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College senior Eyal Yakoby spoke in a press conference on Dec. 5 ahead of Congressional testimony from university leaders about antisemitism on college campuses.

Credit: Jada Eible Hargro

WASHINGTON — House Republican leadership hosted a press conference on Tuesday with Jewish college students, ahead of Congressional testimony from leaders in higher education about antisemitism on college campuses. 

The press conference — which included Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.), Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Education and Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), and other members of the Republican Party — featured students from Penn, Harvard Law School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and New York University. 

College senior Eyal Yakoby discussed instances of antisemitism on Penn’s campus.

“I should not be here today,” Yakoby said. “I should be studying for my upcoming finals. I should be taking in every moment, every experience as an undergraduate student in my senior year of college.”

Yakoby proceeded to discuss Sunday night’s pro-Palestinian protest

“36 hours ago, I, along with most of campus, sought refuge in our rooms as classmates and professors chanted proudly for the genocide of Jews,” he added.

Yakoby also described Penn as "unrecognizable" and a "chilling landscape of hatred and hostility." He said that Penn was once celebrated for its knowledge, but now is known for being a place where Jewish students feel unsafe, adding that the situation on campus is "a full-blown crisis."

In a statement on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, Rep. Rudy Yakym (R-Ind.) described Eyal’s testimony as showing how “serious” the problem of antisemitism is.  

“Jewish students are facing sustained attacks from students and professors who are openly propagandizing terror. And why? Merely because these Jewish students exist,” Stefanik said. “In response, campus leadership has cowered to the woke, antisemitic mob.”

Johnson said antisemitism has become too prevalent on university campuses nationwide.

“This antisemitism has become all too common, it’s turning to violence in some of these places, and the idea that university administrators would not speak out, not take care of this problem is just beyond comprehension,” Johnson said.

Talia Khan, a graduate student from MIT, spoke about antisemitic incidents on MIT’s campus which have made Jewish students feel “forced to hide their identities and perspectives.”

Harvard Law student Jonathan Frieden also expressed frustration with the alleged lack of transparency from Harvard's antisemitism task force.

“We are happy that Harvard has created an antisemitism task force, but there is no transparency about what they do,” Frieden said. “They simply don’t have executive power. They’re certainly not accessible to students.”

Frieden also addressed free speech in the context of fostering a safe campus climate.

“We are not asking you to limit free speech,” Frieden added. “We are asking the university to enforce their policies to ensure safety and a climate conducive to education.”

Following the press conference, President Liz Magill, Harvard President Claudine Gay, and MIT President Sally Kornbluth testified for over five hours about antisemitism on college campuses before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.