General Question

elbanditoroso's avatar

Are there conclusions to be drawn about the leadership of America's top universities?

Asked by elbanditoroso (33277points) December 9th, 2023

Earlier this week, college presidents from Harvard, MIT, and U Penn were invited to testify to Congress about antisemitism on their campuses.

None of them would make an unequivocal statement that calling for genocide against Jews is wrong. Each of them spinelessly tried to say “it depends on context” – none of them would make a solid statement.

Note that all three of the university presidents are female:

—- U Penn- Liz Magill (who resigned Saturday afternoon)
—- Harvard- Claudette Gay
—- MIT – Sally Kornbluth

Here are my questions:

Did their gender have a role in their inability to make a solid statement against antisemitism and genocide? *

Would male college presidents made more forceful statements?

*I ask this because there is plenty of research literature that says that women are better problem solvers because they want to please all parties in an argument.

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92 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

We are at a point in time where any criticism of Israel’s actions is labelled antisemitism, and where advocating for a palaestinian state is equated to calling for a jewish genocide.
Nuance and context are not allowed on that topic.
If anything they should be applauded for not giving in to cancel culture.

JLeslie's avatar

It was scary and disappointing. They obviously were not coached well on what questions might be asked.

Schools have come under criticism since I can remember for having controversial speakers, and universities usually push back that all points of view should be heard and discussed and universities are the very place for civil discourse, but the direct question regarding is calling for genocide of Jews ok and not answering with a flat out “it’s not ok” is reprehensible.

Maybe they were overthinking? Like some people are interpreting “from the river to the sea” as a call for genocide, but it does not have to mean that. It’s worth mentioning that there have been outright explicit threats and calls for killing all Jews.

I would say they three are like so many seeing the Jews as white and powerful and not at risk like other minorities, but Kornbluth is Jewish! WTH?! These people in academia need to be reminded that generational trauma studies were first done on and for Jewish people because of the trauma our group has gone through. SMH. If someone marched with sign on campus “send them back to Africa” would the school administration tolerate that?

It’s come to light that at least half the students marching in the protests pro-Palestinians “from the river to the sea” and wanting “Palestinians to be free” have no idea what they are really marching for or what any of it means. They would fail the test.

Also, worth noting that some or maybe all three colleges get multi-millions in donation money from Saudi Arabia, possibly other Arab countries. Wouldn’t want ton upset those donors.

Lastly, if you saw some of what is being taught in some of the university programs it is ridiculous. I hate to say the Republicans make some points worth looking into, but it is the case. I would point out most Democrats would be bothered too, it’s just most Democrats don’t want to listen. My dad has a PhD in Sociology and he came across the list of terms given to sociology students at Columbia. Look at Capitalism, he pointed out some others I don’t remember.

JLeslie's avatar

Oh, to answer the questions, I have no idea if gender mattered. Usually, I have an opinion about that. I’ve seen interviews with former university presidents and current ones who were men and and some said the women answered correctly and some said they didn’t.

I think eventually we might learn what was really in their heads and influencing them.

kritiper's avatar

That is a matter of opinion.

gorillapaws's avatar

My assessment is that people were falsely equating the “river to the sea” chant as calling for the genocide of Jews and then using it as a cudgel to claim anti-semitism. They’re saying “it depends” because it depends on the intention of the speaker an not on the person hearing chant’s interpretation. This is about cancel culture and the pro-Israel lobby trying to direct the narrative and silence people from substantive criticism of Israeli policy and not about the Jewish faith or ethnicity. Israel is behaving like a terrorist state, flagrantly violating international law and committing war crimes with impunity.

It’s not about gender.

Caravanfan's avatar

I disagree completely with @gorillapaws in more or less everything he wrote, but we’ve debated about it before and I don’t have the energy to relitigate it.

Except I do agree it’s not about gender.

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws You have that backwards.

When white Southerners say the confederate flag is about Southern pride and not lynchings should Black people stop complaining about that flag?

When Washington football fans say they have no bad intensions with the mascot Redskins, and that they love their football team and have no negative feelings about native Americans, should Native Americans be told their feelings don’t matter?

People don’t seem to understand that Jewish people live with a certain level of fear and we have microaggressions that happen ongoing. Also, we have real instances of violence happening at minimum to the group if not to ourselves or someone we know, People seem to not give a shit or just not be aware.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Having just read about Liz Magill before ending up I here and the question she was asked and answered is not the question that the media are making out she answered. She was not asked, as the OP suggests, to make a make a solid statement against antisemitism and genocide.
She was asked whether calls for genocide against Jews would violate UPenn’s code of conduct. Those are 2 very different questions, one is a moral question, and one is a legal question and mistaking the two, whether intentionally or otherwise is likely to cause more harm than good.

gorillapaws's avatar

@JLeslie “When white Southerners say the confederate flag is about Southern pride and not lynchings should Black people stop complaining about that flag?”

They have EVERY RIGHT to complain about the flag. However, if a student has the Confederate flag on their vehicle or on a shirt, for example, you can’t assume they mean they want to enslave the black race and then expelled them for it.

Jewish people have every right to voice their objections to whatever they want to. Just as people have their right to express their desires for a single, secular state in the region with Arabs, Jews, Christians, etc. living as complete equals which is the sentiment being expressed on campuses by the “from the river to the sea” chant. Remember that the Likud party has the identical language:

“The right of the Jewish people to the land of Israel is eternal and indisputable… therefore, Judea and Samaria will not be handed to any foreign administration; between the Sea and the Jordan there will only be Israeli sovereignty.” —Likud Party Platform, 1977

One could equally interpret the Israeli flag as expressing this intention to genocide all non-Jews in the occupied territories and therefore ban the Israeli flag on campuses using the same logic.

I agree with the leaders of the universities that this issue is context-dependent. Someone saying “kill all Jews” or “I love Hitler” ought to be expelled from campus. Period. Someone terrorizing their Jewish classmates should be arrested and expelled. People expressing their criticism of Israeli policy in a manner you disagree with should be met with letters to the editor, counter-protests, and fighting the war of ideas on paper, social media and the press.

I would never use the phrase myself. I recognize that it’s hurtful. I disagree with it, but I also recognize the intention behind it’s widespread use is not calling for the genocide of Jewish people in the state of Israel.

flutherother's avatar

The leaders of America’s top universities shouldn’t be put under political pressure to make any sort of statement and I don’t think they should be called spineless for resisting.

LostInParadise's avatar

They should have been given a followup question to give an example where calling for Jewish genocide would be acceptable.

seawulf575's avatar

I think the problem these university presidents have is not with anything said during a protest on campus. It is that they would not or could not actually state whether calling for genocide of Jews violated their school’s policy of harassment and bullying. It was a straight-forward question. Neither UPenn, MIT, or Harvard’s president gave an actual answer to that question. They tried sliding around it. One said “It can be, depending on the context”. Another said “I have not heard of anyone calling for the genocide of Jews on our campus”. The last one said “If the speech turns into content, it can be harassment”.

Those answers show either they have no idea what their harassment/bullying policies say, or they are so afraid of making a stand in public that it is ridiculous. Example: Here is what MIT’s policy 9.5 Harassment uses as a definition for what is considered harassment:

“Harassment is defined as unwelcome conduct of a verbal, nonverbal or physical nature that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a work or academic environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile or abusive and that adversely affects an individual’s educational, work, or living environment.”

