Pfizer's Bourla slams American university chiefs for stand on antisemitism

A son of Holocaust survivors, the pharmaceutical executive calls testimonies of the presidents of Harvard, MIT and Penn shameful and 'the most despicable moments in the history of U.S. academia'

Pfizer chief Albert Bourla on Wednesday, issued a strong condemnation of the congressional testimony of the presidents of three leading American universities on their response to the expressions of antisemitism on their campuses.
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Harvard President Claudine Gay, MIT President Sally Kornbluth and Penn State University President Liz Magill, testified for five hours before the Committee on Education & the Workforce hearing on “Holding Campus Leaders Accountable and Confronting Antisemitism,” about the actions they take against students involved in antisemitic activities, how the recruitment procedures of the institutions ensure diverse perspectives among the faculty, and how they ensure safety on campus.
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מנכ"ל פייזר אלברט בורלא נשיאת הרווארד קלודין גיי
מנכ"ל פייזר אלברט בורלא נשיאת הרווארד קלודין גיי
Claudine Gay, Albert Bourla
(Photo: Will Oliver / EPA, AP )
In their testimonies the women struggled to say decisively whether “calling for the genocide of Jews” is bullying and harassment according to their school's codes of conduct and insisted it would depend on the context.
In a post on X, Bourla said he was ashamed to hear their responses. "In my personal opinion, it was one of the most despicable moments in the history of U.S. academia," he said.
"The memories of my father’s parents, Abraham and Rachel Bourla, his brother David and his little sister Graciela, who all died in Auschwitz, came to mind. I was wondering if their deaths would have provided enough “context” to these presidents to condemn the Nazis' antisemitic propaganda.
And because dehumanization of the victims makes it easier to “set your own context” and justify anything, here is a picture of Graciela Bourla, who was exterminated in the concentration camp at the age of 17. Unfortunately, no pictures of my grandparents and uncle survived. I still wonder what they looked like.
Bourla responded to Kornbluth 's testimony who claimed calling for the genocide of Jews violates her university's code of conduct only if it is directed at individuals and not as a general public call, as she refused to give a "yes" or "no" answer, adding a claim that she had not hear a call for murder.
Gay responded that "this kind of language is thoughtless, reckless, and hateful," but then added, "It is at odds with the values of Harvard, but we embrace a commitment to free expression even of views that are objectionable, offensive and hateful.”
On Wednesday, she posted a statement she hoped would "clarify" her testimony.
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קלודין גיי, נשיאת הרווארד במהלך השימוע
קלודין גיי, נשיאת הרווארד במהלך השימוע
Claudine Gay
(Photo: Will Oliver \ EPA )
"There are some who have confused a right to free expression with the idea that Harvard will condone calls for violence against Jewish students. 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," she said in a post.
Meanwhile two students at the University of Pennsylvania said they would be suing the university claiming the its campus has become a dangerous place for Jews. In their filing the students said UPenn selectively enforces its laws to avoid protecting Jewish students, hires blatant antisemites to its faculty, who call for anti-Jewish violence and spread terrorist propaganda, and ignores the pleas of Jewish students for protection, placing them in serious emotional and physical peril.
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