Stanford senate defeats bill for Palestinian alum

The Associated Students of Stanford University’s undergraduate senate last week narrowly defeated a bill that opponents viewed as a veiled condemnation of Israel.

The bill concerned the detention of Fadi Quran, a 2010 Stanford graduate and Palestinian political activist in Ramallah. Israeli security forces arrested him on Feb. 24 for allegedly striking an Israeli soldier during a protest in Hebron.

“Resolution to Support the Safety and Security of Fadi Quran” initially had language critical of Israel and urged Stanford’s provost to issue a public statement on the matter.

“I felt the original bill crossed a line,” said Alon Elhanan, a Stanford sophomore and student senator. “It was full of incriminating language against Israel. The senate did not have a problem expressing support for [Quran’s] well-being as an alum, but making a broader statement about the legal system in Israel or requiring the university to issue a statement made many uncomfortable.”

The bill’s language underwent modifications during a contentious three-hour debate on Feb. 28. Ultimately, the bill failed when it could not muster the required eight votes for passage. Seven voted for the bill, four against, with two abstentions.

“There were a lot of tensions in the room,” said Janani Ramachandran, one of the bill’s sponsors. “It was definitely a very heated and passionate debate.”

In an attempt to defuse some of the heat, Hillel at Stanford hosted an interfaith Shabbat on March 2. According to Nadav Savaia, Hillel’s Israeli emissary, more than 75 Arab, Israeli, Muslim and Jewish students attended. “They stayed at Hillel until after midnight,” he noted in an email, “discussing their different points of views, sharing personal stories, learning about the history of the region and mostly listening to each other.”

The day after the bill’s defeat, Quran was freed. He is now home with his family in the West Bank, though he may later be charged with a crime. Sponsors have no plans to reintroduce the bill.

Elhanan, who ultimately voted for the bill in its modified form, said that while some universities are hotbeds of anti-Israel activity, the Stanford campus has been relatively quiet.

“In general, the student body here is apathetic,” Elhanan said. “Many Stanford students are incredibly busy, with a lot to worry about. But for the small number of students, this is their

No. 1 issue. There has been an [Israel] divestment campaign here for six years, which has made no headway.” — dan pine

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.