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Report finds that harassment of Jewish students tied to discrediting of global anti-Semitism definition

July 10, 2020
Report anti-semitism
Written by JACKSON RICHMAN

Schools with one or more incidents involving expression challenging the definition of anti-Semitism were more than twice as likely to host acts of Israel-related behavior targeting students for harm and the more such expression, the more Israel-related acts of harassment.

A report published on Tuesday by the nonprofit watchdog AMCHA Initiative documented a more than 300 percent increase in campus activity in 2019 intended to undermine and discredit the global acceptance of anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism.

This was accompanied by an increase in anti-Semitism on college campuses, according to the report.

Out of the 126 incidents, 119 of them—or 94 percent—were expressed by students affiliated with anti-Zionist student organizations or faculty who support an academic boycott of Israel, occurred as part of activities or events organized or sponsored by anti-Zionist student groups and academic departments with academic BDS-supporting faculty, according to the AMCHA report.

Schools with one or more incidents involving expression challenging the definition of anti-Semitism were more than twice as likely to host acts of Israel-related behavior targeting students for harm and the more such expression, the more Israel-related acts of harassment, according to the report.

Out of those incidents, 56—or 44 percent—were objections made by self-identified anti-Zionist Jews or at events sponsored or co-sponsored by a Jewish anti-Zionist group, usually Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which was more active in 2019 than ever before, according to the AMCHA report.

“Overall, JVP campus activity, such as events or activities organized or co-sponsored by JVP or that included participation by JVP members, statements issued by JVP or articles written by JVP members, increased by 45 percent from 118 occurrences in 2018 to 171 occurrences in 2019, and was strongly linked to increases in expression challenging the IHRA definition: Schools with an active JVP student group were three times more likely to have occurrences of expression challenging the definition,” stated the report.

Nonetheless, for the second consecutive year, there was a significant decrease in the number of incidents of anti-Jewish harassment identified as expressing classic anti-Semitism—down 49 percent from 203 incidents in 2018 to 104 in 2019. There was a significant increase in the number of Israel-related incidents, 192 in 2019—up 60 percent from 121 incidents during the previous year.

The report’s researchers also found that Israel-related anti-Semitism is easily adaptable to the distance-learning platforms that will likely play a large role in the college experience during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and they unveiled a new approach to protecting Jewish students on physical or virtual campuses.

In 2019, there was 72 percent of Israel-related instances of anti-Semitic harassment occurred via online transmission, including, but not limited to, emails, social-media postings, organizational websites, and online newspaper articles and webinars. Such behavior also occurred in campus forums, such as classes and student government and faculty meetings that since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic are routinely held via online platforms including Zoom, according to the report.

Read More: JNS