A new report from the AMCHA Initiative found that anti-Semitism stemming from the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement has skyrocketed on college campuses across the country while instances of classic anti-Semitism declined in 2018.
The report, released on Sept. 17, states that there was a 70 percent increase in “Israel-related harassment” from 2017 to 2018 but a 42 percent decline in classic anti-Semitism harassment – defined as “anti-Jewish messages, or through actions targeting identifiably Jewish individuals (e.g. a student wearing a kippah) or objects” – over the same timeframe. Among the former, expressions “demonizing and delegitimizing Israel” saw a 32 percent increase and expressions “promoting or condoning terrorism against Israel” saw an increase by 67 percent.
The report goes onto note that “academic BDS-compliant behavior was linked to 86 percent of Israel-related acts of anti-Semitic harassment.”
“Academic BDS’s mandate to boycott or suppress programs, collaborations, events, or expression that promote ‘the normalization of Israel in the global academy,’ as well as the academic BDS-compliant “common sense” mandate to criticize, protest and boycott individuals who are deemed complicit with or supportive of Israel’s alleged crimes, appear to greatly encourage anti-Semitic behavior,” the report states. “At the same time, the significant increase in Israel-related anti-Semitic expression and its very strong association with the increase in academic BDS activity, along with the presence of such anti-Semitic rhetoric in almost every instance of academic BDS promotion, suggest that expression portraying Israel as a ‘pariah state’ worthy of harm and elimination may be critically important for justifying academic BDS activity on campus.”
The report recommends that campuses ensure that academics keep their decisions “educational and professional, not political” and that pro-Israel students are protected from harassment.
“Academic BDS is more dangerous than people realize,” AMCHA Initiative Director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin said. “Not only does implementation curtail students’ educational rights and opportunities, its promotion on campus, particularly by faculty who give it academic legitimacy, is inciting an alarming increase in harassment against Israel’s presumed supporters, first and foremost Jewish students. Administrators must take the necessary steps now to stop these unacceptable acts of intolerance.”