I would think someone calling for the genocide of Jews would fit readily into that definition. (It should be noted that Kornbluth, the MIT president made the response that she had not heard of anyone calling for genocide of Jews on campus). So to avoid actually saying “Yes, that would violate the harassment policy” indicates they either don’t know the policy, they don’t want to say it would, or the policy is applied so poorly and unequally on campus that they don’t want to start setting absolutes.

Can the conclusion be drawn that this is due solely to their gender? No…not enough information to make that conclusion at this point. If you put 20 university presidents on that panel, asked them all the same question and all women answered as these did and all men gave direct answers I’d say you start to have indications that gender might be playing a role. But I suspect, given the leanings of universities today, that you would actually get 20 answers all along the same dodging version.

It would be interesting to see how they would answer if the question was “Would calling for the genocide of all transgender people be a violation of your Harassment/Bullying policy?” Move the focus of the genocide from Jews to Trans people and I’d be willing to be they would have been appalled and would have given much more definitive answers.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

I don’t see any profound conclusions to be drawn, nor do I think gender has anything to do with this other than women score higher on agreeableness, which is not problem-solving nor does it lead to better problem-solving. It’s possible that male leaders were more prone to refuse to testify but they would have likely answered in the same lawyerspeak if they did. It’s a tinderbox and inflaming either side could set it off even more regardless if one side is clearly in the wrong.

Demosthenes's avatar

Perhaps they saw through such a nakedly disingenuous line of questioning.

If you’re asking someone if they think genocide is bad, you’re ultimately asking them something else.

Any “but do you condemn” questioning is not really a desire for knowledge, but a test to discover to what extent you are willing to play the questioner’s game.

SnipSnip's avatar

These university office holders are owned. The statement about context said it all. There is no context where calling for genocide against Jews is right.

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws Of course the confederate flag does not necessarily mean the person flying it is racist. That’s my point. Many white Southerners feel that flag is about Southern heritage that they are proud of, they love their culture, and that can be completely void of racism and love being Southerners. The thing is when I, or a Black person, see that flag, we don’t know if that person wants to kill us. We are not being paranoid. There are enough hateful, violent, people, who use that flag as a symbol of their white supremacy that it’s a legitimate fear.

When Biden said Obama was articulate I personally don’t believe it was a racist comment at all, but I understand why Black people hear it that way now that it was explained to me, so I edit myself from using that kind of compliment towards Black people.

We have to believe the minority. The problem is a lot people don’t seem to believe Jewish people are a minority. People don’t want to believe how scary these things are to us. It’s nice to know not everyone saying terrorizing things don’t really want to terrorize us, but they need to listen and edit their speech if their intention is not being understood by masses of people who are very negatively affected. In my opinion it changes society for the worse to have so many people afraid all of the time.

The left should be calling for the signs and chants supporting Palestinians be changed so it is not terrorizing Jewish people and especially Jewish students. You have students supporting from the river to the sea and they don’t know that means to eliminate Israel. You have students chanting free Palestinians and they have no idea that living in Israel gay Palestinians are protected and under Palestinian rule they would have to hide. Is that free? What exactly is free to these young men and women on our campuses? To be under a Palestinian government? They basically are under a Palestinian government in Gaza and the West Bank. I’m not asking to go on a tangent about a two state solution or settlements, I’m just saying many students protesting for the Palestinians don’t really know the situation.

JLeslie's avatar

@Demosthenes Nice to see you! I only saw clips of the testimony, but certainly these well educated middle aged adults could have answered in full sentences to clarify. When I gave a deposition the opposing lawyer kept trying to corner me into yes or no answers using HIS wording, and more than once I answered, “I would say xxxx,” to answer the FULL TRUTH to the spirit of the Q and resisted answering his manipulative questions.

Demosthenes's avatar

@JLeslie The problem is that I don’t believe that “masses of people” don’t understand that students calling for a free Palestine are not demanding that all Jews be killed. Supporting Israel is not “cool” on college campuses right now and students who do support Israel have lost cultural cachet. But you can’t legislate that back into existence.

I don’t know any genocidal Palestine supporters; do you?

If “free Palestine” terrorizes you, the issue may be with you, not with the phrase. Protests are supposed to be disruptive; they are supposed to make you uncomfortable.

It is nice to be back. And part of the reason I wanted to come back was to discuss this very issue.

Zaku's avatar

“It is that they would not or could not actually state whether calling for genocide of Jews violated their school’s policy of harassment and bullying. It was a straight-forward question.”
– Doesn’t sound like that at all, to me.
– Given the current state of Republicans in the US legislature, I fully expect this to be a publicity stunt attempting to entrap college presidents in a “gotcha”.

janbb's avatar

@Zaku And it worked. The UPenn President has resigned.

Caravanfan's avatar

@Zaku I agree with you on the “gotcha” question. And considering that it was asked by Elise Stafanik who has remade herself into a Trumpublican it makes sense. I’m 100% certain none of the college presidents actually support genocide (Palestinian or Jewish) but they were all very poorly coached and prepared for the questions.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I am troubled by the event, and I’m baffled by this question as asked. I don’t understand why one would take such an event and then want to ask about gender and their relation to controversy.

I am certain of 2 points:
1 – the confederate flag is always racist, and
2 – stating “from the river to the sea” is always a call to genocide whether that is fully understood by the speaker or not.

Zaku's avatar

Yeah, against my better judgement about my use of my own time and energy on right-wing bait, I watched the first half of the video at the link @LostInParadise posted above and it was just as I suspected. College presidents having shown up to a bait/attack session, responding intelligently and carefully, and absolutely not failing to say that calling for genocide was wrong.

It’s just that rabid right-wing fools (and somehow, evidently, @elbanditoroso in the OP) either willfully, or through failing to understand what the presidents were saying, mis-interpret what they said.


Lightlyseared's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake the current ruling party of Israel included the phrase from the river to the sea in their manifesto. Are you suggesting that was a call for genocide?

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

^I am pro Israeli people and anti Netanyahu. I am pro Palestinian people and anti Hamas.

Is it possible for the current government of Israel to preach genocide? Yes. Are they? I don’t know.

smudges's avatar

@Demosthenes I’m glad you’re back. I noticed that you had left. :)

JLeslie's avatar

@Demosthenes I want the Palestinians to feel and be free. It’s just the sentiment to “Free Palestine” generally means get rid of Israel. Have you ever watched interviews with Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, even Israel? The vast majority don’t want a two-state solution, they want the Jews to go back to where they came from (Europe according to them) and if there are some Jews who were always living in Palestine they can stay and live in peace in Palestine like they did before. That’s their words, not mine. I can link some informal interviews on the street if you are interested.

Irukandji's avatar

@elbanditoroso “None of them would make an unequivocal statement that calling for genocide against Jews is wrong.”

They were not asked if calling for genocide against Jews is wrong. They were asked if it was a violation of the policies or codes of conduct of their respective universities (interestingly, @seawulf575 got this right while you did not). Speech and conduct policies on university campuses typically give students a lot of leeway on what they can say and do. And many of those policies have been weakened over the past decade in response to pressures from both the right and the left accusing them of nevertheless promoting censorship.

This leaves university presidents in the unenviable position of being dragged before Congress at a time when their polices are as wishy washy as they’ve ever been, which means it’s probably true that whether or not a particular call for genocide counts as a violation of those policies depends on the context. Someone saying it in their dorm room to another person of the same persuasion probably wouldn’t count, while bursting into a meeting of Jewish students and shouting at them would almost certainly count. And then there’s all the in between cases.

