At a meeting of Stanford University’s Undergraduate Senate last night, a student senator said the idea that Jews control “the media, economy, government and other societal institutions” is “not anti-Semitism.”
According to the Stanford Daily, Gabriel Knight was questioning the language of a resolution to support the Stanford Jewish community against anti-Semitism. The bill was co-authored by Molly Horwitz, who, in a 2015 endorsement interview with the school’s Students of Color Coalition during her Senate campaign, was allegedly asked how her “strong Jewish identity” would lead her to vote on divestment.
Though the term “anti-Zionism” had been removed from the bill, clauses linking anti-Semitism to denial of Israel’s right to exist remained controversial one of which prompted Knight’s comment, according to the Daily:
“[The clause] says: Jews controlling the media, economy, government and other societal institutions’ [is] a feature of anti-Semitism that we theoretically shouldn’t challenge,” Knight said. “I think that that’s kind of irresponsible foraying into another politically contentious conversation. Questioning these potential power dynamics, I think, is not anti-Semitism. I think it’s a very valid discussion.”
Horwitz and other Jewish community leaders called Knight out for anti-Semitism, the Daily reports, and Knight apologized for saying that stereotype wasn’t anti-Semitic.
“It wasn’t right for me to say that Jewish people can’t be offended by that,” he said. “What I meant to say is that it’s still making a political statement, which is my problem with the clause it’s an important conversation we should be having.”
The bill also originally tackled the U.S. Department of State’s definition of anti-Semitism, controversial for its inclusion of the “three Ds” demonizing Israel, delegitimizing Israel, or applying double standards to Israel. This clause was removed from Stanford’s bill for fear that its language would restrict “legitimate criticism” of Israeli policy, which then led student group Cardinal for Israel to withdraw its support of the bill.
Miriam Pollock, who represented Cardinal for Israel, said the three Ds “are agreed upon by mainstream Jewish groups as anti-Semitic, including Hillel International.”
“Yes, there are Jews who are anti-Zionist,” she added, “but that’s not at all a mainstream Jewish position.”
There was also debate over whether language referring to the Jewish people’s right to self-determination discriminated against Palestinian self-determination, and whether the bill could restrict pro-Palestinian campus activism.
The final vote on the bill will take place at the Senate’s next meeting.