Study exposes universities’ anti-Jewish bias

American colleges demonstrated an ‘anti-Jewish’ double standard when it comes to antisemitic hate, study finds.

By Dion J. Pierre, The Algemeiner

US universities have demonstrated an “anti-Jewish double standard” by responding to Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel and the ensuing surge in campus antisemitism much less forcefully than they did to crimes perpetrated against African Americans and Asians, according to a new study by the AMCHA Initiative, a nonprofit that combats antisemitism.

The study — titled “Selective Sympathy: The Double Standard in Confronting Jewish Student Trauma & Antisemitism” — found that only 4 percent of statements from US colleges and universities on the Oct. 7 onslaught identified the Palestinian terror group’s attack as antisemitic. Just 2 percent of the statements committed to addressing antisemitism.

“Our analysis showed that most leaders’ statements failed to adequately acknowledge Jewish students’ trauma and fears about antisemitism or to offer sympathy, support, and assurances of protection following the Hamas attack,” AMCHA researchers wrote in the report. “Importantly, we also found an unambiguous and discriminatory double standard, with leaders being far less responsive to Jewish students than to their African American and Asian/Asian American peers in the aftermath of traumatic events affecting them.”

Another key finding of the study was that only 14 percent of university statements issued after the Hamas atrocities acknowledged the trauma that the massacre had on Jewish members of the campus community, and just 65 percent condemned the Hamas attack, with many of them also blaming Israel for its policies toward Palestinians.

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In contrast, the report found, that nearly 100 percent of university statements issued after the killing of George Floyd and during a rise in anti-Asian violence “unequivocally condemned the incidents affecting Blacks and Asians/Asian Americans” and “acknowledged the emotional trauma suffered by their Black and Asian/Asian American communities following attacks targeting members of those communities.”

Meanwhile, 100 percent of statements “named racism and anti-Asian hate as the motivator of their respective incidents,” and more than 90 percent “committed to addressing bigotry directed against Blacks and Asians/Asian Americans.”

“Make no mistake: this is so much bigger than the post-Oct. 7 statements. Those statements are just a symptom of a much larger and deep-seated problem,” AMCHA executive director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin said in a statement. “School leaders who respond appropriately to group trauma affecting Black and Asian students, but who are unwilling to do the same for Jewish students — despite the legitimacy of their fears and anxieties and the current threats to their safety — cannot be trusted to keep Jewish students safe.”

The AMCHA researchers added in their study: “The problem is not that Jewish students don’t fit into the ‘protected’ categories of their school’s harassment policy, but rather that they must fit into any category at all before getting the robust protection that all students deserve, and that is an essential moral and fiduciary duty of every college and university — public or private — to provide.”

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The new study came amid a surge in antisemitic incidents on college campuses, which have increased by 700 percent since Oct. 7, according to Hillel International Executive Director Adam Lehman. Perceiving an increasingly hostile environment to Jews on campus, 37 percent of Jewish college students have felt the need to hide their Jewish identity on campus since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre, according to a recent poll released by Hillel International.

Antisemitism around the world, especially in the US and Europe, has spiked to record levels since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war in October. A recent report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), for example, recorded 832 outrages targeting American Jews between Oct. 7 and Nov. 7 — an average of 28 incidents per day and a 316 percent increase on the same period in 2022. Throughout Europe, meanwhile, countries such as France and Germany have recorded unprecedented increases in antisemitic incidents since the Hamas pogrom in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

College campuses across the West have been hubs of such antisemitism over the past several weeks, with students and faculty both demonizing Israel and rationalizing Hamas; terror onslaught. Incidents of harassment and even violence against Jewish students have also increased. As a result, Jewish students have expressed feeling unsafe and unprotected on campuses. In some cases, Jewish communities on campuses have been forced to endure threats of rape and mass slaughter.

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On Tuesday, US lawmakers on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce grilled the presidents of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) about their plans to respond to surging antisemitism on their campuses. In one tense exchange, all three gave indirect answers when asked by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), a Harvard alumnus, whether calling for the genocide of Jews constituted bullying and harassment.

“It is a context-dependent decision, congresswoman,” Penn president Elizabeth Magill said. “If the speech becomes conduct, it can be harassment, yes.”

“Conduct meaning committing the act of genocide?” Stefanik asked, visibly disturbed by Magill’s answer. “The speech is not harassment? This is unacceptable Ms. Magill.”

Asked the same question, Claudine Gay of Harvard also said calling for the genocide of Jews “can be [considered bullying or harassment] depending on the context.”