The policies are designed, for better and for worse, to allow for individual treatment of each case. This is good insofar as it means the policies are flexible in the face of nuance. And it’s bad insofar as it means the policies are able to be bent in response to political pressures. Better policies would include more bright lines while still allowing for gray areas. But designing them will take a lot of work, and there will be a lot of missteps and learning from mistakes along the way—which means it’s a risk that the current political environment strongly incentivizes universities not to take.

And your attempt to bring gender into the debate seems specious, at best.

@Hawaii_Jake “I am certain of 2 points:
1 – the confederate flag is always racist, and
2 – stating “from the river to the sea” is always a call to genocide whether that is fully understood by the speaker or not.”

But surely there’s more to it than this. If a white supremacist puts a Confederate flag on his first grader’s backpack, the symbol itself can still be racist without the child being racist. Right? Similarly, think about someone who joins a march in support of Palestine. The organizers hand out a sheet of protest chants, and this person joins in not knowing that at least one of them—“from the river to the sea”—is anti-Semitic. The chant itself can still be a call for genocide without us having to say that this particular protestor is calling for genocide. Right?

None of this contradicts what you’ve said, but it’s a nuance that we need to keep in mind when judging the situation. The first grader is completely innocent. It’s the child’s father who is saying something by applying that patch to the backpack (though he is also trying to rope his child into it, which is despicable). The protestor has certainly acted irresponsibly, and that is on them. They are not quite as innocent as the child. But they also can’t be said to have personally called for genocide. The organizers have tried to rope them into it (assuming they aren’t equally ignorant), and they have fallen for the trick. Their act is anti-Semitic, but they themselves might not be.

JLeslie's avatar

It seems like they might have been coached to only answer the specific questions and not elaborate. That to me was a mistake.

Did any jellies watch the entire hearing? I really want to now.

I agree with jellies above there were purposeful gotcha Q’s.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Irukandji Those are interesting notions to play with.

This is personal.

I’m gay. I grew up in a grotesquely homophobic place. I was bullied badly. Am I supposed to distinguish between the action and the perpetrators when hate is being directed at me?

In the end, my parents disowned me because I’m gay. How am I supposed to weigh that?

Bigotry is hate.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I fear I’ve strayed from the question.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

This is a hard subject for me. I realize I’m seeing it in black and white when the situation is far more nuanced. I’ll sit back and read now. Thanks.

jca2's avatar

My question is, if one resigned, should the other two resign too? Is what’s good for one good for all?

janbb's avatar

@jca2 I don’t see why.

Caravanfan's avatar

@jca2 I don’t think any of them should have resigned. They got bad advice and were ambushed by gotcha questions by Scott and Stafinik that were fodder for twitter clips for their right wing asshole buddies who will enjoy taking down the presidents of the “establishment elite” universities for their own political gain. The presidents fucked up, but they should have resigned. Penn’s president got forced out because donors pulled funding.

kritiper's avatar

Is there a clear answer?
In my opinion, a “no” would have been a lie and a “yes” would have been an obvious exaggeration. The most precise and honest answer would have been the ones they gave.
Or give no answer at all.
I doubt anyone could have answered the congresswoman’s question in a manner satisfactory to all, much less herself, who had obviously already made up her mind as to what the answer should have been.
Should any resign?
Not in my opinion.

gorillapaws's avatar

@JLeslie So is flying the Israeli flag something that could be construed by Palestinian Americans as hateful or terror or harassment of the Palestinian or Arab students on campus? Would you support banning the Israeli flag on campuses?

I’m generally very pro-speech and that necessitates supporting people’s rights to say things I disagree with or have outright contempt for. This stunt is designed to do 2 things:

1. To distract from the thousands of innocent Palestinians being slaughtered as we speak.
2. To create a chilling effect on criticism of Israeli policies on college campuses.

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws I just performed at a Chanukah celebration and I was really pissed off they handed out Israeli flags.

I was told three weeks ago they might hand them out, and I flatly said I might not perform if they do, I told them I think it is a terrible idea. I didn’t want the fun celebration to turn into a protest. I didn’t want to risk journalists spinning it into a protest. I didn’t want to risk people showing up with Palestinian flags at the next performance. I didn’t want to risk my life anymore than I felt I already was just to do a dance.

A day later I was told they decided not to hand them out.

What happens when I arrive today? They are handing them out. I was VERY unhappy about it. Thank goodness people weren’t waving them around, they seemed to be happy with their free flag on their lap.

I’m not banning anything. I never said to ban anything. Edit: I guess you mean prohibiting signs from the river to the sea on campuses? I’m saying every student needs to know what that literally means and what it means to Jewish people. Put them through an hour class.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I have a hard time with the concept of the college presidents walking into an ambush.

They are each leaders of large corporations. (Yes, these are colleges and universities, but they have budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars and endowments in the billions.) They have boards of directors and many constituent groups they need do deal with. They are political people. Being the president of a university is a political position. Therefore they should have been aware of the political effects of what they said.


The college presidents were prepped by lawyers the day before the congressional testimony. They each consulted with law firms (two of them used the SAME law firm – Wilmer and Hale) – to prepare for the testimony.

Not only were they NOT ambushed, they were specifically rehearsing what they would say.

Third and most important:

Ambushed or not – did they not think of the downstream results of what they were saying?

These three college presidents should have been much smarter in their remarks and the fact that they were so politically obtuse tells me that they’re not qualified to be leaders in their colleges.

They screwed it up all by themselves.

JLeslie's avatar

We had extra police in uniform this year for the Chanukah celebration. During the introduction for the event the host for the event included a “thank you to the Wildwood police for being here to ensure our safety today.” So anyone attending knew there was police presence. They have never before actually said it to the crowd. Usually, there might be one cop, this year we had three in uniform. Possibly, there were more out of uniform on their day off.

Demosthenes's avatar

@JLeslie I don’t deny there are Palestinians who see no solution to their situation other than Jewish Israelis leaving Israel. That is not a “solution” I support but it is also not a reason to oppose the liberation of Palestinian and the continuation of the destruction of Gaza and the Israeli settlement of the West Bank. And to your previous comment on how free a Palestinian society would be, that is inconsequential. Israel is certainly no free society for Arab Israeli citizens or Palestinians who work in Israel, let alone those in the West Bank and Gaza.

I’ve come across this argument before (not saying you said this) of “you’re gay; you do know Muslims hate gays, right?”, as if that isn’t supremely disingenuous and is supposed to convince me of anything. My support for oppressed peoples is not contingent on them having the correct opinions on social issues. Let’s stop the killing and the ousting of people from their homes and then we can talk about social policy.

@elbanditoroso I don’t think they were ambushed, but I think @Irukandji is correct that they answered the questions honestly, in accordance with the mealy-mouthed nature of the policies themselves. But the purpose of the inquiry was not to understand or dissect university policies; it was to elicit a specific political reaction. The underlying questions being asked here are ultimately “should pro-Palestinian student groups be banned from campuses?”, “should ‘from the river to the sea’ be classified as hate speech?’” Especially in the context of universities, who have shut down conservative speakers and overreacted to plenty of other forms of student speech, this is intentional on the part of those who simply want the criticism of Israel on college campuses to stop. The establishment can’t reckon with the fact that support for Israel is vanishingly low among young people. The PR war is being lost.

