Stanford Reports on Antisemitism and Anti-Muslim Bias Show Extent of Divide - The World News

Stanford Reports on Antisemitism and Anti-Muslim Bias Show Extent of Divide

Stanford released on Thursday dueling reports on campus culture — one on antisemitism and the other on anti-Muslim bias — that revealed mirroring images of campus life in recent months that may be impossible to reconcile.

One report found that antisemitism has been pervasive at the university in both overt and subtle ways, while the other stated that the school had stifled free speech among pro-Palestinian students and faculty. They were emblematic of the rift between Jewish and Muslim groups on campus, and showed that any kind of accord between the two groups and the university were distant.

The reports are among the first outcomes of universities’s reckonings with their handling of the flurry of protests against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, and pro-Israel counterprotests, over the past academic year.

As students across the nation marched on campus, set up encampments and, in some cases, got arrested, universities were met with the difficult challenge of balancing students’ right to free speech and campus safety. At Stanford, 13 pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested a few weeks ago after barricading themselves in the president’s office.

The report on antisemitism — by a university subcommittee on antisemitism and anti-Israeli bias, consisting of faculty, students and an alumnus — found that acts of antisemitism have ranged from an anonymous threat on social media against a student journalist who had written about antisemitism to what students said was intimidation in the classroom and residence halls.

“Antisemitism exists today on the Stanford campus in ways that are widespread and pernicious,” the group wrote in the report. “We learned of instances where antisemitism and anti-Israeli bias reached a level of social injury that deeply affected people’s lives.”

Jewish students complained of being “tokenized,” or viewed as interchangeable representatives of the Jewish people, the report said, adding that many of the students who were targeted were critical of the Israeli government. They were pressured to “openly denounce Israel and renounce any ties to it,” the report said, noting that this was the most common form of antisemitism that students experienced.

“The hostility directed toward them appeared to have little or nothing to do with their political views but rather with their Jewish or Israeli identities — or at least with their unwillingness to qualify or reject those identities through abject apology for having any connection, however ancestral, to the state of Israel,” the report said.

Specific examples of acts of antisemitism the report included were: a social media message calling for a student journalist to be “waterboarded with gas and set on fire” after he wrote an essay about antisemitism; an instructor who had told students that “only six million” Jews had died in the Holocaust, and compared it with the 12 million deaths in colonial Belgium; and mezuzahs, a religious talisman, being ripped from some students’ door frames.

The other report — by Stanford’s Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian communities committee — described what it called “a rupture of trust” between students, staff and faculty. “These communities have felt afraid for their safety, unseen and unheard by university leadership,” it said.

According to this report, Stanford recorded more than 50 instances of Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab bias between October 2023 and May 2024, including assault, battery and theft. That is a 900 percent increase over the two prior academic years, the report said.

Examples included: a threatening email from a Stanford alumnus to two undergraduate members of Students for Justice in Palestine with the subject line, “College Terror List — You Made It!”; a professor haranguing students at a pro-Palestinian protest, accusing them of doing “the work of Islamic jihad and Hamas”; and a printout of a Palestinian flag taken off a student’s door and ripped in half.

The report also discussed what it called “the Palestine exception” in the university’s commitment to free speech, saying that the university had limited protests and speech by pro-Palestinian students when it came to hanging flags and signs or organizing screenings of news events.

“For Muslim, Arab and Palestinian community members, Stanford’s decisions have diminished their sense of equality, inclusion and belonging on campus,” the report said. “These decisions have also sent a message to the whole university that Palestine is an exception to Stanford’s stated mission: a topic that one cannot study, discuss, or teach without potentially damaging one’s future.”

The reports were a product of task forces that were created in universities across the country after the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel, which set off protests and amplified divisions on college campuses.

The divisions appear to remain wide between the two groups at Stanford, a gulf the university president, Richard Saller, acknowledged.

“We are committed to a campus climate at Stanford that is welcoming to individuals of all backgrounds, faiths, nationalities, and points of view,” Mr. taller said in a statement. “The painful events of the last several months have made clear that we have much work to do in achieving that aspiration.”

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