‘Hateful’ Anti-Israel Tweets of Undergraduate Senator Stir Controversy at Stanford
by Benjamin Kerstein
A candidate for reelection to the Stanford University Undergraduate Senate is facing criticism after a series of anti-Israel tweets she made in the past came to light.
In a May 15 Facebook post, the Stanford College Republicans (SCR) published screenshots of a number of tweets and retweets by Undergraduate Senate member Mia Bahr that expressed intense hatred toward Israel and its backers.
“If you still support Israel, you can choke, honestly,” said one.
Another said, “Some of these st*nford leftists suddenly forget their values when their white friend is pro-Israel.” She then appeared to compare being pro-Israel to being a rapist.
She also retweeted a tweet of an article about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that said, “Anyone who claims to be shocked and horrified by this but won’t support BDS is full of s**t.”
Another retweet simply read, “FCK ISRAEL, FREE PALESTINE.”
The SCR called Bahr’s tweets “hateful, violent, anti-Israel, antisemitic and racially charged.”
Elections for Stanford’s student government are next week. Moreover, we were saddened to discover that Mia Theresa Bahr,…
Posted by Stanford College Republicans on Thursday, May 14, 2020
The student newspaper The Stanford Daily reported that Bahr had responded to the controversy, expressing contrition to the campus Jewish community but blasting the SCR.
To the Jewish community, she said she regretted the tweets, but lamented what she called the “lack of context the screenshots SCR’s post came with.”
“I recognize Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people,” Bahr said.
Toward SCR, however, she hurled contempt, saying, “The organization [SCR] has called me antisemitic for my support of a peaceful two-state solution and the admonishment of police and military violence.”
“I will not be lectured on antisemitism by an organization that invited a speaker who openly retweeted a tweet saying #BurnTheJews,” she added, a reference to an event the SCR held with conservative writer Dinesh D’Souza.
SCR replied with a statement in The Stanford Review, saying, “Rather than coming together to address the scourge of antisemitism on campus, student leaders such as Bahr would rather smear our organization, as if shooting the messenger, whether it be SCR or anyone else, would do anything to solve the problem.”
“Unfortunately, Bahr’s apology is completely insufficient,” it added. “Rather than taking full responsibility for the antisemitism reflected in her statements, she dishonestly claimed she was taken out of context, as if any context could excuse telling pro-Israel students to ‘choke.’ Bahr baselessly smeared SCR and attempted to play the victim.”
Following Bahr’s apology, the Stanford Israel Association (SIA) issued a statement on its Facebook page saying of Bahr, “It takes courage to respond eloquently in the face of controversy.”
“Unfortunately, these hostile tweets not only represent Mià’s personal views, but they reflect a broader misperception of Israel that pervades our campus,” the group said.
However, the SIA said of Bahr, “although we have been disappointed by her words, SIA considers this incident to be an opportunity for growth.”
Nonetheless, it continued, Israel-hatred was “pervasive even on our campus and makes members of the Jewish community feel targeted and unsafe.”
We appreciate Mià Bahr’s response in the Jewish community chat; it takes courage to respond eloquently in the face of…
Posted by Stanford Israel Association – SIA on Monday, May 18, 2020
Stanford’s Jewish Student Association (JSA) co-presidents Gaby Goldberg and Avi Kaye told the Daily that the group was “deeply troubled” by Bahr’s tweets, but said she had been “receptive to our concerns” and praised her “willingness to engage in an open dialogue.”
Another group appeared to defend Bahr wholeheartedly, however, going even further than Bahr herself.
Olivia Szabo — Bahr’s former roommate and president of left-wing J Street U — asserted to the Daily that conservatives “label anything anti-Israel as antisemitic.”
“Mia’s beliefs on Israel are not the same ones I have, but they’re not antisemitic,” she noted.