Religion

Report Links Anti-Israel Campus Groups To Anti-Semitism

| by Michael Doherty
A student residence hall at Purdue.A student residence hall at Purdue.

A report released by a Jewish college advocacy group suggests that the anti-Israel "Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions" movement on college campuses is often linked to anti-Semitic incidents.

Amcha Initiative, a group founded by two University of California professors in response to an increase in anti-Semitic threats and bullying on campuses, released the report on March 14, according to Religion News. Amcha Initiative's report, titled "Antisemitic Activity in 2015 at U.S. Colleges and Universities With the Largest Jewish Undergraduate Populations," describes more than 300 anti-Semitic actions on campuses, including Jewish students being physically threatened, and anti-Jewish graffiti.

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement is a campaign calling for Israel to grant full equality to its Arab-Palestinian citizens as well as end its occupation of lands owned by Palestine. There were more than 520 BDS events on campuses in 2014, and many of these included referendums on divestment in Israel, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL has done work to counter the BDS movement, including workshops teaching Jewish students how to respond to anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments on campus.

Amcha's report found that 99 percent of universities with anti-Israel groups had one or more anti-Semitic incidents on campus, while only 16 percent of schools without such groups had incidents.

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Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis professor of religion and chair of the university's pro-BDS group Edward Curtis said that because of its loose definition of anti-Semitism, Amcha Initiative's report was not credible.

"Because the report equates any criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, it is a fundamentally flawed and deeply cynical piece of propaganda," said Curtis.

 "The Amcha report takes a serious problem, anti-Semitism, and uses it as a crude rhetorical cudgel against the group’s political opponents."

The rise of anti-Semitism on American campuses was also studied in a 2015 report published by Trinity College and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, which reported that 54 percent of Jewish college students had faced anti-Semitism in the first half of the 2013 - 2014 school year.

Source: Religion News, Anti-Defamation League / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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