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April 13, 2015 10:23 pm

Stanford’s Students of Color Coalition Accused of Antisemitism in Student Elections

avatar by David Daoud

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Stanford University's Students of Color Coalition is being accused of Anti-Semitism for line of questioning with a Jewish student, Molly Horwitz. PHOTO: The Stanford Review

A student leader at Stanford University, was asked by a campus group about how her Jewish faith would impact her actions regarding Israel in the Student Senate, prompting allegations of antisemitism and an Anti-Defamation League inquiry, a campus publication reported.

As part of her campaign for student senate, Molly Horwitz applied for as many student group endorsements as possible, since an endorsement from each group would effectively secure their members’ votes for her candidacy. The Students of Color Coalition (SOCC) endorsement is the most-sought after, due to its large size and vast influence, as well as the fact that it campaigns tirelessly for the candidates it endorses, according to the report.

During her interview with SOCC, Horwitz told The Stanford Review that one of the group’s leaders asked her, “Given your strong Jewish identity, how would you vote on divestment?” The question referred to divesting from Israel, an issue which was put to a vote and approved in the university’s Undergraduate Senate in February.

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When Horwitz asked for clarification, an SOCC member responded by alluding to her application to the student senate and how her Jewish identity would affect her decisions in the student body.

After the interview, Horwitz e-mailed the school’s Elections Commissioner, Mr. Sajjan Sri-Kumar, about the incident, who then forwarded the complaint to other school administration officials. She also contacted the Anti-Defamation League, which responded to her in a letter on March 18, and is reportedly launching an inquiry into the incident.

Additionally, on April 9, The Stanford Review sent a letter to the SOCC’s leadership, requesting disclosure of all notes taken during the SOCC interview process, under the Associated Students of Stanford University’s Constitution’s Freedom of Information clause, in order to verify Ms. Horwitz’s claims. If SOCC refuses to comply with the request, The Stanford Review is planning to file a Constitutional Council Case against SOCC’s member organizations today.

According to Brandon Camhi, writing for The Stanford Review, while the SOCC is fully entitled to select the candidates that it believes will advocate for its agenda, “it does not have license to judge candidates purely on the basis of their religious beliefs.”

A similar incident occurred at UCLA in early March, when Rachel Beyda, a second-year economics major, was to be confirmed to the student council’s Judicial Board. Similarly to Horwitz, Beyda was asked by a member of the Undergraduate Students Association Council, “given that you are a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community, how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view?” After Beyda ended the interview, most of the debate in the council centered on her Jewish faith and affiliations.

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  • Paul

    This all started with the redefinition of “Palestinian” that has become so chi-chi today. It is essentially a Middle Eastern version of “Aryan”.

    What makes this behaviour by SOCC, and related incidents, so disturbing is not that they happen, but, rather, that the people doing them don’t even have to blush. This kind of hate behaviour has become accepted.

  • Robert Yufe

    if a similar episode occurred at my Alma Mater, my annual donation would stop.

  • Sammy Eppel

    This is BDS at its best, the nazis prevented jews from learning or teaching at German universities. This is the same script, we may call it kristalncht XXI century. In this case, the discriminators are still in charge and Stanford will not act. Some American teaching institutions are making a pact with the devil.

  • David Fried

    I think there’s a larger issue here. In one sense it is legitimate to ask a candidate for the Senate how she will vote on divestment–a question before the Senate on which the SOCC has taken a position. Phrasing it in terms of “in view of your Jewish faith. . . ” is unfortunate, but doesn’t change the legitimacy of the question.

    The larger issue is–why is the issue of divestment before the student Senate in the first place? Why does the Senate have a foreign policy, and why is its foreign policy exclusively concerned with Israel?

    The BDS movement has been going at full steam now for 10 years, and it has had no meaningful successes at all. Israel doesn’t care if the Presbyterian Church divest from Caterpillar.

