Anti-Semitism on campus increased 40% and genocidal expression doubled in 2016, according to AMCHA Initiative’s annual study, released Tuesday, that examines anti-Semitism at more than 100 public and private colleges and universities with the largest Jewish undergraduate populations.
The main findings of the study are:
40% Spike: Anti-Semitism on campuses most popular for Jewish students continued to rise, increasing 40% in 2016.
Hotspots: While anti-Semitic incidents increased, the total number of schools affected by campus anti-Semitism did not, indicating that a select number of schools are experiencing surges. Columbia, Vassar, New York University, University of Chicago, University of Wisconsin Madison, University of Minnesota and Ohio State University had the largest increases.
BDS Influence: All of the schools with the largest surges in anti-Semitic activity were those that played host to anti-Israel divestment votes in 2016 but not in 2015.
Two sources: Classic anti-Semitism (57% of incidents) and anti-Zionism (43%) were the two motivating factors in acts that targeted Jewish students and staff for harm.
Acts of anti-Jewish hostility that appeared to be primarily motivated by historical anti-Semitism rose by 76%.
Anti-Semitic genocidal expression, mostly consisting of swastikas and graffiti, signs, posters and letters that call for the killing of Jews, doubled from 2015 to 2016. Examples include, “Kill all Kikes,” “GAS JEWS DIE,” “Gas the Kikes,” “Death to Israel and to all Jews,” and “Holocaust 2.0.”
Many of the incidents of anti-Jewish genocidal expression also targeted students from other campus groups – eg. Immigrants, students of color, LGBTQ students, students of different political opinions or ideologies – suggesting a troubling increase in universally intolerant, hateful behavior.
Consistent with AMCHA’s 2015 study, BDS activity, the presence of anti-Zionist student groups and faculty who have endorsed an academic boycott of Israel were each significantly strong predictors of conduct that targeted Jewish students and staff for harm in 2016.
“On college campuses, Jewish students have often been subjected to severely intolerant behavior: actions that target them for harm and deprive them of their freedom of expression, as well as hateful speech and imagery that threaten violence against them or portray them as worthy of harm,” wrote Tammi Rossman-Benjamin and Leila Beckwith, the study’s lead researchers. “In the first two and a half months in 2017 alone, there were more than 30 incidents involving anti-Jewish genocidal expression at the schools in our study, with several of these incidents affecting not only Jewish students but other members of the campus community who have been targeted for their opinion or identity. In the current climate of increasing polarization and acts of extreme intolerance, we believe that Jewish students, and all students, will be best served when university administrators treat anti-Semitism and other acts of bigotry as forms of intolerant behavior that must be addressed with a single behavioral standard applied equitably to all forms of intolerance.”
The researchers also detailed six recommendations for university administrators to implement to reduce intolerance and promote free expression for all students on their campuses.
AMCHA Initiative is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to combating anti-Semitism at colleges and universities in the United States.