Stanford University committee releases report on ‘widespread and pervasive’ campus antisemitism

‘The university’s silence suggests that Jews don’t count; the university leadership is cowardly,’ an unnamed Stanford faculty member explained.

By Corey Walker, The Algemeiner

Stanford University in California has found itself embroiled in controversy after a university-commissioned task force revealed widespread antisemitism on campus following Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

The Subcommittee on Antisemitism and Anti-Israeli Bias published a 148-page report on Thursday detailing a toxic environment for Jewish and Israeli students at the elite university.

The 12-member committee argued that Jewish and Israeli students at Stanford have endured exclusion and harassment on the Palo Alto campus since October.

“Some of this bias is expressed in overt and occasionally shocking ways,” the report read, “but often it is wrapped in layers of subtlety and implication, one or two steps away from blatant hate speech.”

In several instances, the degree of antisemitism was so overwhelming that Jewish students decided to leave their residence halls.

The report found that some Stanford Jews had their mezuzahs — small parchment scrolls containing Hebrew verses from the Torah that members of the Jewish community fix to their doorposts — ripped down from their doors. Others claimed to find swastikas scribbled on their doors.

Jewish students also reported having their residences vandalized with the phrases “Free Palestine” or “F—k Zionism.”

In some cases, residential assistants (RAs) posted virulently antisemitic and anti-Israel content on their social media pages, fostering a “culture of fear and suppression” for Jewish students, according to the report.

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Some RAs have gone as far as to encourage students to participate in anti-Israel protests and encampments on campus.

Stanford faculty and staff have sounded alarms over the allegedly rampant and unchecked antisemitic rhetoric and behaviors on campus.

Though Stanford faculty have overwhelmingly expressed support for the free speech rights of anti-Israel protesters, many have lamented the ease with which some Stanford community members spew viciously antisemitic rhetoric on campus.

One faculty member alleged in the report that a Stanford professor uses the word “Zionist” as a euphemism for Israelis, an act he claims should constitute “hate speech.”

Israeli and Jewish faculty also reported a sense of “alienation” at the university in the months following Oct. 7.

An unnamed Israeli professor stated that none of his colleagues reached out to share condolences after the Hamas terrorist attacks, in which 1,200 people were murdered and over 250 taken hostage during the Palestinian terrorist group’s rampage through southern Israel.

The same professor said that the unchecked pro-Hamas demonstrations on campus have left Jews and Israelis feeling rattled and unsafe.

“I was happy living here before Oct. 7. I knew there were antisemites and there were people who hated Israel, but it was striking how there were banners celebrating Oct. 7 on campus,” an unnamed faculty member stated.

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For several weeks beginning in April, anti-Israel activists erected a “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” on campus, refusing to leave unless the school condemned and boycotted the Jewish state.

While the school declined to negotiate terms with the demonstrators, Jewish Stanford faculty assert that the university’s administration has been “cowardly” in its response to the antisemitic campus climate.

“The university’s silence suggests that Jews don’t count; the university leadership is cowardly,” an unnamed Stanford faculty member explained.

“The university should take a stand, articulate its values, and enforce them in a consistent manner regardless of who it’s about”

The report detailed many complaints about the structure of Stanford’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

University affiliates lamented that Jews have been mostly excluded from these initiatives, arguing that Jewish and Israeli students and faculty are among the most marginalized on campus.

The committee suggested that Stanford consider removing DEI programs, insisting that they “tend to propagate oversimplified histories and promulgate ideologies about social justice without subjecting them to the critical inquiry that is a core aspect of a university education.”

Matthew Wigler, co-president of the Stanford Jewish Law Students Association, said that antisemitism was “already a deeply rooted problem” on campus for years prior to Oct. 7.

“I will never forget how during my first year at Stanford in Spring 2016, when a coalition of Jewish student groups tried to address the toxic antisemitism of the time with a student government resolution, a student senator dismissed the issue and suggested Jews control the media, government, and economy,” Wigler told The Algemeiner.

Wigler explained that antisemitism has become much more “widespread and pervasive” on campus following the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel.

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“Now, eight years later, in 2024, when Stanford Jewish students gathered to address antisemitism at a town hall in the same place, we had other students yelling at us outside the event to ‘Go back to Brooklyn!’ while simultaneously shouting that antisemitism isn’t real and we need to stop ‘playing the victim,’” Wigler added.

Stanford President Richard Saller assembled the Subcommittee on Antisemitism and Anti-Israeli Bias in November amid backlash over widespread anti-Jewish incidents on campus.

Less than a week removed from the Oct. 7 attacks, a Stanford teacher reportedly forced Jewish students to stand in a corner and told them the action was analogical to the Palestinian experience.

Stanford sophomore Theo Baker published a long-form piece in The Atlantic alleging that several campus parties forced students to say “F—k Israel” or “Free Palestine” to gain entry.

However, Stanford has recently taken more forceful action to quell antisemitism on campus.

Several anti-Zionist protesters were handed felony burglary charges earlier this month for occupying Saller’s office and refusing to leave.

Stanford announced that the demonstrators would be immediately suspended and, if any were seniors, barred from graduating and receiving their degrees.