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How American campus life undermines Jewish identity

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P61J – 0512 (4)

Published: 9 December 2022

Last updated: 5 March 2024

New study finds harassment is widespread and prestigious Harvard is the worst.

Harvard University leads American campuses in antisemitism, targeting Jews who express support for Zionism and the State of Israel, with such attacks threatening Jewish students' identity and making many students feel uncomfortable expressing their Jewish identity, according to a new study by the AMCHA Initiative .

The AMCHA Initiative divides threats to Jewish identity into three categories: redefinition, denigration and suppression. Redefinition includes expressions dissociating Zionism from Judaism or progressive values or denying anti-Zionism is antisemitism. Denigration includes expressions using classic antisemitic tropes to vilify Jewish or Zionist identity. Suppression includes calls to rid campuses of Zionists or Zionism, boycotts or cancellations of Israel-related events or programs, bullying or intimidation of Jewish students or discouraging Jewish students from engaging in Birthright or other Jewish identity trips.

Such threats to Jewish identity were seen on nearly 60% of the 109 campuses popular with Jewish students, with campuses reporting 10 or more such incidents in the 2021-2022 academic year including Harvard (25), University of Chicago (13), Tufts University (12), Rutgers University (10) and University of California Los Angeles (10).

A collage produced by AMCHA showing some of the anti-Zionist material on US campuses
A collage produced by AMCHA showing some of the anti-Zionist material on US campuses

Incidents targeting Jewish identity also rose drastically after the 2021 Gaza crisis, with the overall number of threats to Jewish identity doubling in the first 10 months of the 2021-2022 academic year, compared to the 10 months prior to the conflict. The number of schools affected by such incidents also rose by 41%.

The AMCHA Initiative noted that faculty contributed "significantly" to attacks on Jewish identity during the 2021-2022 academic year, with schools with five or more faculty members who supported an academic boycott of Israel being nearly four times more likely to have an assault on Jewish identity.

READ MORE
Harvard home to greatest 'threat to Jewish identity' – study (Jerusalem Post)
The AMCHA Initiative stressed that threats to Jewish identity constitute "a degree of harassment … unparalleled on college campuses."

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Photo: Students at the University of California perform a mock execution as part of an anti-Israel protest (JNS)

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