Anti-Semitism on College Campuses

@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.


LMK5’s point about making Jewish students feel uncomfortable and unwelcome is legitimate and serious. But it’s hard to imagine an anti-Israel protest that does not have that effect. Both the government of Israel and most American Jewish supporters of Israel insist on the absolute identity of “Israel” and the Jewish people. That’s the base of the argument that anti-Israel sentiment is antisemitic, and emotionally that’s why attacks on Israel feel like attacks on Jews.

Furthermore, it’s wrong to suggest that if you really wanted to change Israeli policy you would demonstrate at the Israeli embassy (which may, in any event, be a long way from most college campuses). Israel’s ability to pursue its current policies is highly dependent on the support and acquiescence of the United States and of American Jews. If Israel lost the support of American Jews, one way or another it would have to revise its policies radically. Unsettling American Jews’ support for Israel and/or its government is a pretty legitimate (and achievable) goal for protesters.

Back in the day, there were lots of campus protests against South African apartheid and its bantustan policy. No one much stopped to think whether we were making Afrikaaner students feel unwelcome, There weren’t many (and?) Afrikaaner students, as far as I know. I never met any. But I’m sure if they were around they were not rushing to identify themselves, precisely for this reason.

@TheGreyKing - I agree with you that Jewish students should not be silenced on campus. Unfortunately, Jews in social media companies, entertainment, academia, and main stream media are often leading the charge to silence viewpoints they disagree with. People notice. I’m not sure if that relates to the backlash that you’re seeing.

But would a protest specifically against (for example) an Israeli government policy or laws with respect to (for example) the West Bank or minorities in Israel be seen as inherently anti-Jewish? (Granted, it may be difficult for such a protest not to attract the nasty bigots that tend to be attracted to such, but let’s suppose such a thing happens without that happening.)

@JHS- That is a false equivalency. Israel is not an apartheid state. In its Declaration of Independence, it says: “THE STATE OF ISRAEL will… foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants;… it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions.”

South Africa had laws enforcing segregation. Israel does not.
Israeli Arab citizens serve in the Israeli government, attend Israeli universities and schools alongside Jews, etc. Those who accept Israeli citizenship are full citizens.

Alas, this does not mean there is not any prejudice in society. And Netanyahu has aligned himself with far right groups just as Trump has done in the USA. College students can oppose some Israeli policies without opposing Israel itself, just as many Israelis themselves do.

Palestinian groups such as Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, are not advocating for either a shared one state or an amicable two state solution. They are advocating for the destruction of the state of Israel and complete removal of Jews to be replaced by Palestinians, “from the river to the sea,” and they are carrying out acts of violence against Israeli citizens.

Lots of nations have tensions between ethnic groups and land disputes. Lots limit the rights of some of their inhabitants and are much less democratic than Israel. Yet Israel is the only country in the world that it is socially acceptable and common for US college students to argue should not exist altogether. Why? The only possible reason for the singling out of the world’s only Jewish majority state for this unique censure is Anti-Semitism.

And the reality of being a Jew on a college campus these days is one of being constantly subjected to casually anti-Semitic comments like another poster’s comment above about how all Jews should expect “backlash” due to anger at some “Jews” presumably in control of the “media.”

Hitler also thought the Jews were secretly “in control.” And before Hitler, German Jews integrated into German society thought they were secure as citizens in their country, just as American Jews do today.

My family was not passionate about defending Israel until my son went to college. The constant scary comments in the Israel-Palestine issue on campus and elsewhere have made my family realize how hated and endangered Jews still are in today’s world and how important Israel is to our survival.

(I am heading to vacation now and may not be online for a few days.)

Seems like exaggerated trumped up fears of minorities among the majority population leading to increased bigotry against minorities.

Am guessing this has been shared already, but just in case:

. The NYU president later apologized. But geez…


Nope. DISAGREE. Strongly. The current situation in Israel (bad) is a very convenient excuse for the age-old, worldwide anti-semitism. Israel is a proxy. Israel is the Jew among nations.

I think I’ll get reprimanded or banned if I say anything about politics, but suffice it to say that I am a liberal Zionist, in the tradition of Habonim, and am vehemently opposed to BDS and the like.

Regarding the common anti-Israel protests at UCI, the engineering school is named for Henry Samueli, a very prominent Jewish philanthropist in the Orange County area. Do the UCI anti-Israel protesters refuse to take classes in a school funded with Jewish, pro-Israel money? I’m guessing not.

Just to clarify, as you can see, I never wrote that Jewish students should expect backlash.

There is certainly a perception that powerful Jewish figures are leading the charge to ban and deplatform people they disagree with and I was simply wondering if that is translating to anti-Jewish sentiment on campus.

Also, it is astounding that politicians are considering legislation making it a crime to protest Israel via the BDS movement. That is flat out anti-American. Perhaps that has some effect as well.

First, I disagree with your premise (or “perception” of the premise) that Jews on campus—to the exclusion of others—are “leading the charge.” That itself is consistent with age-old anti-semitic conspiracy theories and the notion that the Jews are bringing it on themselves. Second—notwithstanding my rejection of the premise—this is how you figure out whether one particular “behavior” or “action” by Jews is “responsible” for anti-semitic sentiment: Completely eliminate the matter in question, and ask yourself if anti-semitic actions will promptly cease.

Because the politicians supporting this legislation realize that BDS is not a simple protest of Israel. It is an organization dedicated to the elimination of Israel. And these legislators know what can and will happen when ant-semitism runs rampant. In Germany, the swastika is illegal, and anti-semitic speech is illegal. They already lived it. They are not interested in a repeat.

That said, I agree that we should not ban it. Just as the ACLU defended the Nazis in Skokie—and MANY Jews resigned from ACLU or stopped donating because of that—we have to allow protestors of all persuasions to protest. The response to ugly speech should be more speech, not a shut-down of speech.