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Pennsylvania Governor and Senator Denounce Antisemitism at Rally

Gov. Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania and other officials in Pennsylvania denounced antisemitism at a rally in Philadelphia on Sunday, a demonstration of support for Jews one day after the resignation of the president of the University of Pennsylvania, Elizabeth Magill, who was heavily criticized for not condemning antisemitism forcefully enough.

“I have seen Pennsylvanians take actions big and small, and both matter, to combat antisemitism,” Mr. Shapiro said on Sunday afternoon. “I’ve seen it here in Philadelphia where students raised their voices, where students made sure they were heard in the halls of power at their university, and leadership was held accountable.”

Mr. Shapiro, a Democrat, spoke as part of a rally against antisemitism at Rodeph Shalom Synagogue, where he was joined by Senator Bob Casey, a fellow Democrat, along with Rabbi Eli Freedman and Michael Balaban, the president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

“We shouldn’t have to gather on a rainy day in Pennsylvania to talk about antisemitism, but we must,” Senator Casey said. “We gather to call out and condemn the evil, the horrific evil of antisemitism.”

The remarks came one day after Ms. Magill resigned amid intense pressure from donors, politicians and alumni, who criticized her testimony in Congress last week in which she appeared to evade the question of whether students who called for the genocide of Jews should be punished.

Ms. Magill’s remarks on Tuesday set off a wave of criticism, and she apologized on Wednesday evening for her testimony, saying that “a call for genocide of Jewish people is a call for some of the most terrible violence human beings can perpetrate. It’s evil — plain and simple.”

Gov. Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania speaking at a news conference in Yardley, Pa., last week.Credit…Matt Rourke/Associated Press

Penn’s chairman of the board of trustees, Scott L. Bok, also announced his resignation on Saturday.

Ms. Magill was the first university president to step down in connection with the uproar on campuses since the Hamas attack on Israel and Israel’s subsequent invasion of Gaza.

Support for Ms. Magill had already eroded in recent months over her decision to allow a Palestinian literary conference to be held on campus and because of the university’s initial response to the Hamas attack on Oct. 7. Any support completely unraveled after her testimony on Dec. 5.

In response to the testimony, wealthy donors to Penn moved to withdraw donations, influential graduates questioned her leadership and public officials urged the university to oust its president.

Mr. Shapiro, a nonvoting member of Penn’s board, called the responses by Ms. Magill at the congressional hearing “unacceptable.”

“It should not be hard to condemn genocide, genocide against Jews, genocide against anyone else,” he said on Wednesday in a meeting with reporters. “I’ve said many times, leaders have a responsibility to speak and act with moral clarity, and Liz Magill failed to meet that simple test.”

He added, “There should be no nuance to that — she needed to give a one-word answer.”

Alan Blinder contributed reporting.

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