Pro-Israel and Jewish students urge senators to not take stance on Israel-Palestine conflict

May 24, 2021, 10:54 p.m.

A contingent of pro-Israel and Jewish students encouraged Undergraduate Senators not to take a stance on the Israeli occupation of Palestine and called for a resolution to require antisemitism and implicit bias trainings during Monday’s meeting. 

Last week, Palestinian students and allies attended the Senate meeting and criticized an email that Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) executives sent about the occupation. Among other requests, students asked that the ASSU take a more explicit stance on the conflict and include a more number-based description of the asymmetrical violence taking place in the region.

Senator Joshua Jankelow ’24 said that the group of pro-Israel and Jewish students joined the meeting to “address some of the language used last week and the call for the ASSU to take a harder stance on the conflict.” He added that he and the students present wanted to share personal experiences that they believe the ASSU should take into consideration when making any statement involving Israel and Palestine. 

“The main thing that we all wanted to express … was that there are two sides to this conflict,” Jankelow said. “And there are students on this campus that are personally affected and invested on both sides.”

Emma Rashes ’21 M.S. ’22 said that many Jewish students are feeling “a great sense of stress and pain from the antisemitism that we’re seeing on campus” and that she and many other students were appreciative of the ASSU executive’s email. She added that the role of the ASSU “is not to take a stance on geopolitical conflicts,” but rather “to make campus a better and safer place for all students,” she said. 

Rashes said a more appropriate action would be for ASSU members to complete anti-semitism and implicit bias trainings, a suggestion which was echoed by many students in the Zoom chat. The Senate passed a bill that mandates a yearly anti-semitism training in 2016 and reaffirmed this commitment in a bill passed in 2019. Senator Sarah Saboorian ’22 said a training session is not logistically feasible within the next two weeks, but that it could happen in the fall.

Later in the meeting, senators elected Darryl Thompson ’23 as the Senate’s deputy chair, Marion Santo ’23 as the Faculty Senate representative, Kamau Kwasi MuseMorris ’24 as Senate treasurer, Amira Dehmani ’24 as parliamentarian and Gabby Crooks ’23 as communications director. They also elected Jaden Morgan ’24 as the Appropriations Committee chair; the rest of the committee is made up of Crooks, MuseMorris, Alain Perez ’23, Michaela Phan ’23, Cayla Withers ’24 and Nikhil Lyles ’24.

ASSU Executive Chief of Staff Wunmi Akinlemibola ’21 M.S. ’22 said that she and Christian Giadolor ’21 M.A. ’22 are in the process of choosing a new ASSU vice president following Cricket Bidleman’s ’21 M.A. ’22 recent resignation. She also added that ASSU Cabinet members will be selected by Monday. In addition, Akinlemibola presented the results of April’s ASSU Greek Life Survey, which found that about 60% of students are in favor of abolishing Greek life or unhousing the majority of Greek organizations. She said ASSU Executives gave this recommendation to Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole last week. 

Senators unanimously passed a resolution to congratulate former ASSU President Vianna Vo ’21 and former vice president Christopher Middleton ’16 JD ’21 on completing their term. They also unanimously passed the COVID Summer Funding Act, which makes provisions to fund voluntary student organizations during the summer quarter. Senators Dehmani and Jankelow were selected as members of the ASSU Constitutional Review Committee, which is tasked with reviewing the body’s governing documents.

This article’s headline has been updated to more accurately reflect the statements of the students who spoke at the meeting. This article has also been updated to reflect that the Senate is required to go through anti-semitism training per pre-existing legislation.

Malaysia Atwater '23 is a senior staff writer and former Vol. 260/261 managing editor in the News section. She is a political science major from Centennial, Colorado, and she enjoys dancing and re-watching Grey's Anatomy in her free time. Contact her at matwater 'at'

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