Harvard commencement speaker who compared Jews to Hitler praises pro-Hamas demonstrations

Nobel laureate Maria Ressa expressed support for pro-Hamas protests during her May 23 commencement speech at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In November, Ressa reportedly likened modern-day Israel to Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler.

Nobel laureate Maria Ressa expressed support for pro-Hamas protests during her May 23 commencement speech at Harvard University.

“I loved the speeches of the students today. They were incredible,” Ressa said, referring to the students who spoke ahead of her at the graduation ceremony.

One of the speeches was given by Harvard student Shruthi Kumar, who spoke out in favor of the recent anti-Israel protesters, saying that “this semester our freedom of speech and our expressions of solidarity became punishable.” Shruthi also recognized “the 13 undergraduates in the class of 2024 who will not graduate today.”

“I am deeply disappointed by the intolerance for freedom of speech and the right to civil disobedience on campus,” Kumar also said to the graduates.

[RELATED: House committee finds Harvard leadership showed ‘pattern of inaction’ in fighting anti-Semitism]

Ressa agreed with the sentiment expressed by Kumar, advocating for university administrations to permit “campus protests” to take place. 

“The campus protests are testing everyone in America,” Ressa continued. “Protests are healthy. They shouldn’t be violent. Protests give voice. They shouldn’t be silenced.”

The leader of Harvard Chabad, Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi, walked off the stage during the ceremony because he believed that Ressa’s speech contained anti-Semitic remarks. Zarchi also stated that he believed Harvard’s graduation ceremony was a “really vile program,” according to Forward.

In April, Harvard agreed to several demands of pro-Hamas encampment demonstrators to end their campus occupation. The Anti-Defamation League responded by stating the university was “absolving behavior that has fueled a hostile and threatening campus for Jewish students.”

This is not the first time that Ressa has been accused of promoting anti-Semitism. The Washington Free Beacon reported that Ressa made comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany in November.

[RELATED: Harvard faculty buck administrators, vote to allow disciplined anti-Israel campus occupiers to graduate]

The Free Beacon commissioned a translation from Tagalog to English of Ressa’s November 2023 remarks from the former executive director of the Commission on Filipino Language. “It is with great irony that the race that for centuries, suffered oppression, even genocide at the hands of Adolf Hitler, is the same race that is now depriving the Palestinians of this same dream,” Ressa wrote, according to the translation. 

“According to [sociologist Randy] David, ‘Yesterday’s oppressed have become today’s oppressors,’” she reportedly noted.

Ressa has also been criticized on similar grounds by members of Congress, such as Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).

Stefanik posted to X on May 3 about Ressa: “[Harvard] chose an antisemitic commencement speaker. The university has failed to stand up for Jewish students at every turn, revealing the depths of its moral delinquency.”

Campus Reform has contacted Harvard University for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.