The student government at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills called on the administration to reject the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism; last October it was one of the few student governments in the world to adopt it. (Photo/File)
The student government at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills called on the administration to reject the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism; last October it was one of the few student governments in the world to adopt it. (Photo/File)

Three South Bay colleges pass resolutions condemning Israel

Student governments at two community colleges and one university in the South Bay have passed resolutions that strongly condemn Israel’s actions during the recent 11-day conflict with Hamas and call on their administrations to respond.

On May 20, the same day a cease-fire was announced, Foothill College in Los Altos Hills and Santa Clara University passed identical measures titled “Resolution in Solidarity with Palestinians.” At De Anza College in Cupertino, a similar resolution was passed on May 26 titled “Resolution Acknowledging the Palestinian Lives Lost During the Attacks Against Humanity.”

The document adopted by Foothill and Santa Clara says their student governments are “appalled” by “ongoing attacks against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and occupied Palestinian Territories by the Israeli armed forces,” noting that “these attacks stem from a system of settler colonialist violence.”

The resolution includes a demand that their administrations “reject” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, “due to its documented history as a source of leverage for silencing Palestinian voices.” Foothill College’s Associated Students became one of only a handful of student governments around the world to adopt the IHRA definition last October.

The resolution also calls for divestment from “all companies that profit from and support Israel’s Apartheid regime” and references a list of such companies created by Students for Justice in Palestine. SJP is an activist movement present on campuses across North American that promotes boycotts against Israel.

It’s the latest slate of colleges in the region to adopt such resolutions; in November, San Francisco State University’s Associated Students approved a resolution that called for SFSU to boycott businesses in Israeli settlements. The university’s president later came out against the legislation.

The De Anza resolution is longer than the others and denounces “the Israeli Government for unnecessary full-force aggression against the Palestinian civilians in Gaza.” It calls on the administration to support “Palestinian students and stand in solidarity with them and their families and relatives in Palestine” and asks the college to provide “factual information and history that concerns the Israeli occupation of Palestine.” It does not ask for divestment from Israel.

Every one of those meetings, after you leave, you are bruised. For Jewish students, it comes to a point where we want to stand proud and tall [for] being Jewish. But it takes a toll.

While the De Anza resolution makes mention of the casualties on both sides of the conflict, the Foothill and Santa Clara resolutions note only losses on the Palestinian side.

The vote at Foothill was 16 in favor with 3 abstentions. At De Anza, 19 were in favor with one abstention and one opposed; the lone “no” vote was cast by student government president Katelyn Pan. She declined to comment out of concern for her “safety and well being as a current college student.” (Santa Clara University’s student government has not posted its vote count as of Friday.)

The passage of the resolutions drew condemnation from the local Hillel of Silicon Valley. Executive director Sarita Bronstein, who helped organize an opposition effort. She described the resolutions as “anti-Israel” and “one-sided” in an interview with J. She attended the online deliberations regarding the resolutions, along with some Jewish students.

“Every one of those meetings, after you leave, you are bruised,” she said. “For Jewish students, it comes to a point where we want to stand proud and tall [for] being Jewish. But it takes a toll.”

At De Anza, Bronstein and others proposed an alternate measure, “Resolution in Solidarity with Those Who Have Suffered from the Recent Israel-Palestine Conflict.” It said, in part, that the student government “recognizes the pain and suffering experienced by all student communities who have been affected by the conflict between Hamas — a recognized terrorist organization — and Israel, and honors the fact that each and every student on campus deserves to be seen, heard, respected, and protected by the University and their peers.”

The alternate resolution also described the conflict as “complicated” and affirmed a “desire for a long-lasting peace” where two democratic nations could one day coexist. However, according to Bronstein, the De Anza student government “had no interest and put it down.”

J. reached out to the student presidents at Foothill and Santa Clara, but neither elected to comment. Hiwad Haider, president of Santa Clara’s Associated Student Government and a signatory on the resolution, said “the contents of the resolution should suffice” as comment.

The resolutions come on the heels of two workplace discrimination complaints made by Jewish therapists at Stanford, who allege that they faced “severe and persistent” antisemitic harassment from colleagues during diversity trainings.

Gabriel Greschler

Gabriel Greschler is a staff writer at J. You can reach him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @ggreschler.