Anti-Semitism on College Campuses

Does this type of SJP/BDS activism exist in the U.S. outside the bubble of college campuses? I am talking specifically about the “activism” that translates into harassment of Jewish students. Does it move into the workplace?

SJPers at elite colleges will be working side by side with Jews of all ages in banks, government, consulting companies, etc. They’ll be attending graduate or professional schools with Jews. How will the harassing behavior fly in those settings? It would be troubling if they attempted to grab the microphone away from a Jewish colleague giving a presentation, or interrupted a Jewish doctor giving grand rounds, or if they slipped eviction notices under the doors of their Jewish colleagues’ offices or homes. Or if they vacated a corporate lunch table when a Jewish colleague came over to join them (as was done repeatedly at Oberlin, according to reports). What about affinity groups or cultural groups at work? Google is famous for this. Are SJP/BDS activists at Google disrupting the “Jewglers’” (that’s what they call themselves!) activities? Jewlgers around the globe build a Sukkah inside the offices. Passover services were disrupted by BDS activists at University of Michigan. Do the activists dare do that at Google?

I wonder if there are reports of what happens with these SJP/BDS activists after college?

ETA: Actually, I answered my own question. There was the medical resident who stated she would sabotage Jews’ medical treatment at her hospital in Ohio. She was fired.

@AriBenSion - Just want to clarify: the comments you allude to were comments made in an op-ed sent in by some students at the college, not by the student editorial board of the student newspaper. The student newspaper’s reporting on this issue was balanced and fair. And they received and published op-eds from students both for and against WIFI.

But yes, the College Council’s singling out of WIFI, as the only group in at least the last recorded decade of the college’s history not to be accepted as a registered student organization, was very disturbing.

@AriBenSion @TheGreyKing The administration at Williams recently bypassed the student government and gave WIFI official RSO status. Considering that the president herself teaches Jewish history at the college, this decision was not at all surprising, and it does send a message of support to students who may have felt unsafe due to the controversy.

^Yes, WIFI has now become an RSO through a different process, involving administrators as well as students.

It is a real learning experience to see that, as a student, your voice can make a difference. The students who spoke up for their beliefs and did not back down when faced with opposition, soon received an outpouring of support from media, alumni, etc., from throughout the U.S. and even in Israel, that changed the dynamic and allowed WIFI to be recognized.

Evidence of the power of a free press in preserving people’s rights in a democracy: twice in the past few weeks, the press and the alumni were updated by the college sooner than the students were. Today was the second time that the college sent a message to alumni on this topic, which indicates how concerned the college must be about perceptions of it following this incident.

For anyone reading this thread with any anxiety about whether to apply to Williams, please be reassured that it is a great place to go to college. In addition to the fact that there has been similar anti-Israel sentiment at many other colleges, it is also true, as the rabbi at Williams wrote in the letter to alumni, that “Williams continues to be a school that supports the flourishing of Jewish life, as the vibrancy of programming run at the JRC and across campus, run by student leaders in WCJA and in other groups, amply demonstrates.”

@TheGreyKing Those are good points to make! Williams is not at all unique with regards to these incidents happening on campus, and it is evident that the college cares about the opinions of students and alumni.

Events at NYU:

The reason my original post in this thread introduced an exploration the experience of anti-Israel sentiment as related to anti-Semitic sentiment on campus is that one is almost always based in the other, despite assertions to the contrary.

Here is a quote from a recent college discussion:

Source of quote:

Between these quotes, and experiences recounted above by students in other colleges, including the exclusion of a Jewish student from a UC council solely because she was Jewish, eviction notices slipped under Jewish students’ doors at some colleges, and the physical assault of a Jewish student at NYU, it is obvious that anti-Semitism is a growing problem on college campuses.

Interestingly, these include colleges where otherwise students preach acceptance of minority groups and awareness of microaggressions against members of those groups. Much of the anti-Semitism is being perpetrated by students who consider themselves progressive. Jews: the one group the far-left and the far-right can agree to hate.