Zaku's avatar

@elbanditoroso I watched 5 minutes of it, and I agree about them seeming prepared enough to answer the question, if the audience were someone like me, who will listed to what they’re saying, and hear that they are explaining that their universities don’t have a policy of prohibiting free speech even if that speech is hateful. That seems reasonable and correct to me for any university in America, where there is a right to free speech. It wouldn’t be a university’s job to try to stop people from saying even such a thing.

But that’s not the same thing as ”[not saying] that calling for genocide against Jews is wrong.” I didn’t see that, but I didn’t watch the whole thing. Is there a particular part you can point us to that you think is well-described by that?

seawulf575's avatar

I’m struggling with the concept this was a “gotcha” question. If I ask you if calling for genocide against Jews is against your school’s policy, it is a very black and white question. Had one of the individuals stated that yes, that would be against the school policy, it would have been a very easy answer. It would have been even more clarifying if the answer included a statement that you were not aware of anyone calling for that on campus.

The only “gotcha” in the question is in the minds of the answerers. It is the political conflict that makes it odd. It is the idea that their policies are so wishy-washy, so malleable that makes it so.

Forever_Free's avatar

Please add all the questions and set the context up correctly. Also do not turn this into a gender issue.

They were setup by Elise Stefanik line of questioning as does this question if you are not informed of it all..
Each tried to take the road of respecting free speech and understanding.
They admitted they got caught up in the trapped line of questioning.

JLeslie's avatar

@Demonthesis I was really talking about American college students. The ones who are protesting river to sea and free Palestine. That they have no tolerance for unfairness or cruelty towards LGBT or Black people (it exists in the US too, it’s not like the US is perfect) but do they understand what it is like in the Middle East. What Arab governments are like regarding Abortion, alcohol, etc. I don’t think you personally are being idealistic or unrealistic, but I do think a lot of those college students are.

I think it is ok to judge a society. I judge the imperfections in my own as well as in others.

Again about the protesting students, that many of them have no understanding that it will eliminate Israel. River to Sea means no Israel. Half of the college protesters surveyed didn’t know that.

Caravanfan's avatar

@Caravanfan typo in my answer above. I wrote “The presidents fucked up, but they should have resigned.” I meant “shouldn’t have”

jca2's avatar

There will be a meeting today at Harvard about their President.

Demosthenes's avatar

Half of the college protesters surveyed didn’t know that.

I’d be interested to see that survey, but I also don’t want to give too much credit to college students. They are in a process of figuring out what they believe, and I’m sure many of them are using the phrase because it is catchy and in vogue and are not thinking about what it means. However, most people I’ve encountered are well aware of what it means. It means no Jewish ethno-state. It means a new state that does not have an apartheid-like system where some people are a permanent underclass. It does not mean genocide of all Jews, but it does mean that the current state of Israel, in which Palestinians are not free, is untenable, and that all Palestinians, regardless of where they live will be free under a new state.

In either case, these college presidents are being fired because these universities need wealthy donors, most of whom support Israel and will withhold their contributions if the university is seen as not sufficiently punitive toward students who oppose Israel. The language of “genocide” (which, if any students actually are calling for that, are a minority of a minority—and one could make a similar argument about pro-Israel statements given how many Palestinians have been killed over the years and are being killed in this conflict) is sensationalistic and not representative of the actual debate over campus speech that is occurring.

JLeslie's avatar

@Demosthenes I don’t have time right now to answer you in full, but for now I want to counter your comment about the money. BILLIONS of dollars are going to top US universities from Saudi donors.

gorillapaws's avatar

Donations shouldn’t have any influence on policy or actions an organization takes, otherwise it’s no longer a donation and instead becomes a “fee for service” or a “bribe.” People engaging in such “purchases” shouldn’t be allowed to claim said donations for tax purposes. Interestingly, I’ve heard these same donors were pressuring Schools this past summer to curtail Palestinian events. I can try to find a source later if necessary.

Lightlyseared's avatar

@seawulf575 that’s exactly why it’s a gotcha question. It seems obvious that in a polite society calling for genocide would be against school policy but I strongly suspect that the actual policy doesn’t “explicitly state” that students should not go around calling for genocide because no one thought they ever would in the first place. Add in the US’s love of freedom of speech and if that had been in the policy you’d have another group claiming that it was eroding the students constitutional rights.

seawulf575's avatar

@Lightlyseared There are actually two parts to Stefanik’s questioning. I’m guessing you didn’t know that. In her first 5 minutes, she questioned only the Harvard president. She started by asking if the president knew what the term Intifada meant. She indicated she did. She then pointed out that pro-Hamas protesters had been on campus chanting for intifada against Israel. She asked the clarifying question of whether the president understood that the chanting was for violence and genocide against all Jews. The answer the Harvard professor gave was that she had heard the chants and that those chants were personally abhorrent to her. Stefanik then asked if that type of speech was viewed as acceptable free speech on Harvard. The president again tried to side step with the “personally abhorrent” tactic. Stefanik went back and forth with her over this until her time expired.

Later in the meeting (which was 5 hours long), about 4 hours after her first questions, another representative turned over her time to Stefanik. That is when Stefanik asked the question: On your campus, does the calling for the genocide of Jews violate your Code of Conduct or policy of bullying and harassment? She asked this of all three presidents independently.

This is not like some pop-up surprise question. It is at the root of why they were there. This should not be a surprise nor was it a set up question. It was the ONLY question she asked on this round of questioning.

The scariest part of the whole thing is that the presidents (at least 2 out of 3) stated that if the speech carried over into conduct, it would violate the policy. Think about that. You can talk about committing any and all violence available against a given subsection of our society and they think that is okay. They would have to wait until someone was actually killed before they would feel any need to take action.

As for the policy addressing this specific situation, I can tell you with 100% certainty that it does and it doesn’t, all at the same time. I already cut and pasted from the MIT policy of harassment. It specifically says:

“Harassment is defined as unwelcome conduct of a verbal, nonverbal or physical nature that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a work or academic environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile or abusive and that adversely affects an individual’s educational, work, or living environment.”

Not every given thing that could be stated is going to be listing as your excuse would lead one to expect. But it does state that verbal, nonverbal or physical actions could be considered harassment. By your reasoning, I could say I was going to decapitate every Asian person on a campus and that would not be a threat or harassment because the policy didn’t “explicitly state” that is harassment.

And forgive me if maybe I’m a bit realistic here, but a loud protest of many people calling for violence against all Jews is verbal and likely non-verbal in the form of signs, it is severe in the violence that is being called for and it is pervasive as there are many, many protesters on campus. How can you even try to defend this? The policies are clear. The presidents didn’t want to actually speak out against those that were protesting, nor say it was okay speech. What they wanted was to keep the malleable policies in place so they can use them as a weapon against voices they don’t like and use them as a shield when they don’t take actions against those they do like.

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws I think part of the dollars might also include tuition for Saudi students.

@Demosthenes Here is one article about students not knowing what from the river to the sea means. Mind you, I don’t think it is a big deal that they can’t name the river or the sea, but the rest of the findings I think are pretty important. This is only 250 students, and I acknowledge the understanding might vary a lot around the country.

