Thursday, November 30th | 18 Kislev 5784

November 21, 2023 3:05 pm

Over One-Third of Jewish College Students Feel Need to Hide Identity Since Oct. 7 Massacre, Hillel Poll Finds


avatar by Dion J. Pierre

George Washington University students assembled at the campus’ Kogan Plaza on Oct. 9, 2023 to mourn those who died during Hamas’ terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. Photo: Dion J. Pierre/The Algemeiner

More than one in three Jewish college students reporting feeling the need to hide their Jewish identity on campus since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, according to a new survey.

A striking 37 percent of Jewish students said they have needed to hide their Jewish identity, according to the results of a poll published on Monday by Hillel International, the largest Jewish campus organization in the world.

The survey, which included 300 Jewish college students, found that 35 percent of respondents said there have been acts of hate or violence against Jews on campus. A majority of those surveyed said they were unsatisfied with their university’s response to those incidents.

The findings came amid a historic surge in antisemitism across the world, especially in the US and Europe. A recent report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), for example, recorded 832 outrages targeting American Jews between Oct. 7 and Nov. 7 — an average of 28 incidents per day and a 316 percent increase on the same period in 2022. Across Europe, meanwhile, governments have experienced record increases in antisemitic incidents in countries such as France and Germany since the Hamas pogrom in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

College campuses across the West have been hubs of such antisemitism over the past six weeks, with students and faculty both demonizing Israel and rationalizing Hamas’ terror onslaught. Incidents of harassment and even violence against Jewish students have also increased. As a result, Jewish students have expressed feeling unsafe and unprotected on campuses. In some cases, Jewish communities on campuses have been forced to endure threats of rape and mass slaughter.

“The hate that fueled Hamas’ attack on Israel has rapidly spread to college campuses, leaving Jewish students feeling both unsupported and unsafe,” Adam Lehman, CEO of Hillel International, said in a statement. “And the data show that it’s getting worse. At a time when Jewish students need to feel safe, supported, and protected by university presidents and administrators more than they ever have before, Hillel International is working day and night to ensure universities are taking concrete actions to protect Jewish communities on campuses.”

Hillel International’s survey found that 68 percent of Jewish students reported feeling sad and 54 percent said they were afraid in the current environment. About four out of five Jewish students (78 percent) said Jewish spaces were more important than ever.

Even before Oct. 7, the problem of Jewish students being afraid to show their identity existed. In 2021, after the last conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas, 30 percent of Jewish students concealed their Jewish identity, according to a survey taken that year by the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. The findings showed Jewish students sought to avoid conflicts with professors and classmates, fearing low marks and verbal and physical attacks they had seen or heard about.

Hillel’s latest survey was conducted online by Benenson Strategy Group on behalf of Hillel International between Nov. 14 and 15.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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