Surveys show Jewish students across America ‘feel less safe’ since Oct. 7th

73 percent of Jewish student respondents ‘feel less safe’ since Oct. 7, and 65 percent said BDS resolutions passed by universities pose a threat to Jewish campus life everywhere.

By Dion J. Pierre, The Algemeiner

Overwhelming majorities of Jewish students feel less safe at their colleges and universities amid an explosion of antisemitism across US campuses since Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, according to new survey results released by the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), a nonprofit that promotes education about the Jewish state.

As previously reported by The Algemeiner, the atrocities of Oct. 7 emboldened anti-Zionist activists, who have doubled down on efforts to bully — and at times, assault — Jewish students, shutter academic exchange programs linked to Israel, and force measures adopting the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against the Jewish state through student government and university governing bodies.

The campus climate has had a demonstrable effect on the psychology of Jewish students, said ICC’s survey, which was conducted on the group’s behalf by Schoen Cooperman Research.

It found that 73 percent of Jewish student respondents “feel less safe” since Oct. 7, and that 65 percent said the numerous BDS resolutions passed by university governments pose a threat to Jewish campus life everywhere.

According to the results, 77 percent of Jewish students believe the BDS movement is antisemitic, and 81 percent say it is important they use their voices to stand with the Jewish community on campus.

“Imagine if 81 percent of students from any other group felt targeted and unwelcome on campus,” ICC chief executive officer Jacob Baime told The Algemeiner. “For Jewish students, that’s the disturbing reality due to BDS votes. BDS is not about free speech. It’s about free hate. It’s time for university leaders to step in and cancel these votes.”

The BDS movement seeks to isolate Israel from the international community as a step toward the Jewish state’s eventual elimination.

The students who responded to the ICC survey are not retreating from the campus debate, however. Sixty-two percent of Jewish college students said opposing BDS rhetorically “is important,” and a majority added that taking concrete action to do so “is critical.”

“Despite these challenges, Jewish students have shown remarkable resilience, proudly standing up for Israel and their Jewish identity, as we have been supporting students around the clock,” Baime added. “Their strength and their determination in the face of adversity will only make them stronger as they continue to encounter antisemitism on campus after they graduate.”

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US college campuses have experienced an alarming spike in antisemitic incidents — including demonstrations calling for Israel’s destruction and the intimidation and harassment of Jewish students — since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre. Elite universities have been among the biggest hubs of such activity, with students and faculty both demonizing Israel and rationalizing the Hamas atrocities.

In December, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) noted that between the Oct. 7 onslaught in Israel and Dec. 7, the Jewish civil rights organization “recorded the highest number of antisemitic incidents ever recorded during any two-month period” in over 40 years of tracking such data.

On college campuses alone, the ADL recorded 470 antisemitic incidents between Oct. 7 and Dec. 18. During that same period, antisemitic incidents across the US skyrocketed by 323 percent compared to the prior year.

Experts have told The Algemeiner that the situation on college campuses would improve if the Biden administration issued long promised regulations that apply the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism to civil rights investigations — a measure, they argue, would help protect Jewish students from antisemitic discrimination and harassment rooted in anti-Zionism.

The regulations, based on a directive given in Dec. 2019 by then-US President Donald Trump in response to rising anti-Zionist hatred on college campuses, were scheduled to be issued already but have been delayed and will not be instituted until at least Dec. 2024, after the next US presidential election, according to a copy of the proposed rule on the website of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

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The IHRA definition of antisemitism — which has been adopted by dozens of governments and hundreds of civic institutions around the world — includes examples of anti-Israel bias, such as “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor,” “denying the Jewish people their right to self determination,” and “applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”