    But what if Israel isn’t the target? Every time the movement brings up the question of Israel before, say, the Association of American Studies, it is making further participation in the organization as uncomfortable as possible for the larger majority of Jews who support Israel. It is also calling into question, as at Stanford, their fitness to participate in the organization.

    In this respect, the BDS movement has enjoyed great and growing success. The best example is its driving the large majority of Jewish members out of the UCU–the British college teacher’s union–by a sustained and openly anti-Semitic campaign lasting many years. When those members charged the union with discrimination under British labor law, they lost decisively. In fact, the tribunal went out of its way to say that the charges of anti-Semitism were trumped up to stifle free speech and political debate within the union.

    So I would say that BDS is not incidentally or accidentally anti-Semitic. I think not Israel, but the Jews and their continued participation in civil society, are the principal target. Israel is just the wedge issue they use to achieve their goal.

  • clyde mann

    My answer would have been quite simple to the SOCC. I would have told them that I was fine with Boycott Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, as long as those same Boycott Divestment and Sanctions were applied to Syria, Egypt, Yemen, China and Every African Kleptocratic nation that applies abuses to their own populations. I would love to see how they would respond to that.

  • So many intelligent comments, you hardly need mine! But, a big, BUT, local Jewish organizations must become involved in these kinds of incidents in our universities. Please.

  • duPont

    If Stanford and the UC Universities do not take action to stop this type of activity, their reputation will be destroyed. Many of their structures and/or facilities have been donated by Jewish graduates. I think it is time for the Jewish student and graduate population to re-think their contribution to these anti-Semitic institutions until such time as the entire system rids itself of this behavior. Free speech on campus is one thing but it does not mean using religion as an excuse for rejection from student bodies. I am astounded that an institution that is supposed to encourage diversity allows discrimination to form its student body makeup. I am appalled and disgusted-particularly that a group of “Students of Color” would be religiously exclusive. Even if this Jewish student wouldn’t agree with their stance on divestment, she should be encouraged to exercise HER freedom of speech to say so! Hitler at Stanford and the UC campuses is alive, well and encouraged! Shame on you all!

  • Peter

    And if someone had a nazi background woulf the same question not be put to them? The underlying consideration is will she be unbaised in her decision making.

    • Michael

      What would have been your response and more importantly the response of the school if this was reversed and the Black student was questioned for possible bias or for that matter a Muslim student. You can be sure there would have been an outcry of racism or islamaphobia.

    • Leigh Halprin

      Peter, as i read your post, You miiss the point. A Nazi background suggests a specific philosophy and political agenda. Being Jewish is not a political organization , agenda, philosophy, or ideology.
      It is a religion. and ethnicity. Jews are not a monolithic group. They hold a diverse range of opinions and are of multiple political stripes. The notion that all Jews are the same and share a proIsrael view is incorrect and itself is a result of a racist stereotype.
      We do not assume that all Muslims will by sympathetic to Hamas or support terrorism.
      In this case, a woman’s suitability for a position is being challenged only because she is a Jew. The underlining assumption is that Jews can’t be unbiased. That my friend is discrimination on the basis of religion. And that stereotype has led to terrible atrocities.

    • Ira

      A Nazi background is political. This person was questioned about a political issue based on her RELIGION! Wake up, Peter, or are you already an anti-Semite?

      • Ira

        A Nazi background is political. The interviewers had no right to question her regarding her position on a political matter based on her religion. Wake up, Peter.

    • You miss the point. Was this question (religious affiliation) asked of every candidate that was screened? This same question was asked recently at a candidate interview at UCLA.

      • Larry Evans

        If they are asking every candidate about their religious affiliations, that makes it even worse.

        You realize that is patently illegal when interviewing someone for an actual job. So at best this is unsavory and unethical.

    • MO

      I doubt there is any person on the face of the earth that can call themselves “unbiased”! Did the SOCC ask Christian candidates if they were unbiased? Did they ask African Americans if they were unbiased? Did they ask male candidates how they felt about women or vice versa? We all hold biases (recognized or unrecognized) engendered by upbringing, life experience, etc. Clearly the person on the SOCC showed his/her bias against Israel and Jews and for the BDS movement…

    • Jeff Holman

      And you think the non-Jewish students are unbiased?

