Future of anti-Semitism bill ‘up in the air’

Photo illustration by Jackie Cohen

At the Sept. 8 student government senate meeting, Student Government President Mitchell Rosenberg stood by his decision to veto a bill designed to combat anti-Semitism, which had been originally presented in May.

Matthew Ghan, the senator who brought the bill to the senate, told The Panther that the future of the bill is “up in the air.” Although Ghan, who is also a member of campus Jewish organization Hillel, thinks that the bill needs to be reworked in order to be brought back to the senate, the club that presented the bill to Ghan doesn’t believe that it needs to be revised.

“There wasn’t enough support for the bill,” Ghan said. “It needs to be worded and built so that the university can support it too. It requires more time and direction.”

Last semester, two students from the Students Supporting Israel club (SSI) presented a bill to Ghan, who later brought it to the senate. The bill was designed to garner support from the Jewish population on campus as well as “protect Jewish students and (Chapman’s) relationship with the Jewish community,” according to the bill.

Rosenberg told The Panther in May that the university’s administration “blatantly said this is not something they (would) adopt.”

Dean of Students Jerry Price said that Chapman’s current policies against violence and discrimination of any kind allow the school to respond appropriately to hateful incidents. He doesn’t know what else the bill could do that the current university student policies don’t already cover.

“I feel confident that our current policies are adequate for us to be able to respond appropriately to hateful incidents, whether it be just responding to terms that are rhetorical, or to policies that are actually broken,” Price said.

Some students were concerned when the bill was initially passed in May, because it used the U.S. Department of State’s definition of anti-Semitism, which recognizes that anti-Semitism can be related to Israel. However, the bill states that it doesn’t take a side on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

“I think an anti-racism bill is necessary in showing the student body where (student government) stands,” said Safi Nazzal, the president of the Students for Justice in Palestine club. “My concern with the anti-Semitism bill is the possibility of it being a cover-up in conflating Semitism with the state of Israel. I don’t think it should be tied into a political viewpoint.”

Rosenberg said that while he stands by his decision to veto the bill, he does want to see the topic brought up again.

“As important of an issue as anti-Semitism is, we didn’t do our jobs in actually seeing a future for the bill coming to fruition,” Rosenberg said.

The SSI club thinks the bill needs to be brought back before the senate because of “anti-Semitic acts on campus.” The last recorded anti-Semitic act on campus was the burning of a swastika in the ceiling of Pralle-Sodaro Hall in 2014, Price said.

“We wanted this bill passed because we feel like any kind of anti-Semitism is unacceptable,” SSI President Leehe Reihanian and Vice President Gabriella Kianmahd wrote in a joint statement to The Panther.

Although the SSI club tabled in the Attallah Piazza in May to spread the word about the bill, Reihanian and Kianmahd wrote that they did not include other Jewish clubs and organizations in their decision to present it. They declined to comment on this decision.

“I can’t speak on why they didn’t include other groups on campus,” Ghan said. “It was rushed and eventually messed up. From our end, the issue was time and support. Now we have the opportunity to go back.”

The executive board of Hillel declined to comment on whether they would be willing to work on a new anti-Semitism bill.

1 Comment

  • This is disgraceful. Rosenberg should be ashamed of himself as should the student senate. Last I checked Palestine is only a “non-member observer” within the UN, so it’s unfortunate that supporters of that illegitimate state are so easily offended.

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