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Nobel laureate accused of antisemitism uses trope during Harvard commencement speech

Claims comments referred to Big Tech, politicians, and businesses

This year’s Harvard commencement speaker, who earlier this month was accused of antisemitism for comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, offered up a classic antisemitic trope during her Thursday graduation remarks.

Filipino journalist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Maria Ressa, who was awarded an honorary degree from the Ivy, complained in her speech that she’s been “called antisemitic by power and money because they want power and money” (video below).

According to The Crimson, Ressa disputed the previous antisemitism charges, reported several weeks ago by The Washington Free Beacon.

The English translation of one of her Rappler (the news site she runs) editorials stated “It is a great irony that the [Jewish] race that suffered centuries of oppression, even genocide at the hands of Adolf Hitler, is now [denying] the same aspirations [for] the Palestinians.”

Ressa also had signed on to a letter accusing Israel of purposely targeting journalists covering the Israel-Hamas war.

She told Time magazine the Free Beacon had “inaccurately characterized” her remarks and she “forcefully denied” being antisemitic, according to the Crimson story.

In her Thursday address, Ressa expressed support for anti-Israel college activists saying their protests “are testing everyone in America […] protests give voice; they shouldn’t be silenced.”

She added she’s gotten criticism “from the other side” because she had shared a stage with Hillary Clinton, who’s panned pro-Hamas students.

MORE: Harvard anti-Israel group threatens disruptions at this week’s commencement

Harvard Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi called out Ressa for her remarks while on stage, and eventually walked off after “it was clear she would not oblige with his request to clarify her statements publicly.”

According to a Saturday Crimson story, a rabbi who also requested that Ressa explain her comments messaged her on X, to which she replied “power and money referred to Big Tech and the attacks by politicians and business because they want money and power.”

Interestingly, Harvard Divinity School’s Rabbi David Wolpe pointed out that Ressa’s “power and money” remarks were not part of her planned speech.

From the Crimson:

Zarchi criticized Ressa’s support for the students in a statement, arguing that she had ignored how the students had “hijacked” the Commencement ceremony to support protesters who had violated Harvard policies. The student speakers had both diverged from the script they provided to the University to express support for sanctioned students.

He was also critical of the University’s slate of speakers, saying he wished there had been more pro-Israel representation in the featured voices.

“It would have been nice to have had at least one speaker representing the overwhelming majority of students and guests disgusted by the disruptors and hateful violators,” he wrote.

Ressa also referenced in her speech the “mysterious Harvard Corporation” and claimed this year’s graduates were “battle-tested” to take on issues such as “misinformation, surveillance, and facism [sic].”

Student speakers at commencements ripped Harvard for “punishing” freedom of speech such as denying graduation participation to several students disciplined for their pro-Gaza encampment.

Other students “rushed” the stage with signs reading “Harvard funds genocide,” according to Jewish Insider.

MORE: Faculty: Harvard should adopt ‘neutrality’ policy on controversial issues

IMAGE: Global Reporting Centre/X

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.