March 15, 2016

Anti-Semitism on campus linked to anti-Israel activity

Print More
A new survey by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research shows that some college majors can influence students' religiosity,  positively or negatively, over time. RNS file photo of Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., courtesy of Juniata College.

A new survey by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research shows that some college majors can influence students' religiosity, positively or negatively, over time. RNS file photo of Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., courtesy of Juniata College.

(RNS) Anti-Semitism goes hand-in-hand with anti-Israel activities at U.S. colleges, according to a new report that one critic called a “crude rhetorical cudgel” against the so-called Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

The report was released on Monday, (March 14) by the Amcha Initiative, a group founded by two professors in the University of California system in response to anti-Semitic incidents on campuses.

Amcha, which means “your people” in Hebrew, focuses on colleges of all sizes with significant Jewish student populations, and concludes that “the primary agents of antisemitic activity are anti-Zionist students and faculty boycotters and that Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is the strongest predictor of anti-Jewish hostility on campus.”

The BDS movement calls for economic pressure to be put on Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian lands.

The Amcha Initiative says BDS protests, organized by Student for Justice in Palestine and other pro-Palestinian groups, often go beyond criticizing Israel. The study finds that pro-Palestinian activists on campus are frequently anti-Israel activists who demonize the Jewish nation as an apartheid state that has no right to exist, compare Israelis to Nazis, and verbally and physically harass Jewish students.

“No student should ever be targeted for harm because of his or her perceived religious or ethnic identity, and yet, at far too many schools, Jewish students are routinely threatened because of their identity,” said Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA’s director.

According to the report, entitled “Antisemitic Activity in 2015 at U.S. Colleges and Universities With the Largest Jewish Undergraduate Populations,” those schools experienced a total of more than 300 incidents of anti-Semitism that year, from anti-Semitic graffiti to physical threats against Jewish students. The report ties the presence of anti-Zionist groups on campus to these incidents, finding that 99 percent of schools with such an organization had one or more incidents of anti-Semitic activity, as opposed to 16 percent of schools with no active anti-Zionist student group.

Edward Curtis, a professor of religion at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and chair of the school’s pro-BDS faculty and staff group, said Amcha’s study lacks credibility.

“Because the report equates any criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, it is a fundamentally flawed and deeply cynical piece of propaganda,” he said. “The Amcha report takes a serious problem, anti-Semitism, and uses it as a crude rhetorical cudgel against the group’s political opponents.”

Curtis said the report also ignores ‘the victimization of pro-BDS activists, including Jews” and called for an open debate on BDS in which no one is intimidated.

In February 2015, a comprehensive survey of anti-Semitism at American colleges from Trinity College and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law showed that 54 percent of Jewish students experienced anti-Semitism on campus in the first six months of the 2013-2014 academic year.


RELATED STORY: Anti-Semitism a big problem at US colleges, report says


Mounting reports of anti-Semitic activity on colleges in recent years moved the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Jewish civil rights group, to create “CombatHateU,” an app for college students to report both anti-Semitic and anti-Israel activity.

In 2005 the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights declared that campus anti-Semitism had become a “serious problem” and called for more research on the issue.

(Lauren Markoe is a national reporter at RNS)

  • Pingback: Anti-Semitism on campus linked to anti-Israel activity | Christian News Agency()

  • Pingback: Anti-Semitism on campus linked to anti-Israel activity - mosaicversemosaicverse()

  • Americans have lost the ability to debate because careful language is dying.

    It is NOT bigoted to say “Republicanism is a foolish philosophy”
    But it IS bigoted to say “Republicans are fools”

    Arguing intelligently with religious proponents demands a level of respect for language which no longer seems to exist in general company.

  • Tom

    Muslims, Jews, and Christians were living together reasonably well in Palestine prior to the 1917 Balfour Declaration by the British. I suggest reading about Edwin S. Montagu(MP),who was a Jew serving in Parliament on that day. He voted against it , knowing full well that it would lead to a really bad situation. His predictions were prophetic.

  • GaryO

    “Because the report equates any criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, it is a fundamentally flawed and deeply cynical piece of propaganda . . . The Amcha report takes a serious problem, anti-Semitism, and uses it as a crude rhetorical cudgel against the group’s political opponents.”

    In other words . . . Netanyahu’s ultra-Conservative land-grabbing, warmongering government together with America’s Right Wing propaganda apparatus seeks again to FOOL us Americans.

    They want us to equate the current Right Wing Israeli government with Israel itself. But discerning people KNOW better.

    AND they want us to believe that those who abhor Netanyahu’s ultra-Conservative land-grabbing, warmongering government are antisemitic.

    But THAT is absolutely preposterous given the fact that millions of Jews both here and in Israel ALSO abhor Netanyahu’s ultra-Conservative land-grabbing, warmongering government.

    What a bunch of Baloney!

  • Observer

    If one criticized the government or policies of Britain, Germany, Italy, Lebanon, Ireland, China, Mexico, Greece, Egypt or any other nation; does that make a person racist against an American whose ancestors came from one of those nations or comes from same ethnic group? No! All of these countries listed may have strong support from some Americans who have an ethnic identity with the people of these nations. But as Americans, we all need to put the interest of the US ahead of any other country while respecting each’s ethnic and religious group. Calling someone racists because she or he does not agree with the politics or actions of another country is manipulative and low.

  • The Great God Pan

    The pro-Palestine movement now flaunts its hatred of Jews so boldly that I don’t see how anyone but a liar could claim it isn’t there.

    When a South African BDS group protests a Jewish saxophonist’s concert by chanting “Shoot the Jew!” and the president of their group tells reporters that the incident wasn’t anti-Semitic because they didn’t mean it literally and were saying “Jew” as a metaphor for “Israel,” who but a liar could claim to believe him?

    When a trio of Palestinians in Germany firebomb a synagogue and the judge says they weren’t motivated by hatred of Jews but by the desire to “bring attention to the Gaza conflict,” who but a liar could agree with him?

    Can the claim that these are attacks against the state of Israel, not Jews in general, really be believed? I don’t see how.

  • Neon Genesis

    I find the results of a survey of an organization that was already set up on the assumption that there is widespread antisemitism on college campuses coincidentally releases a survey proving their already given assumptions about it. No doubt there is likely some unfortunate heated rhetoric from some of the most extreme supports of Palestine, but I’m sure if you conducted a study of pro-Israel groups, you’ll probably find a similar amount of hatred for Palestine among those groups.

  • Pingback: Christian News Weekly Recap March 14 – 19, 2016 - Zeteo 3:16()