “Opposing calls for genocide against Jews shouldn’t be difficult or controversial.”
Kornbluth, who is Jewish, does not appear to have publicly addressed the exchange.
Magill has taken flak for her statement from the board chair of Penn’s business school as well as Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, who called on the university’s board to discuss her remarks and come to a “serious decision.” As governor, Shapiro is a non-voting trustee of the university, which is private.
Following Shapiro’s remarks, Magill released a video statement in which she said that she had answered Stefanik’s question based on the broad free speech protections laid out by the U.S. Constitution. She said, however, that she should have answered differently and, invoking the long history of antisemitism, said that she personally viewed a call for the genocide of Jews as “harassment or intimidation.”
She stopped short of saying such a call would violate university policy, but said that Penn’s leadership would begin a process to conduct “a serious and careful look at our policies.”
“I was not focused on, but I should have been, the irrefutable fact that a call for genocide of Jewish people is a call for some of the most terrible violence human beings can perpetrate,” she said. “It’s evil, plain and simple. I want to be clear: A call for genocide of Jewish people is threatening, deeply so. It is intentionally meant to terrify a people who have been subjected to pogroms and hatred for centuries and were the victims of mass genocide in the Holocaust.”
She concluded, “As president I’m committed to a safe, secure and supportive environment so all members of our community can thrive. We can and we will get this right.”
The post Under fire, Harvard and UPenn presidents condemn calling for genocide of Jews appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Young voters, Democrats in New York City disapprove of Israel’s war effort in Gaza, poll finds
(New York Jewish Week) — A majority of young people and self-identified Democrats in New York City disapprove of Israel’s response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, according to a poll released on Wednesday, which also found that New Yorkers view antisemitic prejudice in the city as a serious problem.
A majority of Democrats, 55%, disapprove of Israel’s handling of the war, while 28% approve. Among respondents aged 18-34, 56% disapprove of Israel’s conduct while 24% approve, according to the poll from Quinniapac University. Republicans were more supportive, with 73% approving of Israel’s war effort.
Only 37% of New Yorkers overall approved of Israel’s war against Hamas, while 45% disapproved. The remainder did not have an opinion.
The survey queried 1,297 self-identified registered voters in New York City between Nov. 30 and Dec. 4. It had a margin of error of 2.7%.
Views of the conflict were also split along racial lines, with 55% of white New Yorkers approving of Israel, while 59% of Black respondents, 44% of Hispanic respondents and 62% of Asians disapproved. Among Jews, 72% approved of Israel’s response.
Respondents were also divided regarding sending more military aid to Israel, with 45% in support and 46% opposed. Eighty-one percent of Jews were in favor of further aid to Israel.
The survey found that 72% of New Yorkers are concerned about prejudice against Jews, with 43% calling it a “very serious problem.” Close to a quarter said antisemitism was not so serious, and eight percent said it was not an issue at all.
Among Jews, 90% viewed antisemitism as a concern, with 63% seeing the prejudice as very serious, and 27% as somewhat serious. Eight percent rated it as not so serious.
Data from the New York Police Department and Jewish security groups has indicated a surge in antisemitic hate crimes since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, with 62 anti-Jewish incidents reported to police last month.
A majority of New Yorkers — 63% — also said that anti-Muslim prejudice was a problem, including 53% of Jews (the survey did not include data for Muslims as a separate category). There are consistently fewer hate crimes against Muslims than against Jews in New York City, according to NYPD data, although there has also been an uptick in Islamophobic incidents since the outbreak of the war.
The poll found that New Yorkers broadly disapproved of New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who had a 28% job approval rating. The figure represented the lowest job approval rating for a New York City mayor since Quinnipiac began polling the city’s voters in 1996. Most other New York City officials received similarly low ratings.
The poll showed that voters disapprove of Adams’ handling of a range of issues, from crime to the arrival of migrants to homelessness, and also do not find him trustworthy or a strong leader. The poll did not ask voters’ opinion of Adams’ vocal support for Israel during the war.
