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September 8, 2023 7:22 am

Vast Majority of Jewish Students Consider Antisemitism a Threat to US, New Survey Finds


avatar by Dion J. Pierre

An ‘apartheid wall’ erected by Students for Justice in Palestine at University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Photo: SJP at UIUC.

Amid a global surge in antisemitic hate crimes, a striking 84 percent of Jewish students in the US fear that antisemitism poses a threat to the country, according to a new survey.

The survey — conducted by market research firm Ipsos and released on Friday by the World Jewish Congress and Jewish on Campus, a nonprofit organization — found that 57 percent of Jewish students have witnessed or experienced an act of antisemitism either on campus or in the general public.

Of those who witnessed or experienced such antisemitism, more than one in five (21 percent) said the incident was wishing death and/or genocide on Jews. Meanwhile, half witnessed or experienced hate speech, 48 percent saw vandalism, 43 percent faced the spreading of conspiracy theories, and 72 percent witnessed or experienced so-called microaggressions — a term used to describe subtle acts of bigotry.

The survey also showed that of all college students, three in five have no knowledge of past institutional antisemitism in the US — such as university quotas — while 15 percent found the historical reality or death toll of the Holocaust not believable or were unsure.

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The new findings come amid a nationwide surge in antisemitic incidents on college campuses across the US — a problem that has been tracked by several nonprofits. Groups such as the Anti-Defamation League and the AMCHA Initiative have monitored a significant increase in displays of both traditional antisemitism — discrimination against Jews based on religion or race — and anti-Zionism targeting Jewish students due to hostility toward Israel.

“Our new analysis of the antisemitism Jewish students face — measured on an unprecedented scale — underscores the urgency of our mission to elevate the voices and experiences of Jewish students,” Jewish on Campus co-founder and CEO Julia Jassey said in a statement. “As the new school year begins, these findings provide key evidence of the breadth and depth of antisemitism students face, and we will continue urging university administrators, campus leaders, and non-Jewish students to meet this moment and take antisemitism seriously.”

The Algemeiner has previously reported on the surge in antisemitism across American college campuses. Last month, for example, the City University of New York (CUNY), a higher-education consortium with 25 campuses across the five boroughs, hired prominent academic and anti-Israel commentator Marc Lamont Hill as the CUNY Graduate Center’s “presidential professor” of urban education.

Hill’s hiring stirred controversy in light of both his past comments concerning Israel and Zionism and numerous civil rights complaints alleging that CUNY itself fosters a hostile, antisemitic environment in which members of the Jewish community are threatened and harassed.

More recently, a student and anti-Israel activist at Harvard University interrupted a convocation ceremony held by the school earlier this week, shouting at Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana, “Here’s the real truth — Harvard supports, upholds, and invests in Israeli apartheid, and the oppression of Palestinians!”

Last school year also saw numerous antisemitic acts on college campuses.

In April, at Stanford University, a swastika was etched into a metal panel of a bathroom, and a student’s mezuzah was desecrated. Weeks earlier, a Jewish student found an image of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and swastikas on their door.

Back to back antisemitic incidents also occurred on and near the University of California, Santa Cruz in May. That same month, an unidentified person used their own excrement to vandalize the walls of a University of California, San Diego residential bathroom with swastikas.

“This study provides concrete evidence that not enough is being done by school administrators and government officials to protect Jewish students from hate,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, a former US ambassador to Austria, said in a statement. “It’s clear that something is very wrong with our education system when more than 50 percent of Jewish students in America have observed an antisemitic incident. Of those, roughly half have witnessed or been on the receiving end of hate speech. It is absolutely unacceptable that next-to-nothing has been done to address this until now.”

Lauder added, “I vow to support Jewish students as they take on these challenges, bigots, and threats of retribution that they face each day. Through our partnership with Jewish on Campus we will continue to elevate their voices as they fight back against the endless stream of verbal and physical attacks.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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