November 12, 2019

AMCHA Report: Anti-Israel Harassment ‘More Likely’ to Create Hate Toward Jews on Campus Than ‘Classic Anti-Semitism’

A new report from the AMCHA Initiative has determined that anti-Israel harassment on college campuses in 2017 were more likely to create an antagonistic environment against Jewish students on campus than “classic” anti-Semitic incidents.

AMCHA concluded that while “classic anti-Semitic incidents” such as two swastikas drawn on a library desk at Macalester College vastly outnumbered the anti-Israel incidents (205 to 71), only 23% showed “intent to harm” while 94% of anti-Israel incidents showed such intent.

Of that 94% of anti-Israel acts, 76% involved the “personal targeting” of pro-Israel students, with some examples being Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) targeting the Claremont Progressive Jewish Alliance president at Pomona College as “a proud racist” on social media based on her support of Israel and a handbook created by anti-Israel activists on Tufts University campus claiming that by supporting Israel, Hillel is endorsing “a white supremacist state.”

Forty-four percent of the anti-Israel acts with intent to harm involved attempts to censor pro-Israel speech, such as when anti-Israel students attempted to prevent people from entering a speech by Israeli United Nations Ambassador Danny Danon at Columbia University; the anti-Israel students also heckled Danon several times throughout the speech.

“When Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Mr. Danny Danon, came to speak at an SSI event, BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] activists blocked the entrance to the auditorium, physically preventing people from entering and intimidating those who managed to get in,” a Columbia student told AMCHA. “During the ambassador’s 25-minutes speech, the BDS activists disrupted him seven times with calls to Boycott Israel…the BDS activists’ message was clear: The only freedom of speech worthy of protection is their own. Those who disagree, or dispute their view of the world, would be violently disrupted.”

AMCHA also determined that anti-Israel incidents with intent to harm were “6.5 times more likely to have multiple perpetrators than classic anti-Semitic incidents with harmful intent, and 7 times more likely to have perpetrators with affiliations to on-campus or outside groups.”

“Taken together these data suggest that in 2017, Israel-related anti-Semitic incidents were considerably more likely to 16 contribute to a hostile environment for Jewish students than incidents involving classic anti-Semitism,” the report concludes.

The AMCHA report included some student testimonials as well.

“For every swastika, there’s a million little conversations that go on that are much more harmful than that,” a William and Mary College student said. “Everyone can get behind, ‘Alright, there’s a swastika. That’s ridiculous, that’s not OK. But for the little conversations that are more political in nature people just assume that it’s OK to say, ‘Well, you’re a Zionist, so I don’t like you,’ and that’s part of our culture.”

A UC Davis student told AMCHA, “I’ve had foul and intolerable words yelled at me while I’m studying because I had a sticker of Israel on my laptop. When Arab-Israeli Diplomat George Deek came to speak on campus, anti-Semitic students shouted, ‘Death to Jews’ at my friends and me. I’ve known Jewish students who are afraid to speak up in class against anti-Semitic professors because they’re afraid of what might happen to their academic reputations.”

Additionally, a University of Illinois Champagne-Urbana student told AMCHA that anti-Israel students have compared Zionists “to the KKK, to violent fascists and accused of perpetuating white supremacy all because we believe that the Jewish people have a right to self-determination.”

The report argues that such anti-Israel sentiments are often allowed to grow on college campuses due to many administrators looking the other way.

“University administrators rarely recognize anti-Zionist harassment as a form of unlawful discrimination, because they see it as motivated by political considerations rather than ethnic or religious ones,” the report states. “In addition, when acts of classic antisemitism occur on campus, many in the campus community are sympathetic with Jewish students and stand in solidarity with them, but this is not the case when acts of anti-Zionist harassment occur. Few in the campus community are sympathetic to the plight of pro-Israel students, and many are even complicit in creating a hostile environment for them.”

Read the full report here.