ADL Report Highlights ‘Significant Trend of Anti-Semitism’ in ‘the Anti-Israel Movement on Campus’

May 27, 2020
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – MAY 08: A general view of the atmosphere at the Anti-Defamation League’s Centennial Entertainment Industry Award Dinner at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on May 8, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released a report on May 27 highlighting how anti-Semitism permeates “the anti-Israel movement on [college campuses].”

The report acknowledged that although the majority of criticism against Israel on college campuses is legitimate criticism, and most Jewish students don’t face anti-Semitism on college campuses on a daily basis, there is a growing trend of instances in which Israel and Zionism are demonized on college campuses.

“Anti-Israel student activists and professors expressed anti-Semitic ideas in a variety of ways, including through the denigration of Zionism, the idea of Jewish nationalism in the land of Israel,” the report stated. “This demonization and negation sometimes took the form of equating Zionism with racism, Nazism, or white supremacy. Often ‘Zionism’ was conflated with critiques of Israeli policy or Israeli leaders. This contributes to the movement to delegitimize Israel as a sovereign state.”

The report noted that Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is the most active group on college campuses against Israel.

“They are a leading campus organizer of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel and specialize in using confrontational tactics such as disrupting student-run pro-Israel events and constructing mock ‘apartheid walls’ and distributing fake ‘eviction notices’ to dramatize what they consider Israeli abuses of Palestinians,” the report stated. “They believe that Zionism is an inherently racist ideology. As proponents of ‘anti-normalization’ between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel advocates, they make it more difficult for groups with diverging views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to work together and achieve mutual understanding.”

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) is another leading proponent of BDS and anti-Israel activity on college campuses, the report stated, noting that JVP also “views Zionism as fundamentally racist and rejects the view that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a tragic dispute over land which has been perpetuated by a cycle of violence, fear, and distrust on both sides in favor of the belief that Israeli policies and actions are motivated by deeply rooted Jewish racial chauvinism and religious supremacism.”

Both SJP and JVP frequently promulgate rhetoric equating Zionism to racism and white supremacy on college campuses, with some examples highlighted in the report including JVP at Portland State University handing out T-shirts in April 2019 that stated, “Israel is a garbage country that’s only loved by garbage people. It was founded on ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and settler-colonialism. Its flag is a symbol of white supremacy.” The group also handed out shirts saying, “All Zionists are racists. Every single one.” Additionally, SJP at Cal State Fullerton built mock apartheid walls in April and November 2019 that had “Zionism = racism” scrawled on it.

There also have been various attempts to exclude Zionist and pro-Israel students from campus spaces, including when students blocked a reporter from a Jewish publication from accessing a mock apartheid wall at the University of Houston in March 2019. The report also highlighted a UC Berkeley student government meeting in April 2019 during which a student said that being friends with a Zionist is the equivalent of being “complicit in the prison-industrial complex and prison militarization and modern-day slavery.” A Jewish student at the meeting said that he or she was “told to move to the back of the room because I was Jewish.”

The report went on to highlight instances in which SJP has glorified terrorists, pointing to a December SJP display at UC Berkeley honoring Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorists Leila Khaled, Rasmea Odeh and SJP Chicago holding a “die-in” in November to honor 36 Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes in the Gaza Strip. Among those killed were members of the Islamic Jihad.

The report concluded with a call for university leaders to condemn anti-Israel activity from groups like SJP and JVP that cross the line into anti-Semitism and to hold the groups’ donors accountable.

“A significant trend of anti-Semitism exists within the anti-Israel movement on campus that must be confronted,” the report stated. “Norms of the academy such as freedom of speech and the exchange of ideas are sacrosanct and must be preserved. Yet left unchecked, this strain of anti-Semitism will continue to create an environment of fear and intimidation for many Jewish students.”

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted, “We anticipate a significant uptick in anti-Israel activity once students return to campus, and our goal is to keep legitimate criticism from becoming #antisemitism. @ADL’s new report shows the extent of anti-Israel activity on campus — & what can be done if it crosses that line.”

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