On the eve of the 2019 Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) student government elections, ASSU Executive candidate Kimiko Hirota ’20 publicly apologized for a screenshot of a 2018 tweet she described as “anti-Semitic,” which she had posted on a now-deleted Twitter account. The tweet was publicized by the Stanford College Republicans (SCR) on Facebook earlier that night.
Though SCR had knowledge of the tweets since the end of March, they published the screenshots the day before the election so they would not be “lost in the shuffle of people coming back to campus and starting classes,” according to recently-elected SCR Vice President Michael Whittaker ’20.
“Our goals were to provide the voters with relevant information before they cast their vote,” Whittaker said.
In the May 2018 tweet, which quoted from the pro-Palestinian online newspaper Electronic Intifada, Hirota wrote that “much of Israeli society has decided” that three major massacres in Gaza are “a price worth paying to maintain a Jewish state.”
Hirota published her apology in The Daily, explaining that she failed “to recognize [the tweet] as anti-Semitic.” Hirota deleted the tweet and her Twitter account before SCR posted the screenshots of her page on Facebook.
“We must point out that instead of apologizing, Kimiko deleted her Twitter account,” SCR wrote in a statement to The Daily. “She wanted to hide her hate. There’s no reason to believe that she’s had a change of heart. ”
In her op-ed, Hirota said that over the past few months she has “had the pleasure of getting to know several members of the Jewish community, including [her] running mate, Bryce Tuttle,” and as a result, has come to better understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I regret now that I was not more informed about the nuances of Israeli and Palestinian relations at the time,” Hirota wrote.
Hirota also emphasized that she “condemns all forms of violence and hatred.”
Tuttle, who is Jewish, wrote in a parallel Daily op-ed that he was “deeply hurt” upon seeing his running mate’s tweet for the first time on Tuesday night.
“The quoted tweet was clearly anti-Semitic,” Tuttle wrote. “There is no mistaking the hate for the Jewish people it conveys. I strongly condemn the content of the shared tweet and the anti-Semitic tropes that it invokes.”
Jewish Student Association (JSA) President Courtney Cooperman ’20 agreed with Tuttle’s assessment of the tweet’s contents as anti-Semitic.
“By equating controversial military conflict with the essence of Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, the tweet crosses the line from legitimate criticism of Israeli government policy into an offensive misrepresentation of the connection that many Jews have with Israel,” Cooperman wrote in a statement to The Daily.
However, she went on to state that JSA appreciates Hirota’s “unequivocal condemnation of the original tweet” and “direct acknowledgment of the pain this has caused for many in our community.”
Tuttle described that when he confronted her on the subject, Hirota’s “response was not only reassuring, but it also confirmed all of the reasons why [he thinks] she would make an excellent ASSU President for all members of the Stanford community.”
However, SCR implored Tuttle to “take real action” and “demand” that Hirota step down.
ASSU Executive candidates Erica Scott ’20 and Isaiah Drummond ’20, who were called on in SCR’s post to condemn the remarks made by Hirota in her tweets, emphasized providing “affirmation and information in the face of harmful speech.”
“We denounce the anti-Semitic content of the tweet that Kimiko shared,” Scott wrote in a statement to The Daily.
SCR’s post also criticized other tweets from Hirota’s deleted Twitter account that they deemed “hateful,” “anti-American” and “anti-male.” These included a tweet on July 4, 2018 that read “wtf is there to celebrate today,” a tweet deeming racism “American” and a tweet that read “men are trash.”
“Regarding my tweets on racism, it’s true — racism has always been part of American history,” Hirota wrote in a statement to The Daily. “Regarding my tweet on the Fourth of July, I was making a joke. And regarding my tweet ‘men are trash’ — this is a common popular meme on Twitter, [and] also a joke.”
Scott and Drummond added that they disagree that “calling out racism and all forms of bigotry wherever they exist makes you anti-American.” They continued, “As two Black students, we are acutely aware of the myriad ways in which racism goes unchecked.”
The voting period for the election opened at 12:00 a.m. on Wednesday and will end at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday.