By Paul Miller, Originally published by JNS
A new survey released Monday offers data backing up the argument that anti-Israel activity—by entities including student groups, academics, and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement advocates—contributes directly to incidents of anti-Semitism on college campuses.
The study, conducted by the anti-Semitism watchdog group AMCHA Initiative, investigated anti-Semitic activity on more than 100 public and private colleges and universities over the duration of one year. Previous surveys commonly assessed levels of campus anti-Semitism by measuring student attitudes and subjective reports. According to AMCHA, this study assessed anti-Semitic activity by focusing on confirmed incidents compiled from media reports and eyewitness accounts. The campuses selected to be surveyed have the largest Jewish undergraduate populations in the country.
According to the study’s executive summary, three different kinds of activity were analyzed: “anti-Semitic expression,” meaning incidents with language or imagery that used one or more of eight tropes included in the U.S. State Department definition of anti-Semitism; “targeting of Jewish students,” meaning incidents involving behavior that targeted Jewish students for particular harm including physical assault, harassment, destruction of property, discrimination, and suppression of speech; and “BDS activity,” meaning the promotion or endorsement of an anti-Israel boycott, divestment, or sanctions effort. Campus BDS campaigns routinely employ rhetoric and imagery intended to demonize and delegitimize Israel, expression that is consistent with the State Department definition of anti-Semitism.
Among the schools examined in the study, 70 percent hosted events deemed anti-Semitic, and more than 300 incidents of anti-Semitism took place in 2015 on the surveyed campuses. Perhaps most revealing is that 99 percent of campuses that have at least one anti-Israel student group saw at least one anti-Semitic incident, compared to 16 percent of campuses with no dedicated anti-Israel groups. Fifty-seven of colleges and universities with at least one anti-Israel student group had one or more incidents that targeted Jewish students for physical harm.