Redo: Harvard President Condemns Hamas Terrorist Attacks After Alum Blowback for Tepid Response

Israeli building, Claudine Gay (Amir Levy/Getty Images,
October 10, 2023

Harvard University president Claudine Gay on Monday issued a belated statement condemning Hamas's mass terrorist attacks, after facing days of blowback from alumni for staying silent on the atrocities as student groups blamed Israel for the war.

Gay said she "condemn[s] the terrorist atrocities perpetrated by Hamas," calling the actions "abhorrent, whatever one's individual views of the origins of longstanding conflicts in the region."

The university president added that "no student group—not even 30 student groups—speaks for Harvard University or its leadership." She was referring to a coalition of Harvard students that claimed on Saturday that Israel was "entirely responsible for all unfolding violence."

Gay's latest comments come after she issued a tepid and widely criticized response late Monday to the attacks, following days of silence, saying that the university was "heartbroken by the death and destruction unleashed by the attack by Hamas" but declining to directly condemn the terrorist group or its supporters on campus.

The six-paragraph statement had only one line addressing Hamas's attacks, in which hundreds of Israeli civilians were killed and taken hostage. The response drew criticism from prominent alumni, including former Harvard president Larry Summers and Massachusetts Democratic congressman Jake Auchincloss.

"Harvard's leadership has failed. The president and deans refuse to denounce the antisemitism of Harvard student groups," wrote Auchincloss on Twitter. "Instead of moral clarity and courage, they offer word salad approved by committee. I am ashamed of my alma mater."

Summers, who had called out the university for its days of silence on the attacks, said the "delayed @Harvard leadership statement fails to meet the needs of the moment."

The former Harvard president noted that the university's dithering response to Hamas's attacks in Israel was a sharp contrast to the school's strong statement standing with Ukraine after the Russian invasion and Gay's comments denouncing racism and police brutality after the murder of George Floyd.

"Why can't we find anything approaching the moral clarity of Harvard statements after George Floyd's death or Russia's invasion of Ukraine," Summers wrote, "when terrorists kill, rape and take hostage hundreds of Israelis attending a music festival?"