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Stanford Student Senate Passes Resolution Condemning Anti-Semitism

Stanford University’s student senate unanimously passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, including the demonization and delegitimization of Israel, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported last week.

The passage of the bill comes two weeks after an earlier resolution had been considered and tabled as opponents added numerous amendments to render the bill meaningless. During a debate over the earlier resolution, student senator Gabriel Knight argued that claiming that Jews control the media, economy, and government did not amount to anti-Semitism, and was “a very valid discussion.” Knight, who had been seeking re-election to the student senate, subsequently withdrew from consideration following the furor sparked by his remarks. Another student senator, Hattie Gawande, introduced a motion to censure Knight at last week’s meeting, which was passed at the beginning of the session.

“Although the measure took several weeks to win approval, the final version addresses a range of anti-Semitic sentiment including instances where Israel is used as a veneer to promote hatred of Jews,” said Seth Brysk, the Anti-Defamation League’s central Pacific regional director, in a statement on the resolution. Brysk also praised Gawande “for introducing the motion to censure Gabriel Knight for his ignorant assertions about Jewish power.”

The resolution, which draws on the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism, was sponsored by the major Jewish groups at Stanford, including Cardinal for Israel, Chabad at Stanford, Jewish Students Association, Alpha Epsilon Pi, and J Street U Stanford.

“Any non-anti-Semite could look at this and say this is reasonable … and when I say that, people who identify with the pro-Palestine movement are included,” said David Kahn, president of the Jewish Student Association at Stanford, who helped shape the wording of the resolution. “There must be a line between valid criticism and hate speech and this is a really good line to draw.”

Swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti were spray-painted on the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house at Stanford last year. Two weeks earlier, Molly Horwitz, then a candidate for Stanford’s student senate, was asked how her Jewish identity would impact her vote on divestment from Israel, in an incident that led to accusations of anti-Semitism. Horwitz, now chair of the senate’s Student Life Committee, authored and introduced the resolution on anti-Semitism.

For a more comprehensive overview of the politics of the Stanford student senate, as well as its vote in favor of Israel divestment last year, read Miriam Pollock’s How the Haters Handed Defeat to Students at Stanford, which was published in the April 2015 issue of The Tower Magazine.

[Photo: Christopher Schmidt / YouTube ]