Here are some videos by Corey Gil-Schuster if you are interested or any other jellies. He is a journalist who asks Palestinians and Israelis on the street their opinions about may different aspects of the situation there. My impressions is he does not edit out answers he might not agree with, he truly wants to understand and learn their opinions and share them with us the audience. Some of the videos are a few years ago, but he has recent ones on his youtube channel too.

From the river to the Sea Palestinian opinion.

Free Palestine

If Israel left Gaza and the West Bank would the Palestinians accept peace?

Would Palestinian Israelis move to a Palestinian state?

Demosthenes's avatar

@seawulf575 An “intifada” is an uprising or a rebellion. That is the literal translation of the word in Arabic. In the past it has referred to nonviolent resistance; it some cases it refers to violent conflict with Israeli control over the West Bank and Gaza. But to simply regard it as synonymous with “genocide” is intellectually dishonest.

These universities have policies against harassment. Harassing a group of Jewish students by shouting “intifada!” at them would violate the policy. Showing support for Palestinian resistance by using the same word in a campus protest would apparently not (but maybe, to some universities). The policies are indeed malleable and not interpreted the same way by everyone who is asked to apply them—hence why numerous pro-Palestinian groups have been banned from college campuses. Speech numerous universities don’t like has been silenced. There are no policies specifically about Israel and Palestine. There are only policies about harassment and conduct. To determine that the use of the word “intifada” is a form of harassment, you would likely have to demonstrate that it is indeed calling for death or targeting specific students. Any type of speech has the potential to make someone uncomfortable, whether it’s Christian, LGBT, pro-Israel, or pro-Palestine. It can’t all be classed as policy-violating harassment. Which is why the cases need to be dealt with individually.

In either case, even if these universities all enacted a policy specifically stating “It is against the rules to call for the genocide of a specific people or ethnic group”, that would not preclude the use of the word “intifada” or the phrase “from the river to the sea” because whether these statements actually call for genocide is extremely debatable.

janbb's avatar

@Demosthenes I agree. There is a McCarthyesque type atmosphere around this issue that precludes rational discussion and consideration of proportionality and nuance. I don’t see either the phrases “intifada” or “From the river to the sea” as calling for worldwide genocide of Jewish people although we have to admit that there has been a rise in antisemitism in America as well as anti-Muslim sentiment since October 7th. Three Palestinian college students were shot in Burlington, VT and a six year old Palestinian was shot in his bed in Chicago. The persecution cuts both ways.

Here is an interesting article from the NYTimes about the evolution of the chant. My personal opinion is that peaceful protests and lectures from both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli students should be allowed on campuses with safety guarantees but that individual threats, hate speech or violent acts should be swiftly punished.

JLeslie's avatar

Wait, I don’t think from the river to the sea calls for the genocide of all Jewish people either. Is that how I came across? It is calling for eliminating Israel. That is not the same as eliminating the Israeli Jewish people or all Jewish people obviously. It still is very aggressive to be holding signs or chanting from the river to the sea.

It is everything that has been happening all put together that is causing increased fear among Jewish students and Jews in general in the US and in Europe.

In the hearing the university presidents were asked about the genocide of Jews, not just some sort of interpretation of these slogans.

Zaku's avatar

@seawulf575 ” If I ask you if calling for genocide against Jews is against your school’s policy, it is a very black and white question.”
– Was that the question?
– Since when is it a US university’s domain to set policy about what people are allowed to say in public?

The “gotcha” part is asking a question, receiving intelligent replies, and then willfully misinterpreting those replies to mean something the respondents did not mean, at all, and running with it to the press and social media and claiming those people said something that they did not mean, for political reasons, and damaging the careers of professionals who should be doing their jobs rather than being used for lowbrow political stunts.

Demosthenes's avatar

@JLeslie But as seawulf pointed out, the questions were asked in the context of student protesters using the word “intifada”. “Genocide” is only being talked about because of these slogans and their interpretations. Again, there is no epidemic of students calling for the genocide of Jews. What is happening is students using these slogans, which some interpret as calling for genocide. That is the entire reason that question was asked in the first place. Why else would university presidents be asked how their policies deal with calls for genocide? The implication is that students are doing so (and I am arguing that they are not).

Zaku's avatar

@Demosthenes You’re right. Of course students are not calling for genocide of Jews.

The layers of stupidity and disinformation on this subject are preposterously thick and deep.

JLeslie's avatar

@Demosthenes Ok, but weren’t the presidents asked about genocide? The presidents should have clarified the point if they didn’t and not let some politician control that conversation. Not that Stefanik is stupid, I think she actually graduated from Harvard, but THREE university presidents couldn’t handle the questioning well. Unbelievable. In other words, the answer could easily have been calling for the genocide is harassment, but river to sea is not calling for genocide.

Zaku's avatar

The part I heard didn’t come across that way to me.

Media editing can and often does completely reframe situations to make it look like exchanges went extremely different from how they actually went. I’ve had that happen to me and that USAF general I was speaking to. He gave a solid intelligent reply, and the media made him look like he was unprepared for my question (which was also severely edited so that it lacked context). No amount of preparation can overcome media editing. The only recourses are to refuse to answer questions at all, or to have the media be on your side, or to feed them some sound bites that they’ll want to use more than what they’d otherwise put in.

How long is the whole unedited recording, if there is one?

JLeslie's avatar

@Zaku It looks like this is the whole thing. I found part of Stefanik starting at 1:29:30. Maybe you can find some more. The whole hearing is annoying and bullshit politics mostly, like most of these sorts of things are. Maybe I will get around to listing to the whole thing eventually.

seawulf575's avatar

@Demosthenes The term Intifada has always been used in reference to extremely violent protests that sought to kill those the Palestinians deem “oppressors” and ended up with attacks. It is how the Palestinians justify violence to themselves. And since groups like Hamas run Palestine (duly elected) and it is in the Hamas charter that one of their main goals is the total annihilation of all Jews, it isn’t such a stretch to say intifada is a call for genocide. It is a term used for rejecting Israel BAMN (our term for justifying violence).

But let’s say you don’t want to believe it means genocide. Let’s say it’s just a peaceful protest term. It isn’t up to you to make that decision. The MIT policy that I have now cut/pasted into this thread twice clearly states that verbal intimidation is enough to violate that policy. Given the past history of the use of the term “intifada” I’d suggest that the decision for whether that is a peaceful protest word is up to the Jewish people on campus. If they feel intimidated or abusive and these protests that use that term make them feel unsafe on campus, it is banned.

So now let’s get back to the actual question that was asked. Stefanik equated “intifada” with genocide. None of the university presidents argued that and, in fact, Harvard’s president agreed with that definition. Now let’s assume she was wrong and it doesn’t equate to genocide. That could be something that was addressed. But when she asked the question that brought on all the angst, she didn’t use the term “intifada” at all. She asked plain and simply: “On your campus, does the calling for the genocide of Jews violate your Code of Conduct or policy of bullying and harassment?” Not a single one of the presidents said it would.

You’re gay, so let’s change it up for a moment. What if Stefanik had said “On your campus, does the calling for the genocide of LGBTQ people violate your Code of Conduct or policy of bullying and harassment?” Would you still be trying to play semantics or defending the university presidents for their noble effort at supporting free speech? Or would you be upset at them for not giving a resounding “Absolutely that violates our policy!”? How about if you were on the campus and saw large protests that were calling for genocide of LGBTQ folks? Would a reasonable person be able to conclude that was intimidating, hostile and abusive and adversely affected your educational, work, or living environment? Would you be upset and impacted by such protests if you were at that university?

seawulf575's avatar

@Zaku So let me get this straight: you are arguing about a “gotcha” question and you don’t even know the context or what the question was? Amazing.

