Harvard president says she is sorry after telling Congress that antisemitism could be tolerated "depending on the context"

Claudine Gay said her statements during the hearing were the result of a heated exchange over policies and procedures.

Harvard University President Claudine Gay has publicly apologized after making controversial comments about antisemitism during her testimony before the House Education and Workforce Committee.

During a hearing Tuesday, Gay suggested that calling for the genocide of Jews on campus is not necessarily considered a violation of Harvard’s codes of conduct, as it would “depend on the context” of the incident. This comment generated outrage, multiple criticisms on social networks and even a response from the White House.

After the negative reactions, the president of the institution decided to give an interview in The Harvard Crimson to express her regret. During the conversation, Gay acknowledged the importance of the words and highlighted the negative impact her statements had.

I am sorry. Words matter,” she said. “When words amplify distress and pain, I don’t know how you could feel anything but regret,” she added.

In the interview, Gay said that her words during the hearing were the result of a heated exchange about policies and procedures and claimed that the problem was that she failed to effectively communicate her commitment to fighting antisemitism.

“Substantively, I failed to convey what is my truth,” she said.

Gay also issued a statement

After even the White House weighed in and highlighted the seriousness of the issue, the Harvard president issued a statement suggesting that some people misinterpreted her comments.

“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.

Gay’s comments have repercussions

Following the statements by the president of Harvard University, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce announced an official investigation into antisemitism at Harvard.

For his part, Rabbi David Wolpe resigned from an advisory group created by Gay in November to address threats against Jews on campus.