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December 11, 2016 7:13 am

Tracking the Jewish Reaction to Antisemitism on Campus

avatar by Dogan Akman

An anti-Israel rally at CUNY's Hunter College. Photo: StandWithUs/Screenshot.

An anti-Israel rally at CUNY’s Hunter College. Photo: StandWithUs/Screenshot.

Over the years — and more particularly since 2006 — various surveys and reports have told us that Jewish university students confronted with antisemitism on campus feel “uncomfortable,” “vulnerable,” “alarmed,” “frightened,” etc. These surveys also tell us the number of antisemitic incidents that students experience or witness each year.

Curiously enough, none of the surveys have probed the following three questions, which I consider fundamentally important for the future of the American Jewish community (both on campus and more generally):

1. How did the Jewish students handle and respond to each of the incidents?

2. Why did the students handle the incident the way they did; did any other Jewish or non-Jewish student in the vicinity come to their aid — and if so, what  did they do; and if no one came to their aid, what was the Jewish students’ reaction to that?

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3. When Good Samaritans did come to a Jewish student’s aid — do we know why they did so? Or do we know why they chose to walk away?

The data generated by the survey would tell us a great deal about the depth of the internal divisions and conflicts currently experienced by Jewish students on college campuses. They would also tell us the character of the next generation of Jewish Americans and Jewish American leaders — and tell us how we should focus our campus efforts in the future.

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