A new report by the Anti-Defamation League has found that anti-Israel groups on university campuses continue to vilify and ostracize pro-Israel and Jewish students.
The ADL’s “The Anti-Israel Movement on US Campuses, 2020-2021” report noted that Jewish students, “for whom a connection with Israel is an integral component of their religious, social, or cultural lives and identities,” are disproportionately impacted by the actions of the anti-Israel movement.
They identified these actions as spanning “from legitimate criticism of Israeli government policies to expressions of anti-Semitism from some activists.”
When rhetoric “veers into anti-Semitism,” it may include classic antisemitic tropes; denigrating Zionism as inherently racist; and demeaning students for identifying as pro-Israel and in some cases demanding their expulsion from campus spaces.
The report put a spotlight on Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which it said continued to be two of the “most influential” anti-Israel campus groups.
“One of the most common strategies of anti-Israel activists in 2020-2021 was to promote the view that any expression of a connection with or support for Israel is racist, thereby implicitly painting many Jewish students as being complicit in the alleged misdeeds of the Israeli government,” the report said. “Another tactic used by anti-Israel activists, many of whom are not Jewish, was to loudly insist that Zionism and support for Israel cannot be a part of Judaism, despite that for many Jewish students these are integral components of their Jewish identities.”
The report found that the BDS movement continued to be a “cornerstone” of anti-Israel campus activism. It listed 17 “BDS-inspired calls” in 2020-2021, of which 11 passed.
The report added: “BDS resolutions and related initiatives during the 2020-2021 academic year at times contained blatant misinformation or language intimating support for violence against Israel.”
While the conflict between Israel and Hamas in May was a “flashpoint for anti-Israel activity on campus” – during which “anti-Israel activity and inflammatory rhetoric was at the highest rate in recent memory” – the incidents that occurred that month had a lasting impact on the perceptions of Jewish students.
The report found that “the cumulative effect of the month’s events was that many Jewish students were left with a heightened sense of being isolated or under attack in particular when Jewish institutions were vandalized, which occurred on at least three occasions.”
Contributing to Jewish students’ sense of isolation was the significant increase in rhetoric equating Zionism with Naziism, calling for the end of the existence of the Jewish State, and statements supporting violence, the report found.