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July 28, 2015 1:48 pm

Study: 75% of Jewish North American College Students Exposed to Antisemitism in 2014

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avatar by Eliezer Sherman

Jewish students reported feeling frightened, targeted and intimidated on campus. Photo: Jonathan Hoenig.

Jewish students reported feeling frightened, targeted and intimidated on campus. Photo: Jonathan Hoenig.

Nearly three quarters of Jewish U.S. and Canadian college students and young adults reported having been exposed to antisemitic vitriol last year, according to a study by Brandeis University released on Tuesday.

In the study — conducted by Brandeis University’s Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and titled “Antisemitism and the College Campus: Perceptions and Realities” — nearly 75 percent of respondents reported being exposed to “at least one of six anti-Semitic statements,” including claims that Jews had too much power and that Israelis behaved like Nazis in their treatment of Palestinians.

The study, which was based on the responses of 3,199 students to an online questionnaire of those eligible for the free Taglit-Birthright Israel trips to the Jewish state, also found that more than 25 percent of students find a “fairly” or “very big” problem of hostility towards Israel on campus, while another 25 percent reported being blamed for the actions of Israel because they are Jewish.

Those with a strong connection to Israel (21%) were most likely to perceive a hostile environment to Jews or Israel on campus, the report said, which dovetails with the spike in antisemitic incidents in 2014 in part related to the Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip last summer that resulted in several weeks of fighting between Hamas and Israel in Gaza.

“It is likely that those who are highly connected to Israel become a target of antisemitic or anti-Israel sentiment because they make their support for Israel known. It is also likely that those who are more connected to Israel are more sensitive to criticism of Israel, or more likely to perceive such criticism as antisemitic,” said the report.

According to the study, exposure to hostility toward “Jews or Israel” was highest in Canadian universities, Midwestern land-grant schools, and universities in California, where state legislators recently passed a resolution calling on the state’s public universities to condemn antisemitism on campus.

At the same time, a little under half (46%) of undergraduate respondents said they had no information at all on the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign called BDS, though some high-profile U.S. campuses such as Stanford and UC San Diego made headlines when student governments voted on measures to adopt a boycott of Israel. Only 20% of undergraduates said they had some information, and just 14% said they had a good amount of material on BDS.

With reporting by 

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