Affordable housing and crime were ranked as the most urgent issues facing the city.
The post Young voters, Democrats in New York City disapprove of Israel’s war effort in Gaza, poll finds appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Harvard University President Condemns Genocide Against Jews After Backlash for Equivocating on Issue
Harvard University president Claudine Gay on Wednesday issued a statement walking back and clarifying remarks she made the prior day in which she suggested that calling for the genocide of Jews did not necessarily constitute bullying and harassment on campus.
“There are some who have confused a right to free expression with the idea that Harvard will condone calls for violence against Jewish students,” Gay said in a statement posted to X/Twitter by Harvard. “Let me be clear: Calls for violence or genocide against the Jewish community, or any religious or ethnic group are vile, they have no place at Harvard, and those who threaten our Jewish students will be held to account.”
Gay’s statement came after she received a wave of criticism for her testimony before the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce regarding campus antisemitism, which has been surging since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel. For three hours, Gay and the presidents of the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts of Institute of Technology evaded questions about their plans to combat an alarming spike in antisemitic incidents, including demonstrations calling for Israel’s destruction and the intimidation and harassment of Jewish students at college campuses across the US.
In one tense exchange during the hearing, all three presidents gave indirect answers when asked by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), a Harvard alumnus, whether calling for the genocide of Jews constituted bullying and harassment. Stefanik referenced the chanting of slogans such as “globalize the intifada,” “there is only one solution, intifada revolution,” and “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”— all widely interpreted as calls for violence against Jews and the destruction of Israel.
“We embrace a commitment to free expression even of views that are objectionable, offensive, hateful — it’s when that speech crosses into conduct that violates our policies against bullying, harassment, and intimidation,” Gay said, refusing to provide a definitive answer.
“Does that speech not cross that barrier? Does that speech not call for the genocide of Jews and the elimination of Israel?” Stefanik asked, visibly disturbed by Gay’s answer.
“We embrace a commitment to free expression and give a wide berth to free expression even of views that are objectionable, outrageous, and offensive,” Gay responded. She also said that calls implying the genocide of Jews and Israelis “can be [considered bullying or harassment] depending on the context.”
Gay’s equivocating sparked outrage across social media, with Jewish leaders and non-Jewish allies calling for her to resign from her position.
“You refused to state that calling for the genocide of the Jewish people would violate Harvard policies,” Harvard Law School alumnus Ben Badejo wrote in a letter to Gay that was posted on X. “In so doing, you betrayed the most fundamental values of our country and of all decent people.”
StopAntisemitism, a watchdog that documents antisemitic incidents across the world, said Gay’s more recent statement from Wednesday should have been stated during her testimony to Congress.
“Then why didn’t you say this during your congressional hearing yesterday!?” the group said. “Step down. You are a failure.”
Arsen Ostrovsky, CEO of the International Legal Forum, added, “Why was Claudine Gay unable to say this at the hearing and it took universal outrage and condemnation for you to issue this clarification?”
Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre, Gay’s tenure has been beset by accusations that she is not sympathetic to the Jewish community’s concerns about rising antisemitism and has provided refuge to Harvard students who cheered Hamas’ violence.
For several days, Gay waited to condemn the Hamas atrocities, and when she did, her statement said nothing about antisemitism. When 31 Harvard student groups, led by the Palestine Solidarity Committee, issued a statement blaming Israel for Hamas’ brutality, Gay defended their right to free speech and said they should not be punished or barred from being hired at prestigious businesses and firms after completing their education.
Following weeks of criticism, Gay eventually denounced Harvard students’ chanting of “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” last month and announced a campus initiative for fighting antisemitism.
“Harvard was founded to advance human dignity through education,” Gay said. “We inherited a faith in reason to overcome ignorance, in truth to surmount hate. Antisemitism is destructive to our mission. We will not solve every disagreement, bridge every divide, heal every wound. But if we shrink from this struggle, we betray our ideals.”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
The post Harvard University President Condemns Genocide Against Jews After Backlash for Equivocating on Issue first appeared on Algemeiner.com.