But once again, others will do your research for you. @JLeslie gave you the perfect link…the YouTube video of the entire meeting. It was over 5 hours long. And she gave you the first part of Stefanik’s questioning. But as I have already stated in my previous responses, she was given time from another representative later on. You’ll find it at about time stamp 4:55:35. And since you don’t like to actually find things out for yourself I can tell you I’ve posted the direct quote of the question twice now. “On your campus, does the calling for the genocide of Jews violate your Code of Conduct or policy of bullying and harassment?”

As to your other question Since when is it a US university’s domain to set policy about what people are allowed to say in public? That one’s easy. It has been that way since we started talking about harassment in this country. When it became law that it was illegal to harass people. Since Title IX was put into place. Since they began getting included in on civil lawsuits for their lack of establishing a safe atmosphere for living and learning. When, especially, you woke idiots on the left started pushing DEI. Universities are public spaces and just like many other businesses are required to adhere to the law.

And just so you don’t think I’m coming down too hard on you, your answer to @Demosthenes: The layers of stupidity and disinformation on this subject are preposterously thick and deep. is absolutely correct. Unfortunately since you don’t even know what the conversation is about and don’t even know what questions were asked, you are proving you are a huge part of that thick deep morass.

JLeslie's avatar

@seawulf575 I don’t agree with your accusation that I did the research for @Zaku when I also took two days to finally get around to trying to find the questioning in full. @Zaku and I both all along have been questioning clips and highlights.

You are personally attacking him. I suggest you pull back and maybe flag your own answer.

Demosthenes's avatar

@seawulf575 The term Intifada has always been used in reference to extremely violent protests that sought to kill those the Palestinians deem “oppressors” and ended up with attacks.

The term has been used to refer to any uprising on the part of the Palestinians against the oppression they face from Israel. “Intifada” has characterized civil disobedience, protests, and riots, some of which have turned violent. Intifada, from the Palestinian perspective, is a justified resistance, yes, and even if you disagree that it is not justified, the idea that term can only refer to violent action against civilians or a desire to exterminate Jews is simply incorrect. That is not how the term has been used in the past and is not an accurate description of the two capital-I Intifadas.

But let’s say you don’t want to believe it means genocide. Let’s say it’s just a peaceful protest term. It isn’t up to you to make that decision.

The question wasn’t whether students felt unsafe on campus, the question was whether or not the protests that have been occurring on these campuses have been calling for genocide, and, if they are, whether that violates policy. As I stated in my previous answer, any protest, in fact, any speech could be construed as causing someone to feel unsafe or uncomfortable. It is not unique to Israel vs. Palestine. Construing all opposition to Israel as genocide is a means of making any protest that expresses support for Palestinians or opposition to Israel inherently a violation of policy. But unless Jewish students are being harassed or deliberately targeted, feeling unsafe is not a high enough bar. One could say the same thing about a pro-life protest or even the presence of a Christian group on campus. Anyone can claim to feel unsafe by the specter of those who disagree with them or oppose their cause. That is not enough to determine that the protest or the movement is violating policy. They have to be actively engaging in harassment, which seemed to be the point of what the presidents meant when they cited harassment and speech vs. conduct. The policies prevent harassment and targeting of students; they don’t necessarily prevent expressing a view that some students may find reprehensible.

So now let’s get back to the actual question that was asked. Stefanik equated “intifada” with genocide. None of the university presidents argued that and, in fact, Harvard’s president agreed with that definition.

And they are wrong.

She asked plain and simply: “On your campus, does the calling for the genocide of Jews violate your Code of Conduct or policy of bullying and harassment?” Not a single one of the presidents said it would.

I can’t speak to what was going on in their heads, but as @Irukandji pointed out, the policies are deliberately vague and they were likely answering the question honestly. In other words, even if the students in question had been calling for genocide (which I would argue they were not, but that is beside the point) it may not have violated the policy as it stands as the policies are designed to prevent harassment and certain forms of conduct, not specific instances of speech. In other words, there is no policy that prevents calling for genocide. Perhaps there should be. But as I stated in my past response, even if there were, that would not preclude these pro-Palestinian protests we’ve been seeing because these protests are not calling for genocide.

So what is the take away from their questioning? That these universities need to change their policies to prevent calls for genocide? Go ahead and do so. That would not make supporting Palestine a violation of policy. The question would then not be whether calling for genocide violates policy, but whether the protests constitute calling for genocide. And that, I think, you would have a very difficult time proving.

Re. your hypothetical about LGBT people, I would not want to see anyone calling for genocide of LGBT people, but I would also not misconstrue some other kind of demonstration as calling for genocide simply because I disagreed with the protesters’ worldview. These protests we’ve been seeing are not anti-Jew, they are anti-Israel. The two are not the same.

seawulf575's avatar

@JLeslie I’m sorry you feel I was attacking him. He has made some snippy answers to or about me and my answers to the question. Then he comes out and says he hasn’t even seen the interaction and doesn’t even know what the question was. So his sniping was from a position of ignorance. And for him to say: The layers of stupidity and disinformation on this subject are preposterously thick and deep. is, in itself, stupidity and disinformation on this subject. He had no clue when he made that deep comment. Care to clock him on some of his attacks?

Demosthenes's avatar

Actually, he was almost perfectly on point when he made that comment. The only thing I would disagree with is characterizing it as “stupidity”. It’s not done out of ignorance or stupidity; it’s all very deliberate and conscious and done with a very specific goal in mind (namely the delegitimization of criticism of Israel and American policy towards Israel). But the idea that thousands of American college students are calling for the extermination of the Jews is absurd and such an idea deserves to be reacted to with scorn and contempt.

seawulf575's avatar

@Demosthenes you are struggling mightily to try and make this all okay. I notice you dodged the part of the question if it was about calling for genocide of LGBTQ instead of Jews would you still feel the same? And you completely dodge the fact that the MIT policy specifically states what harassment is. And your response is that calling for the genocide of a group might not be intimidating? Please. Again, if you were at your university and there was a group calling for the death of a gays, would you wander on and not feel intimidated? Would you not think that was harassment? Or would you back the presidents of the universities that appeared in front of Congress and believe that everyone would have to wait until some actual action was taken on that before they could call it harassment? Are you going to tell all the snowflakes that say they feel threatened if someone uses the wrong pronouns to just shut up? After all its just talk, right?

By your reasoning there is no such thing as sexual harassment providing it is just talk. There is no racism providing it is just talk. There is no homophobia providing its just talk. There is no age discrimination providing its just talk. By your reasoning a jilted boyfriend could call and threaten his ex-girlfriend any time he wants because he has the First Amendment right to say whatever he wants. She’s not allowed to call it harassment because he isn’t actually following up on any of the things he says.

Suggesting that their policies need to address each and every possible topic that could now or in the future be construed as harassment is a wild, out of the realm of reality, idea.

