Stanford student leader: Not anti-Semitic to claim Jews control media, economy

A member of Stanford University’s student senate argued that it’s not anti-Semitic to claim Jews control “the media, economy, government and other social institutions.”

Gabriel Knight, a junior, made the remark at an April 5 student senate meeting while addressing a proposed resolution on anti-Semitism, according to the Stanford Daily, the campus newspaper. Knight also said, “Questioning these potential power dynamics, I think, is not anti-Semitism. I think it’s a very valid discussion.”

He apologized later in the meeting after Jewish community leaders and a Jewish student accused him of anti-Semitism.

“It wasn’t right for me to say that Jewish people can’t be offended by that,’’ Knight 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.”

Knight’s remarks came during a debate over language in the proposed resolution, which offers guidelines for defining anti-Semitism and calls on the student government to oppose anti-Semitic activities and fund anti-discrimination education.

The resolution initially included “anti-Zionism” in its definition of anti-Semitism, a term removed in response to objections made at a meeting last week. Several speakers at the April 5 meeting objected to language linking “anti-Semitism to the denial of Israel’s right to exist.”

Another point of contention was a clause that labeled demonizing, delegitimizing and applying double standards to Israel as anti-Semitic, which the senate voted to delete, saying it would restrict “legitimate criticism of Israeli policy.”

The resolution was tabled so sponsors and supporters could assess whether to support it without the language that was cut.

The U.C. Board of Regents last month approved a set of Principles Against Intolerance that condemn anti-Semitism and include “anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism” as unacceptable. The principles apply to students and faculty at all 10 U.C. campuses. Stanford is not part of the U.C. system. — jta