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Stanford lecturer separates Jewish students, calls them ‘colonizers,’ students say

Hoover Tower at Stanford University in Stanford, California on Oct. 23, 2019. (Randy Vazquez/Bay Area News Group/TNS)
October 13, 2023

A lecturer at Stanford University singled out Jewish students and called them “colonizers” while minimizing the Holocaust, according to students who wished to remain anonymous amid heightened tensions in the wake of the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel last weekend.

Senior Nourya Cohen and junior Andrei Mandelshtam, co-presidents of the university’s Israeli Student Association, spoke with students in College 101, a required course for freshmen where the incident reportedly occurred, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Cohen and Mandelshtam said the lecturer announced a lesson on colonialism and proceeded to blame the Israel-Palestine war on Zionists, arguing the Hamas terrorist attacks that killed 1,200 Jews – mainly civilians – were part of a resistance effort.

Cohen said the lecturer “asked Jewish students to raise their hands” and then separated them from their personal items, arguing Israel was doing the same to Palestinians.

The lecturer also asked how many Jews died in the Holocaust, and when students answered 6 million, the lecturer responded, “Yes. Only 6 million.”

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Students said the lecturer insisted more people died from colonization than the Holocaust, highlighting Belgian King Leopold, who he said colonized Congo and killed 12 million Africans.

The lecturer said Palestinians were the victims of colonization and asked every student in the room to reveal where their ancestors were from. He then labeled each student “colonizer” or “colonized,” the students said.

When one student said he or she was from Israel, the lecturer responded, “Oh, definitely a colonizer.”

Cohen and Mandelshtam said listening to stories about the lesson was difficult.

“I feel absolutely dehumanized that someone in charge of students and developing minds could possibly try and justify the massacre of my people,” Cohen said. “It’s like I’m reliving the justification of Nazis 80 years ago on today’s college campus.”

Joshua Jankelow, president of the Jewish organization Chabad at Stanford, confirmed Cohen and Mandelshtam’s report, noting one student revealed the same story to him.

Jankelow said the lecturer’s “lesson” sounds “like a vile form of hatred.”

The university is investigating the incident.

“We have received a report of a class in which a non-faculty instructor is reported to have addressed the Middle East conflict in a manner that called out individual students in class based on their backgrounds and identities. Without prejudging the matter, this report is a cause for serious concern. Academic freedom does not permit the identity-based targeting of students. The instructor in this course is not currently teaching while the university works to ascertain the facts of the situation,” Stanford said in a statement.