In a comprehensive analysis unveiled today by the AMCHA Initiative, a stark double standard in the responses of U.S. universities to traumatic events involving different student communities has come to light. The report focuses on statements issued by academic institutions after the October 7th massacre by Hamas, contrasting them with responses following the murder of George Floyd in 2020 and the surge in attacks against Asian Americans in 2021.
The AMCHA Initiative’s study, titled “Selective Sympathy: The Double Standard in Confronting Jewish Student Trauma and Antisemitism after the October 7th Massacre,” examines nearly 100 statements from college and university leaders following the Hamas attack. The findings indicate a troubling discrepancy in how these institutions address the concerns of Jewish students compared to their African-American and Asian peers.
Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, director of AMCHA and a lead researcher of the report, emphasized the unique challenges faced by Jewish students after the October 7th attack by Hamas. The study reveals that the majority of school leaders failed to adequately address the trauma and fears for safety and security among Jewish students. Moreover, the analysis exposes a clear discriminatory double standard, with less responsiveness to Jewish students compared to their African-American and Asian counterparts.
The report underscores the importance of acknowledging the source of trauma and ensuring security by accurately characterizing its origins. The researchers argue that, given the unprecedented nature of the Hamas attack on the Jewish community, an appropriate response should include an unequivocal condemnation of the attack, acknowledgment of its perpetrator (Hamas), and recognition of its antisemitic motivation.
Key findings from the report highlight the failure of leadership and the existence of a double standard:
- While almost all statements condemned incidents affecting Black and Asian/Asian American communities, only 65% of post-October 7th statements condemned the Hamas attack, with 60% of those statements accusing Israel of perpetrating violence.
- Statements regarding the emotional trauma suffered by Black and Asian/Asian American communities were acknowledged by 90% to 100% of leaders, while only 14% acknowledged the trauma of Jewish campus members, and a mere 5% offered support or resources.
- While 100% of statements identified racism and anti-Asian hate as motivators, only 4% identified the antisemitic motivation of the Hamas attack, and just 2% committed to addressing antisemitism.
The researchers assert that the revealed double standard in these statements indicates a broader pattern of discrimination in addressing antisemitism and protecting Jewish students on college campuses. The report warns that this discrepancy contributes to unprecedented levels of antisemitism in educational institutions.
According to Rossman-Benjamin, the issue extends beyond the post-October 7th statements, pointing to a larger and deeply rooted problem. The researchers suggest that school harassment policies, which obligate administrators to respond promptly and vigorously to abuse directed at “protected” identity groups, may contribute to this double standard.
The report acknowledges efforts by some schools, such as Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania, to address rising antisemitism. However, it emphasizes that such initiatives are unlikely to succeed unless schools first acknowledge and rectify the unfair double standards applied to Jewish students.
In conclusion, the researchers urge schools to dismantle the discriminatory double standard in their policies and establish new measures guaranteeing equal protection to all students, emphasizing that this is essential to combat the escalating antisemitism on campuses nationwide.