OpinionSchools & Higher Education

Why is Stanford’s student paper censoring Jewish perspectives?

Jewish concerns about racism at the university are being silenced.

Bing Wing of the Cecil H. Green Library, Stanford University, in Palo Alto, Calif. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Bing Wing of the Cecil H. Green Library, Stanford University, in Palo Alto, Calif. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Lily Rashes
Lily Rashes is a B.A. candidate in public policy with a concentration in international and national security policy at Stanford University.

Nearly three weeks ago, I set about writing a letter to the editor of The Stanford Daily as a Jewish student severely disappointed with the university’s response to the Israel-Hamas war and subsequent antisemitism on campus. The response from the Daily, unfortunately, only substantiated my concerns: The Stanford community does not care equally for all its students. The Daily refused to publish my letter unless I adulterated my opinion. As a matter of transparency, I will publish a link to the final draft of my letter to the editor, which the Daily assured me would be published as part of its Sunday Edition on Oct. 22, along with documentation of my communication with the Daily staff. I have removed the names as a matter of courtesy.

When I expressed concern about the Stanford administration “referring to a vague conflict between a sovereign state and one that lives only in abstraction” and insisted that “the Jewish people accepted the boundaries and statehood offered by UNGA Resolution 181 in 1948, while Palestinian leaders rejected the proposal of statehood and turned to violence,” I was challenged by a Daily editor on the validity of these facts, despite providing evidence from the U.S. Department of State.

The Daily further refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of my claim that “The State of Israel is a nation-state, while Palestine is an imprecise name appropriated from the colonial rule of Judea from the Roman Empire to the British Mandate.” The Daily, which is funded by student activities fees, refused to publish my concerns that the Stanford administration’s “emails did not properly reflect the difference between the wanton slaughter and kidnapping of innocents by terrorists and a defensive war, equating the two as ‘the devastating crisis in Israel and Palestine.’” The Daily editors cited “concerns with clarity of argument” regarding my “claims on Palestine”—i.e., its lack of existence, in their refusal to publish my opinion.

In my letter, I expressed concern that the university has displayed a reticence to acknowledge antisemitism on campus. I specifically cited the example where Jewish students were harassed and publicly embarrassed in class, yet the student community was told that the University “received a report of a class in which a non-faculty instructor is reported to have addressed the Middle East conflict in a manner that called out individual students in class based on their backgrounds and identities.” This email made it unclear if the victims of this violation of basic academic norms and decency were Jewish or Muslim, especially given that the same email provided specific examples of anti-Muslim actions on campus while merely stating that some Jewish community members are “concerned about rising antisemitism.” The Daily later published an article supporting the lecturer who humiliated Jewish and Israeli students on the basis of their ethnicity, perhaps the one acceptable form of racism at Stanford, reinforcing my claim “that Jews on Stanford’s campus are not ‘concerned about rising antisemitism,’ they are victims of it.”

I wrote in my letter that “The University’s refusal to unequivocally and singularly acknowledge the presence of antisemitism on campus is alarming,” but the behavior of my peers at the Daily is particularly hurtful. While Jewish student perspectives have been censored and silenced, the Daily staff has published numerous pro-Palestinian perspectives. The articles that the Daily has published since Tuesday, Oct. 17, when they first said that they would publish my piece, include “Students stage sit-in to demand University action on Palestine,” “Hundreds call for University action in protest for Palestine,” “Stanford suspended a lecturer to investigate identity-based targeting. Here’s what students say happened,” and “Assault reported by Palestinian student after taking down posters of kidnapped Israelis.” These articles lauded student groups that have threatened to dox Zionist students, undermined Jewish students’ legitimate feelings of concern and ostracization, and promoted uncorroborated claims by a Palestinian student that they were assaulted by an Israeli student. It is difficult to comprehend how the Daily editors decided that refusing to publish my letter, which is supported by academic and U.S. government sources, while publishing articles by their staff based on hearsay and hateful ideology, constitutes balanced and factual journalism.

I began the final paragraph of my letter to the editor by writing, “As the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, I have been raised under the echoes of my great-grandmother’s cautionary words, ‘You will always be a visitor.’” I have never felt this more keenly than when the Daily failed to live up to its promise to publish my letter. The Daily’s refusal to share my story only served to validate my closing reflection that “Stanford’s actions, reminiscent of European academia turning its back on Jewish scholars in the 1920s and 1930s, have made me realize that I am not a true member of the Stanford community but rather a visitor on its campus, with rights, protections, and assurances different than those enjoyed by my peers.” While I shared my aspiration with the Daily that my “letter might be a clarion call for Stanford to change its course and protect all of its students,” recent events have proven that I was far too naive to hope that equal treatment might be possible in the current environment.

Images of my letter and my correspondence with The Stanford Daily’s staff appear below:

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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