(Bloomberg) -- Pfizer Inc. chief executive Albert Bourla slammed testimonies by the heads of three top American universities for failing to “condemn racist, antisemitic, hate rhetoric” while speaking in front of members of congress Tuesday.
Testimony by the presidents of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology “was one of the most despicable moments in the history of U.S. academia,” Bourla said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Harvard’s Claudine Gay, Penn’s Liz Magill and MIT President Sally Kornbluth testified about efforts to combat antisemitism on their campuses in the wake of the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, which is designated a terrorist group by the US and European Union. The presidents faced criticism by lawmakers, students and alumni, including financiers Cliff Asness and Bill Ackman, after refusing to say that calling for the genocide of Jews was against their schools’ policies. Magill and Gay said it depended on the context.
Bourla, who in 2020 struck an agreement with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to use Israel as a test case for Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, said his grandparents, aunt and uncle, perished at Auschwitz.
“I was wondering if their deaths would have provided enough ‘context’ to these presidents to condemn the Nazis’ antisemitic propaganda,” he added, alongside a picture of his aunt, Graciela. He said she was killed in the death camp at the age of 17. “Unfortunately, no pictures of my grandparents and uncle survived. I still wonder what they looked like,” he added.
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