In bipartisan vote, US House passes authoritarian resolution calling on Harvard, MIT presidents to resign

In bipartisan 303-126 vote Wednesday evening, the US House of Representatives passed a McCarthyite resolution calling on the presidents of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to resign, based on the false claim that they are fostering antisemitism on their campuses.

House Resolution 927, introduced by far-right New York Republican Representative Elise Stefanik, was supported by 84 Democrats, including House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York. Every single Republican, except Kentucky libertarian Thomas Massie voted in favor of the resolution, which condemned the testimony of all three private university presidents who appeared in front of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on December 5.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, Republican-Louisiana, speaks during a press conference with Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, Republican-New York at the Capitol in Washington on Tuesday, November 7, 2023. [AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades]

According to the resolution, the presidents failed to “condemn the genocide of Jews” on college campuses and “Presidents Elizabeth Magill, Claudine Gay, and Sally Kornbluth were evasive and dismissive.”

House Resolution 927 continues, “President Magill has resigned and the other Presidents should follow suit.”

While the resolution claims to be addressing the alleged “rise of antisemitism” on college campuses, its real target is the hundreds of thousands of students, faculty and the broader population as a whole who have protested for over two months against the ethnic cleansing in Gaza. Thousands of Jews have participated in these protests as well, so the claim that the demonstrations are “antisemitic” is absurd and reactionary.

Millions of people around the world, including hundreds of thousands of students in the US, are horrified at the war crimes being carried out by the Israel Defense Forces with the full military, political and economic support of the Biden administration and the Democratic and Republican parties.

Unable to crush this mass opposition to genocide and war, the US ruling class is trying to stifle anti-war protests by slandering them as “antisemitic,” while applying pressure to college presidents and administrators to ban pro-Palestinian and anti-war groups, such as Students for Justice in Palestine.

Working together to crush the burgeoning anti-war movement, Biden’s Department of Education has opened up dozens of “investigations” into college campuses and high schools where protests have been held. At the same time, Republicans in the House have introduced several right-wing bills falsely equating anti-Zionism with antisemitism, laying the groundwork for future anti-democratic police-state measures, while also effectively blaming all Jews for the crimes of the Netanyahu government in Israel.

Despite claiming to fight “antisemitism,” H. Res. 927 says nothing about the Republican Party, one of the largest proponents of antisemitic politics in the world. Ex-president Donald Trump, who has promised to be a dictator on “day one” of a second presidency, and virtually the entire party have embraced the anti-immigrant and antisemitic “Great Replacement Theory” (GRT).

GRT posits that Jews and left-wing groups are seeking to “replace” white people in Europe, Australia and America with “lesser stock” from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The sponsor of H. Res. 927, Rep. Stefanik, an ardent supporter of Trump, has tacitly promoted the fascistic conspiracy theory, which has led to several massacres in recent years, including in El Paso, Texas and Buffalo, New York.

H. Res. 927 likewise makes no mention of the Republican Party’s support for far-right campus organizations, such as Turning Point USA, which regularly invite antisemitic speakers, such as members of the Proud Boys militia group, to college campuses. Nor does the resolution note the role of the Republican Party in embracing outright neo-Nazis such as Nick Fuentes.

As for the resolution itself, it first falsely claims that “Hamas terrorists” alone were responsible for the “deadliest attack” on Jewish people “since the Holocaust.”

As the World Socialist Web Site has previously reported, of the roughly 1,000 people killed in October 7 attack, it appears a significant number were gunned down by Israeli helicopter pilots or blown up by Merkava tanks. Furthermore, on Tuesday, Electronic Intifada, citing Israel outlet Ynet, reported that Israeli military officials admitted that an “immense and complex quantity” of “friendly fire” incidents occurred on October 7.

The Ynet article, written by Yoaz Zitun, reads: “Casualties fell as a result of friendly fire on October 7, but the IDF believes that… it would not be morally sound to investigate them.”

As for the resolution, in order to buttress bogus claims that antisemitic activity on college campuses emanates from left-wing students and faculty advocating for Palestinian human rights, the resolution launders discredited statistics from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) that falsely claim that since the Hamas prison break there have been “2,031 antisemitic incidents” in the US, including “400 antisemitic incidents” that allegedly occurred on college campuses.

However, according to the ADL itself, 905, or nearly half, of these so-called “antisemitic incidents,” since October 7, are actually “anti-Israel rallies.” A map created by the ADL shows that virtually all of the “anti-Israel rallies” cited by the organization are simply anti-genocide protests that have taken place on virtually every major college campus across the United States.

Despite the broad participation of large numbers of students in the anti-genocide protests, including many Jewish students, all the university presidents during last week’s hearing denounced the protests that occurred on or near their campuses as “abhorrent.” The presidents also stated their support for the state of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, in which non-Jews, particularly Palestinian Arabs, are relegated to the status of second-class citizens, like black South Africans under apartheid.

While several self-declared “progressive” Democrats, and every member of the “Squad,” did not vote in favor of H. Res. 927, over 40 percent of House Democrats joined their “Republican colleagues” in backing the measure, including Minority Leader Jeffries.

Notably, in the elections for House Speaker in January and November of this year, Jeffries was supported by every single Democratic member of the House, including Rashida Tlaib (Michigan), Cori Bush (Missouri) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York).

According to OpenSecrets.org, the top contributor to Jeffries’ campaign committee for this election cycle is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC. The Zionist lobby, which has given over $4.3 million to Joe Biden since 1990, has contributed over $323,000 to Jeffries in this current election cycle, roughly six times more than his next top contributor, MetLife Inc.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, (New York-Democratic) speaks in favor of US military support to the IDF at the March for Israel rally in Washington DC, November 14, 2023. [Photo: Jewish Federation of Greater Washington]

That Jeffries voted in favor of Stefanik’s resolution exposes all of the Democrats who have previously supported him as speaker. Their claims to be opposed to Israel’s genocidal policies are completely hollow if they support for Speaker someone who would support the same genocidal policies as the current Speaker, while at the same time attacking university presidents for not sufficiently kowtowing to the cynical attempts of fascistic Republicans to posture as defenders of Jewish people.

The fact is, as Wednesday’s vote shows, Democrats would sooner join with Republicans in suppressing the democratic rights of students and workers to protest genocide, than oppose the growing authoritarian tendencies in the Republican Party and the US ruling class as a whole.

The fight to end the genocide in Gaza and defend the democratic rights of the working class must be waged in opposition to both parties of capital and the system they defend, which is the source of imperialist barbarism and inequality.