Mastriano calls for UPenn President’s resignation after failing to denounce antisemitism on campus

07 December 2023- State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-33) today called on University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill immediately to resign, citing her testimony yesterday before Congress and a history of events calling into question her ability and determination to combat antisemitism on campus.

Mastriano’s call for Magill’s resignation comes just days after he announced plans to introduce legislation that would eliminate state funding for one year for any Pennsylvania college or university that enables antisemitism.

Mastriano’s letter to Magill appears in its entirety below.

President Magill,

In the wake of your testimony in front of the U.S. Congress; following disconcerting media reports about antisemitic activity on the University of Pennsylvania campus and at university sanctioned events; and with the best interests of the university’s students, faculty, alumni, supporters and the broader people of Pennsylvania in mind, I hereby call on you to immediately resign as University of Pennsylvania president.

Your testimony before the U.S. Congress – specifically in response to a question from Rep. Elise Stfanik (R-NY) about Penn’s policies related to calling for the genocide of Jews – calls into question your ability to lead the university in a way that respects and upholds the dignity of all individuals, regardless of race or religious identification. Your answer, combined with your demeanor (the smirk you wore on your face while delivering it), raised serious concerns about your personal commitment and the university’s willingness and ability to enact and advance policies to prevent antisemitic activity at the University of Pennsylvania.

While that incident was shocking and egregious, it was not the only black mark on the university’s reputation in relation to antisemitic activities during your tenure.  However, you have a history of supporting antisemitic activities on campus.

The University of Pennsylvania’s decision on your watch to host a Palestinian Writes Literature Festival in September adds more concerns about your dedication to combatting antisemitism and protecting the rights of Jewish students and community members.  The event that you allowed, was organized by Susan Abulhawa, who has said:

“Someday we will demolish [Israel]… And the world will be a better place for it,” and “The horrors of Zionism, past and present, will someday be just as well known as the horrors of Nazism.”

The literature festival also featured Palestinian researcher Salman Abu Sitta, who said in an interview:

“Jews were hated in Europe because they played a role in the destruction of the economy in some of the countries.”

The University of Pennsylvania’s commitment to preventing and denouncing antisemitism came further under scrutiny when, during your tenure as president, a rally on the University of Pennsylvania campus featured a speech by student and writer for the student newspaper Tara Tarawneh, who spoke glowingly about pictures from the “glorious Oct. 7” attack by the terrorist organization, Hamas. The “glorious” attack she referenced was the one that resulted in more than 1,000 Israeli casualties and the capture and detainment of more than 100 innocent Israeli civilian hostages. Tarawneh continued her remarks, saying:

“I remember feeling so empowered and happy… I want all of you to hold that feeling in your hearts.”

Your inability or unwillingness to take a strong stand against such hate-filled rhetoric and behavior unsurprisingly resulted in damage to University of Pennsylvania property when pro-Hamas activists on Sunday evening vandalized university buildings and private businesses with the spray-painted antisemitic messages “intifada” and “avenge Gaza.” Intifada refers to violent uprisings – the first beginning in December 1987 and lasting until September 1993, and the second starting in September 2000 and ending in late 2005 – in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. The violence resulted in the death of approximately 1,400 Israelis.

Your lack of moral clarity and unwillingness to protect Jewish students and to condemn the brutality of Hamas reflects great shame on you and therefore you are unfit to lead any institution.

With the aforementioned incidents in mind and in an attempt to rehabilitate the reputation of the University of Pennsylvania as an inclusive community that protects students, faculty, staff and visitors against the dangerous threat posed by antisemitic rhetoric, behavior and policies, I demand that you immediately resign as president of the University of Pennsylvania.

Respectfully,

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Senator Doug Mastriano