      They are entirely biased but because they all agree with their antisemitic views, that’s fine?

  • Cynthia

    It seems that history is unfortunately repeating itself. Instead of learning the lessons of the 20th Century with Hitler and his murder of over 20 million Jews, Catholics and Homosexuals, we are simply going backwards.
    It would be nice if the students actually would learn instead of being indoctrinated or having their position due to some law that makes it mandatory to have a quota. The schools of higher learning are failing the students miserably and teaching them lessons that have nothing to do with their Job specification or qualifications for the classes they take. Everything these days is Political and it is very sad because our forefathers gave their very lives to created this wonderful country and to make sure that there were tools in place to make it so. Heaven help us………..

  • Pearl

    Well, there you go, anti-Semitism has become fashionable.seems more people and organization are getting on the bandwagon!

  • RIVKA BRANDEIS

    ITS SEEMS THAT THOSE OF COLOR HAVE NO COLOR SENSE AT ALL AND SEEM TO BE ESTABLISHING A MOVEMENT OF HATRED AND AS THEY SAY….IF YOU DON’T LIKE STANFORD….’LEAVE’….WHO WOULD WANT TO RUB SHOULDERS WITH SUCH DEMEANING INSULTS OR WITH PEOPLE WHOSE COLOR WILL ALWAYS REMAIN THE STEPING STONES OF THE WORLD……THATS FOOT TRAFFIC….STOMPING GROUNDS AND EVIL BY DESIGN……LEAVING MAY EVEN HAVE THE RESPONSE OF CLOSING DOWN THESE BLUE NOSED EDIFICES AND SET UPON THE NOTION OF FRAUD AT ITS HIGHEST……COLOR WHAT A JOKE….THE ONLY COLOR IN THE WORLD IS THAT OF NATURE AND ITS BEAUTY AND IF YOU DON’T ENJOY THE ASPECT OF COLOR BY DESIGN THEN MAY YOU SHUT YOUR LIGHTS OUT WITH DIGNITY

  • Max Cohen

    If people are ever to overcome divisive distinctions, students such as all that participated in this appalling row, must understand that being human precedes color or religion. How about a Student Society for Human Being, the SSHB, dedicated to the best in all of us?

  • Lauren Goldman

    I’m guessing that a Muslim candidate would not have been subjected to the same line of questioning. The increasing hostility toward Jews in academia is reminiscent of a certain Central European country, mid-20th century. It is timely to have this article this week, since 27 Nisan is Wednesday, יוֹם הַשׁוֹאָה.

  • art

    Where are the Jewish politicians and “leaders”? How much longer will they remain silent as Anti Semitism marches forward? Where are the teachers who are supposed to be training our youth ?

  • The SOCC will not endorse her candidature as she is Jewish unless she unequivocally says that she supports the BDS which I assume is not the case. I would tell the SOCC that they clearly have their own biased agenda & that their vote was not required. It would be hypocritical to accept support from a group which is overtly anti Israel & subvertly anti-Semitic. Jews need to realise that mostly we are on our own. Go for it Molly & good luck

  • Fritz Kohlhaas

    SOCC students are whining intolerant imbeciles!

  • Leo Toystory

    If Jews hope to survive EVEN IN THE US they had better realize that it is sometimes necessary to secure justice without the relying on the legal system or on law enforcement.

  • William E. Eubank II

    Left wing bigotry at its best. I wonder how many major news sources will ignore this one.

  • SOCC’S behavior is transparently anti-Jewish and deplorable. Inadvertently, their hostility and line of questioning may give Jews a legitimate, but hitherto untried, weapon in defense of Israel advocacy against those who would deligitimize her: Zionism is a religious belief [among many other things], Jews can’t be discriminated against for professing their faith in Israel as Jewish State under prevailing canons of tolerance and freedom of speech on campus.

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