Unfortunately, you’re right; there’s pockets of intolerance everywhere. Trans students often report very similar experiences, receiving thinly veiled disgust or appalling ignorance even from professed progressives, staunch feminists (e.g. “gender-critical” feminists/TERFs), and other people under the queer umbrella.

I wonder if it would be worthwhile for prospective students to investigate the percentage of Jewish students on campus before deciding if a college is a good fit. Some of the elite colleges have noticeably lower percentages of Jewish students than others (e.g. Penn has 10 times as many Jewish students as nearby Swarthmore, 17.4% vs. 1.8%).

It sounds like many of the students in the quotation above need a good history class.

@warblersrule I don’t think it is the percentage of Jews that makes the difference when it comes to anti-Semitism. NYU has a large proportion of Jews and one of the worst anti-Semitism problems on campus right now. A lot of it comes down to the administration and culture of the campus.

Something is off in your numbers. Swarthmore has much, much more than 1.8% Jewish students. Swarthmore is quite small – only about 1,600 students total. If its Jewish population were 1.8%, that would amount to fewer than 30 Jews. Trust me, there are many more than 30 Jewish students at Swarthmore (and lots more Jewish faculty, too).

For that matter, 17.4% seems awfully small for Penn, but I can’t say it’s completely wrong. The presence of lots of Jewish graduate and professional students (and faculty) means that there is a large, vibrant Jewish community there – actually multiple large, vibrant Jewish communities. In the past 50 years, Penn has only had one non-Jewish president!

@warblersrule Swarthmore is 16% Jewish according to The Forward and other sources. But agree there are anti-Israel movements there as at other colleges/universities.

Good call, @JHS. I accidentally posted the percentage for Widener (60 Jewish undergrads, 3427 total) when I searched for Swat on

In any case, my basic point was that many of the top colleges seem to have noticeably larger Jewish communities than others. One could pick other examples such as Rice (5.6%) and Tulane (42.8%).

Vanderbilt at one time had very, very few Jewish students. Then they intentionally worked to increase the percentage of Jewish students.

Yes, Vandy did that it increase the jewish population— IIRC that was in around 2002-3.

**ETA I just checked the article date-- yup- thats when it was!

I’m wondering how colleges allow open protests against Jews and Israel while at the same time regularly preach diversity and inclusion on campus? It seems to me these protests are strictly designed to make Jewish students feel uncomfortable. After all, if they intended for their protests to force change, wouldn’t they demonstrate in front of the Israeli Embassy or at least in a place where they are likely to get the attention of the local media?

If colleges allow open protest/ demonstrations against Israel on free-speech grounds, does that also mean that students can demonstrate against African nations as a cover for their views towards African Americans? Can they protest against gays because of their own religious beliefs? Seems hard to believe the universities would allow this.

Protesters and speakers who show up at universities to push anti-black views do not beat around the bush using African countries as proxy scapegoats.

@LMK5 - As someone who is proudly pro-Israel but also proud of our rights as Americans, I have no problem with colleges allowing students to engage in anti-Israel protests. They should. That is freedom of speech. But colleges should also zealously enforce the right of pro-Israel students to engage in counter-protests and educational efforts and to call out the anti-Semitism in anti-Zionism.

The problem is not that there are students who disagree strongly with Israeli policies and express their disagreement. The problem is that there is an attempt to silence pro-Israel students and delegitimize the identities and views of Jewish students.

Education, dialogue and exchanges of ideas should be encouraged among people with differing viewpoints on campus. Ideally, college campuses are a place for students to learn historical facts, begin to form their opinions, hear contrasting viewpoints that challenge their opinions, and revise their opinions as they hear new facts and new perspectives.

The other, equally huge problem is the rise of anti-Semitism. This needs to be called out so that students learn to recognize it, the same way they learn to recognize racism.

“The problem is that there is an attempt to silence pro-Israel students and delegitimize the identities and views of Jewish students.”

@TheGreyKing , can you tell me how the colleges execute this strategy or allow it to happen?

@LMK5- Please see the posts and links earlier in this thread, which contain descriptions of some such incidents, such as a pro-Israel club being rejected as a campus organization whereas Students for Justice in Palestine was accepted by the college council.