Molly Horwitz says Students of Color Coalition asked: “Given your Jewish identity, how would you vote on divestment?”
We were one of the first to report how a candidate for the UCLA Judicial Board was questioned about being Jewish. The supposed logic of the questioning was that her affiliation with Jewish groups on campus might render her unfit because anti-Israel divestment issues may come before the Board.
A similar situation is reported by The Stanford Review, in which candidate Molly Horwitz alleges she was questioned about her Jewishness by the Students of Color Coalition (SOCC), from which she was seeking an endorsement:
For many candidates, the Students of Color Coalition (SOCC) endorsement is the most sought-after due to its large size and impressive influence. SOCC is an umbrella group for six student organizations — listed at the end of this article — and works assiduously for its chosen candidates. After filling out an endorsement application, Ms. Horwitz was one of a limited number of candidates selected to interview for the SOCC endorsement.
On Friday, March 13, 2015, Ms. Horwitz arrived at the basement of the Native American Community Center for her interview. Accounts of what transpired during the interview vary and, without any recording of the interview, no single version can be verified.
Ms. Horwitz told The Stanford Review that one of SOCC’s leaders asked her, “Given your strong Jewish identity, how would you vote on divestment?” In February, the Undergraduate Senate approved a controversial resolution calling on Stanford to divest from companies aiding Israel’s “occupation” of the West Bank. Ms. Horwitz explained how she asked for clarification, and the SOCC member subsequently alluded to Ms. Horwitz’s application and asked how her strong Jewish identity would affect her decision in the Senate. In her endorsement application (view a screenshot or read a PDF), Ms. Horwitz repeatedly referenced her Jewish identity and included quotations such as the following:
“I identify as a proud South American and as a Jew”
“I felt like I was not enough for the Latino community and further embraced my Jewish identity”
“I found many parallels between the oppression of the Jews in Egypt and oppression of communities of color in the United States”
Ms. Horwitz told The Review that she then expressed disapproval that the Senate voted for divestment, but reiterated both her belief in the Senate’s democratic system and her hope for a peaceful Middle East.
The lack of audio may make it harder to prove, but according to The Stanford Reviews, Horwitz says students at SOCC were taking notes, which are being sought.
Horwitz is from Milwaukee, but was born in Asuncion, Paraguay. She is a member of Stanford’s rowing team.
The Stanford Review linked to this initial complaint from Horwitz about her treatment:
The Stanford Review article goes through its troubles getting a substantive response from the SOCC to get its side of the story.
My email to Horwitz has not yet been returned. We will update as more information becomes available.
If Horwitz’s account is accurate, it is not surprising. As we have documented in the UCLA situation, keeping Jewish and/or pro-Israel students out of student government is a deliberate tactic of the anti-Israel campus movement.
Stanford has seen battles over divestment, with a recent student government referendum passing in a surprise vote after it had failed the week earlier.
Stanford students also were involved in hijacking the #BlackLivesMatters protest on the San Mateo Bridge, which resulted in a massive traffic jam and accidents as a Palestinian flag was draped across the bridge roadway at its highest span. Stanford is also home to one of the most outspoken BDS faculty supporters — who was proud that his students were involved in the San Mateo Bridge protest — David Palumbo Liu.
Ironically, Horwitz’s campaign slogan is “Stand Up To Stigma”.
UPDATE 3:40 p.m.: After publication, I received the following statement from Horwitz:
“I am running for the student senate at Stanford. Candidates can apply for endorsements from various student groups. I applied for the endorsement of the Students of Color Coalition (SOCC), which has quite a large influence on campus. At my interview, SOCC asked, “Given your strong Jewish identity, how would you handle divestment?” I asked for clarification of the question because I wasn’t sure that the interviewer knew the significance of what she was asking. After I questioned why my Jewish identity was relevant, she scrambled and referenced my application, in which I stated that I was very connected to my Jewish heritage.
I was deeply saddened to see my fellow student leaders unapologetically resort to anti-Semitism. I am running for the Stanford Undergraduate Senate in order to help foster an inclusive and welcoming environment at Stanford. I am upset that SOCC, a group which purports to encourage such an inclusive environment, instead engaged in anti-Semitism. This event has highlighted for me the importance of increasing education on anti-Semitism and the various ways in which it can manifest. It is my hope that the Stanford community can come together, reject this intolerance, and envision a future on campus in which all students, regardless of their religious beliefs, are welcomed and embraced.”
UPDATE 4-14-2015 – Horwitz wrote a column in The Stanford Daily, If I am not for myself, who will be for me?, reiterating her account of events. SOCC also had a column attacking The Stanford Review (a conservative newspaper) which originally reported the incident, and also denying Hurwitz’s accusation, Confronting baseless allegations: The SOCC endorsement process.
I emailed Hurwitz about the denial. Here is my question and her answer:
Q. What is your response to this sentence in their column: “At no point was the question framed in the context of religious identification” ?
A. This is blatantly false. The question asked me, word for word, “given your strong Jewish identity, how would you handle divestment?” SOCC has clearly realized they made a mistake, but rather than admitting that and apologizing so we can work toward coming together, they are denying wrongdoing. The question was clearly framed in the context of religious identification.
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