UPenn faculty visit Israel following Liz Magill resignation

UPenn faculty professors visited Israel this week in a show of solidarity in the aftermath of president Liz Magill’s resignation following her disastrous Congress hearing on campus anti-Semitism.   

Approximately 30 faculty members commenced a ‘three-day solidarity tour’ on Tuesday, navigating through a spectrum of emotions – from smiles during their initial meeting with President Isaac Herzog to a photo capturing them beaming inside a bomb shelter during their visit to Kibbutz Kfar Aza in the south. 

Their packed itinerary included meetings with government officials, visits to major universities and a tour of devastated communities in the Gaza envelope, where hundreds were brutally tortured and murdered on October 7. 

The group is also scheduled to meet with Penn alumni and attend an academic conference on trauma at Tel Aviv University on Thursday before returning to the US.

It is unclear if former UPenn President Liz Magill was invited to participate.  

The group were all smiles from their meeting with Pres. Herzog to a photo capturing them beaming inside a bomb shelter during their visit to Kibbutz Kfar Aza

Their packed itinerary included meetings with government officials, visits to major universities and a tour of devastated communities in the Gaza envelope 

Approximately 30 UPenn faculty members commenced a ‘three-day solidarity tour’ on Tuesday in the aftermath of president Liz Magill’s resignation 

Faculty snapped pictures as they toured Kibbutz Kfar Aza. The group wore bullet proof vests and helmets, highlighting the ongoing security concerns in the area.

One striking moment shows the delegation smiling while seeking refuge in a bomb shelter as rocket sirens sounded. 

Ron Berman, Associate Professor of Marketing at Wharton, shared the photo. 

‘Some of us are smiling, but we are in a mobile bomb shelter under rocket attack,’ he wrote on X.’ 

‘To clarify – I posted this after the all clear and we’re off to the rest of our day.’ 

Berman said visiting the communities in southern Israel was the ‘most difficult and emotional’ part of the visit. 

‘Traveling with a group of Penn Faculty on a Mission to Israel to build bridges with the Israeli academic community and bear witness to the impact of the Hamas attacks,’ he wrote about the trip. 

Sharing a photo of the meeting with President Herzog, he wrote, ‘First on the agenda – a meeting with the president of Israel, Mr. Isaac Herzog.’ 

”You will meet a nation agonizing. An atomic bomb of emotions’ the president told us.’ 

Claire Finkelstein, a philosophy professor, also shared a shot from the safe house, captioned: ‘Touring within the Gaza envelope, we were rushed into a bomb shelter when rockets went off within a few km of our group. We were told Iron dome took them out.’ 

The delegation, led by Professors Michael Kahana and Peter Decherney, stressed the apolitical nature of their visit. 

‘We have no political purpose, except that I suppose it’s political nowadays, just to show up as a group of faculty in Israel, but it shouldn’t be political,’ he said. 

Professor Kahana expressed concern over the lack of empathy Israeli researchers felt from international colleagues after the traumatic events. 

He described the feeling as ‘painful and hurtful’ and hoped that the visit would strengthen the resolve to support the Israeli academy. 

Kahana also expressed hope that ‘out of this meeting today, we can come back to the United States and strengthen our resolve to support the Israeli academy going forward.’ 

During their visit, the group engaged with the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, discussing ways to support Israeli academia during challenging times. 

The delegation also visited the academy at the initiative of Prof. Itzhak Fried, an Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities member. 

During their visit on Tuesday, the group met with Academy President Prof. David Harel and the Academy Council, including Vice President Prof. Margalit Finkelberg, Prof. Sergio Hart, and Prof. Yadin Dudai, to discuss ways of supporting Israeli academia in this challenging period, according to The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. 

At the gathering, Prof. Harel updated the visitors on the Academy’s work, especially initiatives related to the recent war. 

UPenn representatives also reportedly suggested several ways to promote Israeli research during this turbulent period. 

The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities shared photos of UPenn faculty in Israelh eaded by Prof. Michael Kahana and Prof. Peter Decherney, the delegation came to visit the academy at the initiative of Prof. Itzhak Fried, an Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities member

Faculty and representatives from the University of Pennsylvania tour Kibbutz Kfar Aza, following the deadly October 7 attack by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in southern Israel January 3, Child Porn Fisting 2024

The group also met with Academy President Prof. David Harel and the Academy Council, including Vice President Prof. Margalit Finkelberg, Prof. Sergio Hart, and Prof. Yadin Dudai, to discuss ways of supporting Israeli academia in this challenging period, according to The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities

University professor Ram Cnaan meets Avi Hasidim whose son, Naor Hasidim, was killed during the deadly October 7 attack by Hamas 

Faculty and representatives from the University of Pennsylvania pose for a group photo during a tour of Kibbutz Kfar Aza

A man leaves a destroyed home as faculty from the University of Pennsylvania tour Kibbutz Kfar Aza, following the deadly October 7 attack

A man looks on as faculty and representatives from the University of Pennsylvania tour Kibbutz Kfar Aza

Faculty and representatives from the University of Pennsylvania tour Kibbutz Kfar Aza

The delegation’s arrival coincides with the aftermath of President Liz Magill’s resignation, which followed her controversial testimony on antisemitism before Congress amid the Israel-Hamas war. 