Demosthenes's avatar

@seawulf575 I answered your questions. You didn’t like the answers. That is not my problem. I will give the same answers each and every time. The answers don’t change, because those are the answers. And the presidents gave their answers too. Calling for genocide would violate the policy if it became conduct, harassment. That is what they said. That may be inadequate. Perhaps there does need to be a policy that considers certain types of speech or ideas to be harassment by their very nature. There does not appear to be, at least according to them. In either case, it is moot because no one is calling for genocide. That is the real reason they were being questioned and what the underlying question behind this theater was. There is no need to even talk about calling for genocide being harassment unless you think someone is actually calling for genocide, which is the point: to shut down pro-Palestinian protests and ensure that all students who march for Palestine are labeled anti-Semitic, genocide-supporting harassers. And it’s BS and I see through it.

JLeslie's avatar

@Demosthenes During the hearing the question might have started with definition of intifada, and that can certainly be debated, and simply we can say it is defined differently by different people. Like, I used to say I’m not a Zionist, because I don’t agree that Jews get Israel because we were there 4,000 years ago. Now, I guess I am a Zionist, because I do support Israel’s right to exist.

To get back to the questioning, eventually the question became do you support on campus people calling for the genocide of Jews? That should be a clear answer, the answer should have been no. They can argue that asking for an uprising, intifada or, resistance does not mean genocide. They need to understand it is still scary for Jewish students. Just like QAnon saying “rise up” was scary for me. They will not replace us, very scary too.

However, do you know when a suicide bomber kills Jews the Palestinians give out candies in celebration? That many Palestinians consider all Israelis army, so there are no civilians. Not all Palestinians, I’m not trying to overstate, but more than you might think.

Talk to Arabs in Israel, a good portion know they are more free in Israel than in a Muslim theocracy. Many Israeli Arabs fight in the Israeli army.

Many Palestinians do not want a two state solution. They don’t choose peace if it means two states.

Edit: I want to add a mob or protest is very different than using words in a discussion.

hat's avatar

The goal of the right-wing attack on academia is both the usual attempt to stifle dissent and restrict academic freedom and it’s a way to keep the US population scared and silent while it arms and funds the oppressors in an ongoing genocide. Any attempts to “it’s complicated” this falls into their trap. It couldn’t be more simple and transparent.

Zaku's avatar

@Zaku So let me get this straight: you are arguing about a “gotcha” question and you don’t even know the context or what the question was? Amazing.
– Well, I feel I know enough to make the responses that I did.
– There are limits to how much time and energy I’m willing to invest (which limits I’m already pushing hard), because:
1) The US alt-right element has a long-established pattern of doing exactly this kind of disinformation and mischaracterization.
2) Various right-wing-crap-listening users, have a well-established pattern of WASTING OUR TIME by bringing up disingenuous alt-right political bullshit arguments and pretending like they deserve anyone to WASTE THEIR TIME “considering” them and giving them a “fair” listen, even when it’s abundantly clear that they are almost certainly just disinformation trying to confuse popular thinking and create UTTERLY INCORRECT narratives that do not represent the true situation.
3) Even if the content had merit, it would still be way at the bottom of my lists of things I care about, or want to spend my time on. Even just the political issues. For example, I care more than 1,000,000 times as much about Scottish Wildcat preservation than I do about how well some university presidents answered some politically-motivated questions about allegedly/accidentally perhaps-genocidally-associated protest chants made protesting excessive violence by Israel trying to eradicate Hamas.

“But once again, others will do your research for you.”
– Thank goodness for that!

”@JLeslie gave you the perfect link…the YouTube video of the entire meeting. It was over 5 hours long.”
– No doubt you’d like me to waste my time watching that, and you’re going to claim I ought to, or else I have no business answering this highly intelligent point of yours?

“And she gave you the first part of Stefanik’s questioning. But as I have already stated in my previous responses, she was given time from another representative later on. You’ll find it at about time stamp 4:55:35. And since you don’t like to actually find things out for yourself I can tell you I’ve posted the direct quote of the question twice now. “On your campus, does the calling for the genocide of Jews violate your Code of Conduct or policy of bullying and harassment?”
– Thanks.
– But that’s not really the same as the OP’s assertion that “None of them would make an unequivocal statement that calling for genocide against Jews is wrong.”
– I also don’t find either really compelling.
– As I mentioned in another thread, I don’t think that college protesters chanting a Palestinian slogan associated with Hamas’ genocidal statements, is a call for genocide of Israel. I think that’s an alt-right strategy for trying to score political points with their easily-misled base. Those protests are about the non-combattants suffering in Gaza. I don’t think that it makes sense to try to insist that the university ought to intervene against those protests based on that.

I ALSO do admit that I may not know enough about the wholeness of the situation. I expect there probably are ALSO anti-Semitic actions on campus which DO warrant university action. And I expect those presidents would agree. They seem professional and intelligent to me, and to actually care about the actual situations on their campuses.

The attempt to make it seem like there’s some scandalously terrible behavior by those university presidents seems like a dishonest political stunt to me. And one I don’t particularly care about. It’s noise, intended to distract from the many many things more true and more worthy of attention.

JLeslie's avatar

@hat I agree that the right wing is going after academia for political and otherwise shitty reasons, but the far left has gone too far too. Both extremes are going too far and have become obstinate and unreasonable and I will say even idealistic and unrealistic.

seawulf575's avatar

@Demosthenes Except you didn’t answer my questions. You dodged them. You answered the ones you wanted to answer and dodged those that you know would shoot your argument to hell and back. But hey, you want to be a hypocrite and dishonest enough to try hiding it, it’s no skin off my nose.

And you are still doing it. You are trying to say that talking about genocide is moot, yet that was the question posed to them. You are trying to make talking about genocide against a group of existing people on campus no big deal, yet now you seem to want to maintain that other forms of verbal threatening and intimidation are worse. Careful, I may mispronoun you.

seawulf575's avatar

@Zaku Thank you for making my point for me yet once again. Your entire response shows The layers of stupidity and disinformation you put out to the universe. All I need to know about you, really. Sadly many of the Various left-wing-crap-listening users on hear don’t want to acknowledge how you are wasting everyone’s time.

JLeslie's avatar

@Zaku You wrote Those protests are about the non-combattants suffering in Gaza. Are you saying the slogan from the river to the sea means that? I don’t see how from the river to the sea can mean understandable concern for the civilians who are suffering in Gaza.

Do you agree a large crowd/protest/mob, is very different than students discussing a topic and disagreeing? Both can be frightening to students who always feel their people are vulnerable, but mobs of people holding signs and chanting is particularly scary. People will “follow the leader” and do all sorts of crazy shit under group pressure. What if it was MAGA protestors with signs saying pray the gay away and other signs with a big X over a rainbow.

I agree with you that the university presidents most likely do very much care about the safety and well being of the students. I agree about the alt-right thing. I also am constantly amazed as a Jewish person how most people don’t understand that Jewish people are hyperaware, higher anxiety, about the topic of people wanting to kill them. We don’t seem to be acknowledged in the same way as Black, Asians, LGBT, or Latin Americans, just to name a few groups.

Demosthenes's avatar

@seawulf575 I did answer them. Go back and read, though I’m well aware that understanding what you read is not your strong suit.

seawulf575's avatar

@Demosthenes No, you didn’t actually answer the questions. Even about the hypothetical LGBTQ question. You sort of tried to dance around the questions but even that answer didn’t make any sense.

I asked: How about if you were on the campus and saw large protests that were calling for genocide of LGBTQ folks? Would a reasonable person be able to conclude that was intimidating, hostile and abusive and adversely affected your educational, work, or living environment? Would you be upset and impacted by such protests if you were at that university?

