New anti-Semitism measure heading to Stanford student senate

Jewish student organizations at Stanford are regrouping after a proposed resolution on anti-Semitism was heavily altered by the student senate and tabled at a meeting on April 5.

A revised version of the resolution will be presented to the undergraduate student group on Tuesday, April 19.

“They didn’t want any mention of Zionism within the bill,” said student senator Molly Horwitz, who authored the resolution, which was co-sponsored by several campus Jewish student groups.

About 100 people attended a rally against anti-Semitism at Stanford on April 7. photo/isaac winer

Language in the initial measure relied on the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism, including the “three d’s”: demonizing Israel, delegitimizing Israel and applying double standards. The measure also included “anti-Zionism” in its definition of anti-Semitism.

But at the April 5 student senate meeting, a series of amendments removed any reference to Zionism and deleted the clause on delegitimization from the resolution. Also, at the urging of senator Gabriel Knight, language was inserted to affirm that Jewish self-determination “need not conflict with the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.”

While Horwitz said she believes the amended resolution would have been approved by the senate, the sponsoring Jewish organizations asked that it be tabled to give them time to discuss whether they still supported it.

Matthew Wigler, a co-sponsor, said, “I’m not prepared to support the bill as long as it continues to have a clause about Palestinians and I’m not going to support it without the three d’s.”

Wigler, 19, quickly organized a rally on campus on April 7. The event drew an estimated 100 people and featured both Jewish and non-Jewish speakers. Jewish Students Association president David Kahn spoke first, noting that the event was “not about a specific person or words said by a specific person,” but rather to “address the serious concerns of the Jewish students at Stanford, that anti-Semitism on campus exists in implicit and explicit forms, and goes unchallenged,” the Stanford Daily reported. 

The rally “positively addressed the problem of anti-Semitism as well as all the other forms of hate and intolerance that intersect with it,” Wigler told J.

The Resolution to Recognize and Reaffirm the Fight Against Anti-Semitism was co-sponsored by Cardinal for Israel, the Jewish Students Association, the Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi and

J Street U Stanford.

Horwitz said she is working on rewriting the resolution with input from the sponsors and “getting everyone to a place where they can actually advocate for it together.”

At the April 5 meeting, Knight had also argued that it was “not anti-Semitism” to claim Jews control “the media, economy, government and other social institutions.”

He apologized in an April 7 “letter to the Stanford community,” published in the Stanford Daily student newspaper, after Jewish community leaders and a Jewish student accused him of anti-Semitism, and he subsequently dropped his bid for re-election.

Seth Brysk, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League Central Pacific office in San Francisco, said that in fact such claims are anti-Semitic. “The trope of Jewish control or Jewish power [has] formed the basis for violence and anti-Semitism … for centuries,” he told J.

Wigler said Knight’s comments reinforced the need for a bill condemning anti-Semitism at Stanford, and said the Palo Alto campus had already felt hostile to him as a Jewish student. He added that many of his peers did not see a problem with what Knight had said.

“I would tell people that it was hurtful and people would tell me, ‘That’s not anti-Semitic, that’s true. Jews do control everything,’ ” Wigler said.

In a statement published April 8 in the Stanford Daily, Knight, a junior, said, “I never intended to be hurtful and am saddened by and apologize for the fact that I was. Nevertheless, I hope that this week’s events and my decision to end my campaign do not encourage or substantiate threats to free discussion.”

Though he pulled out of the race, Knight’s name remained on the ballot for voting April 7-9. Results were posted April 11: While Knight was not elected, he received 453 votes — over 100 more than Wigler, who was also running for a spot in the senate.

JTA contributed to this report.

Arno Rosenfeld
Arno Rosenfeld

Arno Rosenfeld is a reporter at the Forward. He is a former J. intern and has worked as a correspondent for JTA and The Times of Israel.