Jewish advocacy group Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is highlighting an increase in anti-Israel activities at U.S. colleges and universities, raising concerns about the incidents and their impact on Jewish students. According to the ADL’s annual Campus Report published earlier this month, more than 350 anti-Israel incidents occurred on college campuses during the 2021-2022 school year. Some of the incidents included 143 anti-Israel events, 165 protests and actions, and 20 Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) resolutions and referenda. In addition, the ADL reported 11 instances of vandalism, 19 instances of targeted verbal and written harassment, and one case involving a physical assault. During an April 18 protest last year against Israeli military action organized by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at the University of Illinois, a student threw a rock at a group of Jewish students. While no one was hurt, the perpetrator has been charged with a hate crime.
“Such an attack against Jews gathered at a Jewish institution is a blatant act of anti-Semitism,” the report states. The advocacy group noted the trend on many college campuses of accusing Israel of “genocide” or “ethnic cleansing” or labelling the country an “apartheid state.” The report also noted that campuses calling to boycott and divest from Israel and Israel-based companies appeared to be another trend during the 2021-2022 school year. At some secondary institutions, the report found that Jewish students were ostracized and barred from participating in campus organizations due to their assumed support for Israel and Zionism. “The anti-Semitic vitriol directed at pro-Israel students is deeply unsettling and makes our colleges and universities feel less safe and secure for Jewish students,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of ADL, in a statement.
“University leaders must learn how to recognize and adequately respond to anti-Semitism whenever it arises, including when anti-Israel activities cross the line into anti-Semitic hatred.” ADL’s campus report comes at a time when violence against Jews has reportedly reached record levels in the United States. Last year, the advocacy group reported 2,717 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism against Jewish people, the highest number on record since the ADL began tracking anti-Semitic incidents in 1979. In 2019, then-President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to treat anti-Semitism as a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The act bars discrimination based on “race, colour, and national origin” for activities and programs that receive federal assistance.
The order was intended to combat anti-Semitism, particularly at institutions that receive federal funding. Another study released in April 2016 by the AMCHA Initiative, a non-profit that investigates anti-Semitism on U.S. campuses, documented more than 300 anti-Semitic incidents on campuses in 2015. The report noted that the “strongest predictor of anti-Jewish hostility on campus” is the presence of a BDS campaign against Israel. The more BDS activities on campus, the more likely anti-Semitic incidents are to occur, according to the report. Faculty members notably took part in BDS efforts and shared anti-Israel sentiment on campuses at the time of AMCHA Initiative’s report. During a talk at Vassar College in February 2016, Rutgers professor Jasbir Puar accused Israel of harvesting Palestinian organs. She also claimed that Israel was conducting scientific experiments in “stunting” the growth of Palestinians’ bodies.
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