The student government at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills unanimously passed a resolution on Oct. 22 that adopts the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism.
According to a database updated by the Amcha Initiative, a Santa Cruz-based nonprofit that investigates antisemitism on college campuses, just 10 student governments around the world have adopted the IHRA definition.
Spearheaded by Hillel of Silicon Valley and drafted by Ori Nirpaz, a student senator, the resolution states that Foothill’s “distinct and significant” Jewish community does not have sufficient protections as a minority group on campus. With antisemitism on the rise across the country, according to the Anti-Defamation League, adopting the IHRA definition gives the Foothill student government a framework that will help it to more easily identify instances of antisemitism.
The student resolution also calls on the community college’s administration to consider adopting the definition for the entire campus.
“Foothill College has proven itself to be a true ally by passing the bill, and I believe that other schools will follow suit in the quest to defend and protect the Jewish community,” Nirpaz said in a statement. The measure passed in a 28-0 vote of the Associated Students.
Nirpaz also leads the Foothill branch of Students Supporting Israel, which has chapters around the world.
“This resolution will help by making it clear what is antisemitic and what is not,” SSI president Ilan Sinelnikov said. “There is classic antisemitism, but there is also modern antisemitism, and this resolution leaves no room for debate on what hurts the Jewish people. This resolution was passed to prevent cases in the future and to be proactive.”
According to Sinelnikov, Foothill College has about 170 Jewish students among its student body of more than 15,000.
Neither student government president Abhiraj Muhar nor the college responded to requests for comment.
The IHRA is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1998 by Sweden’s former prime minister Göran Persson. It works to “strengthen, advance, and promote Holocaust education, remembrance, and research worldwide,” according to its website. Some critics say the definition stifles debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.