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Letter to the Editor: In response to the op-ed by Jewish Voice for Peace

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Dear Editor:

The Oct. 26 op-ed by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) but unsigned by its authors (in violation of The Daily’s own submission guidelines) is inflammatory and biased, and does a disservice to Stanford as a community that values the respectful exchange of diverse perspectives.

Along with approximately 30 others — about half of them students — I attended the Reservists on Duty (RoD) presentation at Chabad at Stanford on the evening of Monday, Oct. 16. The speakers — a Muslim, a Druze, a Christian and a Bedouin who serve in the Israel Defense Forces — came from Israel to share their own experiences as Israeli citizens from ethnic and religious minorities. There was no vitriol. Only those categorically opposed to hearing anything positive about the State of Israel could have found anything objectionable.

JVP’s opposition to the group’s proposed presentation on campus seemed to stem from a one-dimensional interpretation of an event at the University of California, Irvine a year ago. Based on event synopses and links to Electronic Intifada, a biased media outlet known to be anti-Semitic, JVP alleged that RoD disrupted Anti-Zionism Week at UC Irvine last spring.

But a UC Irvine investigation of the events determined that Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) — a frequent partner organization of JVP — was the most problematic actor in the conflict. UC Irvine imposed a two-year suspension on SJP and is requiring the group to meet 12 times with the dean of students to attain a better understanding of the meaning of free speech, which governs campus discourse. Video of the event in question can be seen here.

In our own Stanford community, where free speech is a hallmark, civil voices offer a valuable perspective on diversity in a democracy. Student groups and community centers who bully others into cancelling events — or moving them off-campus — are violating Stanford’s fundamental standard, which states: “Students at Stanford are expected to show both within and without the University such respect for order, morality, personal honor and the rights of others as is demanded of good citizens.”

It is my sincere hope that the double standard too frequently accepted when it comes to Zionism, Israel and Jewish life becomes as indefensible as a double standard applied to any other form of bigotry would be. As Stanford, we can do better.

— Susan Wolfe, ’81, Palo Alto, CA