Student Association Senate decisions serve as attack on Jewish students

Noah Levin, a freshman majoring in international affairs, is a member of the political affairs committee of GW for Israel.

The Student Association has taken a step backward. They have decided to turn a blind eye to anti-Semitism. What should’ve been a unanimous vote to censure Brady Forrest, G-at-Large, the senator accused of anti-Semitism by numerous students, ended up proving to Jewish students that they’re not equal to their peers at GW.

If the Student Association truly wanted to show that they were against anti-Semitism, Forrest would’ve been removed from office immediately after the story broke. Perhaps, the time it took for this vote to occur should’ve hinted at the values of SA senators. Yet, somehow I’m shocked. Perhaps I had too much faith in human decency and respect. That was my mistake.

Six senators voted against censuring Forrest and four abstained. Make no mistake, abstention is as much a vote for anti-Semitism as a “nay” vote. If senators who abstained did so to sleep easy, they should think of Ginetta Sagan, a human rights activist, who said, “Silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor.” Shame on the senators who failed to condemn an anti-Semite.

All students, at any college campus, should be treated equally. Clearly, at GW, this isn’t a priority.

In February, the SA passed SR-S18-07, a resolution to urge the University to remove GW’s chapter of the Alpha Phi sorority from campus. The unanimous passing of this resolution highlights the hypocrisy of these 10 senators who were willing to condemn and kick off a sorority for a racist incident from two of their members, but were unwilling to do the same to a fellow senator. All students, at any college campus, should be treated equally. Clearly, at GW, this isn’t a priority. Jewish students, according to these 10 senators, are not equals.

The decision not to censure Forrest hinted at the outcome of SR-S18-21, which passed with 18 votes for, six against and six abstentions. There is a reason Jewish and non-Jewish students who visited Israel and Palestine steadfastly condemned the resolution. The Palestinian government has proven to harbor anti-Semitic beliefs. The Palestinian people elected Hamas, a recognized terrorist organization that denies the Holocaust and believes in the destruction of Israel, to govern. More than 18,000 missiles have been fired at Israel to achieve their goal. Israel, as any sovereign state would, must protect their citizens. Knowing this, the Palestinian government launches attacks from residential areas, schools and hospitals so when Israel inevitably defends itself from the existential threat, Palestinians are collateral damage. These deaths are the responsibility of the Palestinian government. Many of the companies this resolution asks GW to divest from, like Boeing and Lockheed Martin, supply Israel with defense weapons, pointing to the wider aim of the resolution: prohibit Israel’s ability to protect their citizens and sovereignty.

The resolution’s inclusion of Desmond Tutu is further proof of the deeper false intentions of the resolution. As the Gatestone Institute points out, his reputation “masks a long history of ugly hatred toward the Jewish people, the Jewish religion and the Jewish state.” The article also states Tutu “has invoked classic anti-Semitic stereotypes and tropes about Jewish ‘arrogance’, ‘power’ and money,” and compared Israel to “Hitler’s Germany.” Tutu is a textbook anti-Semite, and the resolution’s authors felt he was a legitimizing factor.

Criticizing the policies of Israel or any country is fair. Criticism and debate is a cornerstone of democracy. This resolution criticizes Israeli policies, but does so while disregarding other countries’ policies. Lebanon puts Palestinians in camps surrounded by concrete walls and barbed wire while prohibiting them to work, in violation of UN charters. If this resolution were not specifically targeting the Jewish State, it would call for the divestment from Lebanese companies. Egypt controls part of the Gaza border and built a separation wall, but this resolution does not call for divestment from Egyptian companies. SR-S18-21 points a finger at Israel, and turns a blind eye toward Egypt and Lebanon.

The SA validated anti-Semitism by not censuring Forrest and by approving this divisive, anti-Semitic resolution to silence Jewish voices on a complicated issue that needs further dialogue.

The State Department defines anti-Semitism as, “applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.” The resolution blames Israel for the problems faced by Palestinians today while ignoring actions from Egypt, Lebanon and the Palestinian government. These shortcomings highlight the anti-Semitic nature of the resolution.

These flaws shouldn’t have been ignored. Yet at Monday’s meeting, they were – despite being brought up by students during public comment.

The SA validated anti-Semitism by not censuring Forrest and by approving this divisive, anti-Semitic resolution to silence Jewish voices on a complicated issue that needs further dialogue.

My disappointment with the SA cannot be quantified. My disappointment with the number of senators that are complicit with anti-Semitism at GW cannot be quantified.

I call on the senators who voted to censure Forrest and against SR-S18-21 to come forward and clear their names, so next election cycle students know the supporters of equality. To those senators that had the guts to stand up to ignorance, hate and anti-Semitism, I say thank you. Standing up to ignorance, hate and anti-Semitism should not be daunting or controversial, but unfortunately, we do not live in such times.

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