US/World News

‘I’ll work everyday to ensure Jewish students are protected,’ Stefanik says

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), chair of the House Republican Conference, received the Zionist Organization of America’s Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Defender of Israel Award at its “Heroes of Israel” gala on Sunday in Davie, Fla.

Morton Klein, national president of the ZOA, told JNS that Adelson said in January that she was impressed with Stefanik’s “relentless” questioning of the presidents of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania at a House committee hearing on Dec. 5.

Adelson noted that Stefanik didn’t let the three presidents—the latter two of whom have since stepped down—“get away with their offensive, bigoted and almost antisemitic answers,” Klein told JNS.

“She was stating publicly from a congresswoman’s podium that they should all resign,” he said. “She not only questioned them and criticized them for their answer, she said ‘You should all resign.’”

Klein was struck by “how strong and relentless she was” and called Stefanik “one of the most articulate congresspeople around.” When he and Adelson discussed the award, she told him, “If you give it to her, Mort, I’m going to come in person and hand it to her.” 

Adelson made good on her plan and cut short a trip to Israel to attend the gala. There, she presented the award named for her and her late husband to Stefanik.

“I recognized immediately that this is a young woman, very young, with the mettle of generations past, the vision to spot injustice and the courage to call it out, the ability to rise to the moral challenges of a fast-changing world,” Adelson said at the event.

She added that the congresswoman would have embodied her late husband’s favorite saying: “Stand up for what you believe in, even if you stand up alone.”

Stefanik thanked Adelson and the ZOA from the podium.

Adelson Defender of Israel Award on March 17, 2024. Credit: Courtesy.

“Our most precious ally Israel and the Jewish people are in need of crucial support from the grassroots level all the way up to the highest levels of government,” she said at the gala. She noted U.S. President Joe Biden’s and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s “unconscionable actions and words that undermine the Israeli war effort.”

“The problem was never just about three university presidents or even these three universities,” Stefanik said of the House hearing. “It is a vile pervasive rot in American higher education,” adding that “replacing the wallpaper is not enough when there is a deep rot within the walls.”

Stefanik told JNS that she was honored to receive the award. “I am committed to ensuring our most precious ally, Israel, has the resources needed to complete its imperative military mission to safeguard not only Israel’s right to exist but also the rights of Jewish people everywhere,” she said. 

“As a senior member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, I am leading the fight against the pervasive rot of antisemitism that has destroyed the so-called ‘elite’ higher-education institutions in America,” Stefanik added. “I will not stop until the sources of this antisemitic hate are exposed and held accountable, and I will work every day to ensure Jewish students are protected.”

Klein told JNS that at least as far as ZOA supporters are concerned, Stefanik’s future appears bright.

“I can tell you that many of our major donors at ZOA very much are pushing Trump to make her the vice president,” he said.

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