UPenn has been entangled in accusations related to antisemitism on college campuses, contributing to Magill’s resignation. 

Just yesterday, Harvard President Claudine Gay also resigned in a bitter letter to colleagues and students where she failed to apologize for or acknowledge the disasters that led to her departure.

Gay, 53, lasted just six months in the role – the shortest tenure of any president in the school’s history. 

Her resignation came 28 days after her congressional testimony about campus antisemitism, where she refused to categorize calls for Jew genocide as harassment or concede that Jewish students had a right not to feel safe at Ivy League schools.

In her resignation, Gay wrote that she was standing down after ‘consultation’ with the school’s board, which has been under pressure to replace her after defending her remarks.

She failed to acknowledge where she went wrong – making no mention of December 5 testimony or the mounting claims of plagiarism against her – but said she had been the victim of racist threats.

‘It has become clear that it is in the best interests of Harvard for me to resign so that our community can navigate this moment of extraordinary challenge with a focus on the institution rather than any individual,’ Gay wrote.

Avi Hasidim prays outside the apartment in which his son, Naor Hasidim, and Naor’s girlfriend, Sivan Elkabets, were killed during the deadly October 7 attack by Hamas 

Avi Hasidim reads from a book as he visits the apartment in which his son, Naor Hasidim, and Naor’s girlfriend, Sivan Elkabets, were killed during the deadly October 7

Avi Hasidim stands outside the apartment in which his son, Naor Hasidim, and Naor’s girlfriend, Sivan Elkabets, were killed during the deadly October 7 attack, as he speaks with Anati Elkabets, Sivan’s mother, in Kibbutz Kfar Aza in southern Israel January 3, 2024

Avi Hasidim, father of Naor Hasidim, embraces Anati Elkabets, mother of Sivan Elkabets, an Israeli couple who were killed during the deadly October 7 attack, in the apartment in which Naor and Sivan were killed, in Kibbutz Kfar Aza in southern Israel January 3, 2024

A woman visits the remains of a home that was destroyed during the deadly October 7 attack by Hamas, at Kibbutz Kfar Aza in southern Israel January 3, 2024. The words in Hebrew on the wall read ‘human remains on the sofa’

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men look at the remains of a burned-out home that was destroyed during the deadly October 7 attack 

A sign at the entrance to a burned-out house depicts Ofir Shoshani who was killed during the deadly October 7 terrorist attack

The Harvard Corporation, which serves as the school board, heaped praise on her ‘devoted’ service and said it had accepted her resignation ‘with sorrow’, while Jewish groups and alumni like billionaire Bill Ackman embraced the announcement.

She said it had been ‘frightening’ to find herself the target of threats, and ‘distressing’ to have her character questioned.

Gay will be replaced by Alan M. Garber, Provost and Chief Academic Officer, who sat behind her at the infamous December 5 hearing, nodding as she made her remarks.

Her six month tenure as president is the shortest in the school’s history.

Gay was publicly scorned for her December 5 congressional testimony, where she repeatedly refused to condemn calls for Jew genocide, saying such threats did not count as harassment.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) President Sally Kornbluth is now facing growing pressure to resign after the recent departure of Harvard’s Claudine Gay.

MIT President Kornbluth is now the only president who testified at the controversial December 6 hearing still in her post.

Magill resigned in early December, following international outcry, including more than 70 lawmakers calling for her resignation. 

The former president will remain a tenured faculty member at Penn Carey Law. The delegation’s arrival coincides with the aftermath of President Liz Magill’s resignation, which followed her controversial testimony on antisemitism before Congress 

Harvard President Claudine Gay at the congressional hearing on antisemitism on campus. Gay resigned in a bitter letter to colleagues and students where she failed to apologize for or acknowledge the disasters that led to her departure on Tuesday 

The hearing also saw widely criticized testimony from MIT president Sally Kornbluth. Kornbluth is now facing growing pressure to resign after the recent departure of Harvard’s Claudine Gay

In a statement issued following her resignation Magill wrote: ‘It has been my privilege to serve as President of this remarkable institution.

‘It has been an honor to work with our faculty, students, staff, alumni, and community members to advance Penn’s vital missions.’

In his own resignation statement Bok defended Magill as a ‘good person’ who is ‘not the slightest bit anti-Semitic’ but had made a ‘misstep’ after ‘months of relentless external attacks.’

‘Today, following the resignation of the University of Pennsylvania’s President and related Board of Trustee meetings, I submitted my resignation as Chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, effective immediately,’ he said in a statement.

‘While I was asked to remain in that role for the remainder of my term in order to help with the presidential transition, I concluded that, for me, now was the right time to depart.’

Israel-HamasPalestineHamasPennsylvania