BDS graffiti sign
BDS graffiti signMiriam Alster/Flash 90

Stereotypes asserting Jews "control the banks and the media" do not constitute anti-Semitism, a member of the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) Senate claimed this week.

During a hearing on renewing a resolution banning anti-Semitism, Stanford senior Gabriel Knight insisted that a clause defining negative Jewish stereotypes is "irresponsibly foraying into another politically contentious conversation."

"Questioning these potential power dynamics, I think, is not anti-Semitism," he said. "I think it’s a very valid discussion." 

He also maintained that the bill should include “some language to acknowledge Palestinians’ rights to self-determination." 

Knight backtracked twenty minutes later, the Stanford Review reported Tuesday, apologizing as "the Jewish community could be offended by that." Two fellow Senators, however - named as Elliot Kaufman and Matthew Wigler - have called for Knight to step down after making the remarks. 

Tensions remained high during the ASSU meeting, which sought to renew the bill to condemn “mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews […] or the power of Jews as a collective." The bill was instituted after a heated debate over the support for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel last year, which was ultimately rejected. 

Despite the bill's language - which is similar to standards set by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and other major organizations - student groups associated with the failed BDS bill, including the Students of Color Coalition (SOCC), immediately began to remove clauses from the definition of 'anti-Semitism,' including clauses against 'double standards' and 'demonization.' 

Several Jewish groups behind the bill threatened to remove their support following the proposed revision; tensions escalated further after students suggested the ADL was not equipped to educate the board for a yearly review over anti-Semitism. A discussion then ensued over "the intersection of 'white power' and 'Jewish power," the Review reports. 

Seven revisions were made to the bill, including erasing a clause that  “Zionism is defined as the belief in Israel’s right to exist and the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their ancestral homeland” and clauses barring the delegitimization of Israel. 

Arutz Sheva has reached out to the ADL and to the Stanford Hillel for comment. 

Matt Wanderman contributed to this report.