Your answer was: Re. your hypothetical about LGBT people, I would not want to see anyone calling for genocide of LGBT people, but I would also not misconstrue some other kind of demonstration as calling for genocide simply because I disagreed with the protesters’ worldview.

You dodged the question. You hinted that yes, if someone was calling for the genocide of gay people it would bother you. But you completely tried changing the question after that. Just like the University presidents did. Because the question that was asked to them was if calling for genocide violated their policies. Period. That is the same question I asked you. You tried changing it to not construing their meaning. I didn’t ask that. As for whether protesters calling for genocide of LGBTQ could be reasonably considered to be intimidating, abusive, or hostile you dodged that completely. Would it impact your feeling of safety? Would it distract all aspects of your life on campus? You completely ignored those questions too. The question is very straight forward. If protesters were calling for people to kill gays, would you wait for their conduct to take form before seeing something wrong with it? How about if they just called for beating all gays? Or would that make you uncomfortable enough to actually see it as harassment by the definition that has been provided?

As I already pointed out, by your answer, you would wait for some violence to take place before you would consider it speech that could be threatening. But that could go for everything. It could be racist speech, it could sexist talk, it could be stalker talk, it could be anything that would lead to some violence. So do you really believe that all speech should be allowed until some actual violence occurs?

Demosthenes's avatar

Because the question that was asked to them was if calling for genocide violated their policies.

And their answer was that it depended on context. @Irukandji explained it best. Re-read their answer.

The rest of your questions hinge on the idea that calling for genocide is occurring. I’ve already said all I have to say about that.

seawulf575's avatar

Calling for Genocide does violate their policies. I posted the MIT policy on harassment and it would clearly violate that. The policies don’t require “conduct” to be harassment. Verbal, non-verbal, or physical actions that are intimidating, hostile, or abusive are what they deem to be harassment. The only real determination the administration would need to make would be the extent of the talk. One person mentioning it in a conversation would not be harassment, for example. A whole group of protesters chanting it over and over would. The chanting IS the conduct that meets the definition. You keep trying to dodge that. The question asked was very straight forward.

And you still avoided the questions I asked you, specifically, as to how it would impact you if it was the killing of all LGBTQ instead of Jews that was being chanted.

Demosthenes's avatar

Calling for Genocide does violate their policies.

One person mentioning it in a conversation would not be harassment, for example.

So is calling for genocide always harassment, or not? Does the policy always prohibit calling for genocide, or is it dependent on context, i.e. whether it becomes conduct/harassment?

killing of all LGBTQ instead of Jews that was being chanted.

No one is chanting for the killing of all Jews. That is the part that you don’t understand.

The suggestion that pro-Palestinian protesters are calling for the killing of all Jews is an attempt to silence criticism of Israel. So does whether or not the protesters are actually calling for genocide matter, or is the perception that they’re calling for genocide (whether it’s true or not) what determines that the policy has been violated?

Demosthenes's avatar

Let me put a hypothetical to you, that is more similar to what is happening now with pro-Palestinian protests:

Many would argue that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians. I don’t think pro-Israeli students are directly calling for the genocide of Palestinians, but to some, Israeli policy is by its very nature genocidal, i.e. it seeks for the destruction of Palestinian homes and society and attempts to drive Palestinians out of Israel and into Jordan and Egypt. So what if a Palestinian student saw a pro-Israel protest on campus and said they felt harassed by the genocidal nature of the protest, because by that logic anyone supporting Israeli actions in Gaza is supporting genocide (and thus these pro-Israel students are calling for genocide)? Should that protest then be shut down, in accordance with the policy?

seawulf575's avatar

@Demosthenes No one is chanting for the killing of all Jews. That is the part that you don’t understand. No, but that was the question that was asked of these presidents. The question was if calling for genocide would violate their policies…nothing more and nothing less. That is the part you are continually trying to dodge. Because to actually answer it honestly would mean that the presidents ARE dodging (much like yourself) and they might actually have to consider that a crowd calling for intifada is problematic. Yes, I know you say intifada isn’t genocide, but it has always ended in violence. So with that history, and for these protests to be calling for global intifada, violence is extremely likely and threatening to any Jews nearby.

I’ll accept your hypothetical. Especially since it plays right into what I’ve been saying and highlights your dodges. So we are on campus and there is a pro-Israeli protest going on. If they are merely saying “support Israel!” there is no problem. If they are suggesting that all Palestinians need to be dealt with using violence if the mood takes you, there is a huge problem. It isn’t a pro-Palestine protest that is just saying to stop the violence in the ME, nor one saying “Support Palestine!”. It is taking it that extra step further. The US is not an active combatant in this conflict so to call for some action against the other group IS conduct that is harassment.

But the REAL point is that the actual question asked, Does Calling for Genocide violate your Code of Conduct or Harassment policies?, covers ANY case. It covers all people that are protesting and all those they are protesting against, no matter what the conflict is. So to your hypothetical, it answer the original question properly. The only difference is the CONDUCT of that protest. In your hypothetical, no one in the protest is actually calling for violence against the Palestinian student. That student is just FEELING threatened because they don’t like Israelis. By that logic, blacks could claim to feel threatened if white people are protesting anything. People could claim they feel threatened by LGBTQ demonstration. A protest against abortion could result in pro-choicers claiming to feel threatened. And we have seen that argument made on campuses across the country. None of these cases (black/whites, LGBTQ, or Abortion) may be saying anything threatening and you are trying to say the FEELINGS of those listening make the choice. That is not the point of the question that was asked of the presidents. They were asked a very specific, direct question about their policies. And they dodged. So let me ask you again, is calling for violence against a group of people (or even one student) harassment? I’m not talking about one person making some random comment (though that might raise red flags), but a whole protest chanting it over an over?

Demosthenes's avatar

Yes, that is a point I made in my earlier comments. That if you feel that genocide is being called for, that is not the same as genocide actually being called for, and that matters in the context of the protests and the policy, because they are not actually calling for genocide.

Calling for genocide would violate the policy if it constituted harassment.

If calling for genocide is not occurring, then it can’t be causing harassment.

seawulf575's avatar

@Demosthenes And you continue to miss the point. The question that was asked was not “Do you feel genocide was asked for?” It was “Does calling for genocide violate your policies”. It is cut and dried and obviously beyond your ability to answer.

gorillapaws's avatar

@seawulf575 I know you are, but what am I?

seawulf575's avatar

@gorillapaws But the lawn doesn’t need mowing.

I just answered a question…just not the one you asked. That’s the sort of dodge I am seeing on here.

Demosthenes's avatar

It’s funny that we keep talking about this like it was a legal hearing, and not the political show-trial that it actually was.

Look, all I’ll say is this: there is a genocide in the Levant occurring right now and it’s the one that the U.S. is supporting. So I don’t really care if students shout “intifada!” and someone thinks it’s a call for genocide. To the students feeling “unsafe” because someone opposes your ethno-state: grow up. College is the safest, easiest time of your life; no one’s going to genocide you. The real genocide is the one we should be concerned with, not some imaginary one that scary pro-Palestinian protesters aren’t even actually calling for.

seawulf575's avatar

@Demosthenes ”:To the students feeling “unsafe” because someone opposes your ethno-state: grow up.” The same could be said about all those that feel threatened by getting mispronouned or who feel they are being targeted because they are gay or trans or those that feel society is against them because they are black. Grow up.

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