MORE THAN 70% OF UC STUDENTS HAVE WITNESSED OR EXPERIENCED ANTI-SEMITISM, NEW SURVEY REVEALS
Will be released at 1st Public Meeting of UC Taskforce Formed to Address Recent Rash of Anti-Semitism
Contact: Nicole Rosen
Los Angeles, CA, Oct. 26, 2015 – More than 70% of the 229 self-identified University of California (UC) Jewish students who participated in an online survey reported witnessing or experiencing anti-Semitism on campus, according to a survey conducted by AMCHA Initiative in October. The results also revealed that one-third of respondents felt campus administrators were not sensitive to Jewish student concerns and three-quarter of respondents reported that BDS campaigns promote hostile actions toward Jewish students on campus.
The survey was conducted from October 13 – October 22. The survey was open to all Jewish students and was disseminated through Jewish organizations on campus, such as Hillel, Chabad, and the Jewish fraternity AEPi, as well through Jewish student leaders on UC campuses.
High levels of anti-Semitism at UC
More than 70% of the respondents had witnessed or experienced on their campuses one or more of the following forms of anti-Jewish bigotry:
- Heckling, offensive remarks or name-calling directed at them or other Jewish students –40%
- Anti-Semitic graffiti or symbols (eg. swastikas) – 47%
- Their property or the property of other Jewish students damaged or destroyed – 25%
- Threats or acts of physical violence directed at them or other Jewish students (eg. spitting, punching, kicking) – 14%
- False accusations or disparaging remarks made against them or other Jewish students – 50%
- Email or social media postings with hateful or derogatory language about Jews sent or posted by fellow students – 45%
Anti-Semitic Rhetoric Used During BDS Campaigns is Creating a Hostile Environment
- 80% of the respondents were aware of past, present or planned activities on their campuses promoting the anti-Israel BDS movement.
- Of those respondents who were aware of BDS activity on their campuses, 78% said that they felt BDS-related activities on their campuses have promoted, or could promote, hostile actions towards Jewish students on their campuses.
- 29% of the respondents said that they have personally felt hostile attitudes or actions directed towards themselves as Jewish students as a result of BDS activities on their campuses.
Students Feel UC Administrators Unresponsive
- More than one-third of the respondents (35%) felt that campus administrators were not sensitive to Jewish student concerns.
“These numbers are very distressing,” stated Professor Leila Beckwith, AMCHA Initiative cofounder and the lead author of this survey. Beckwith is a UCLA emeritus professor who has decades of experience in scientific research. “The problem is even more widespread than most recognize.”
Anecdotal Experiences Shared by Students (All direct quotes from survey)
Anti-Israel Groups Target All Jewish Students, Regardless of Their Feelings on Israel
- When in a SUA meeting for a bill supporting Israel the members of sjp for a short while were shouting things like down with Israel, but also someone chimed in down with Jews. Also one of my friends wearing a yarmulke walking into the library had a member of sjp wearing a border patrol uniform say Hitler was right. (UCSC)
- I’m in a Jewish interest sorority and during divestment we’re encouraged not to wear letters because a few times people have come up to sisters during divestment and have started heckling them about BDS stuff. I try and stay away from anything having to do with BDS as much as possible because it makes me uncomfortable. In fact during BDS I actually avoid Hillel, the quad, and even my sorority because I just really don’t want to have to deal with how unsafe campus feels during that time. Everyone in my entire Jewish sphere is stressed and anxious and I have never experienced that level of discomfort in my community until coming to UC Davis. (UCD)
- There have been many times where students in SJP, the organization at our school that pushed for BDS, have threatened to protest at Jewish events. Most recently we held an event about rising anti-semitism on college campuses, it was off campus at the Jewish resource center and was very clearly a Jewish not an Israel event and they spoke about protesting it on their Facebook page. They have also protested in front of the Chabad rabbi for UCSC’s house around the high holidays this past year. Our rabbi has never been outspoken on campus about his pro-Israel views other than possibly attending some events, it was clearly an anti-semitic act and not one of just being anti-Israel. (UCSC)
- They have not made a distinction between the activities of some Israelis and Jewish people in general. This has led to antisemitic sentiment on campus and a hostile climate. (UCD)
I have been called an “Israeli terrorist” and “Dirty Jew” many times. I have seen students posting pro-Nazi things, and saying that all Israelis deserve to die on social media amongst a few other things. (UCD)
- Throughout the Israel Independence Fair there were a bunch of students holding up signs claiming that Israelis were terrorists and that Jews were the reason for the deaths of their families. Furthermore, I frequently see videos posted online about “Terror attacks cause by Jews in Israel.” (UCLA)
- Because being anti-Israel inherently becomes anti-Jewish. Every Jew is seen as very strongly pro-Israel (even though this is not the case) and therefore “bad” in eyes of students who support BDS. (UCSD)
- It’s obvious how BDS often resorts to targeting, singling out, and conflating Jewish students with Israeli policies. (UCI)
The Rhetoric and Actions Targeting Students Go Well Beyond Political or Scholarly Debate
- My friend was out at night and a student from SJP called her demeaning names and spat at her. (UCSD)
- Student senators who voted against Divestment got a lot of hate mail and threats. (UCD)
Any time a BDS activity occurs on campus, the amount of swastikas found in libraries has gone up. Also, the amount of anti-Jewish posts…increases. (UCI)
- Another was people blatantly calling for an intifada and the killing of Jews during a protest on campus. (UCB)
- The divestment resolution period was one of the most toxic environments that I have seen for Jewish students on this campus. The amount of vitriol and hate coming from the pro divestment side was enormous. (UCD)
- I was physically assaulted in an elevator in 2013. I heard my friend get called a “zionist kike” by SJP. Today, I was called a “kike” on campus by SJP. My two female friends and I were shoved to the ground and physically assaulted at our own Israel event in 2014…I am afraid to be on this campus. (UCI)
BDS Creates a Hostile Environment on Campus
- These activities introduce a bias in people’s views of Judaism and blame Jews for actions they aren’t responsible for. It’s the night of the broken glass all over again – one Jewish person messes up and all of a sudden it’s on all of us. It’s just morally wrong and culturally insensitive to protest against Judaism without hearing the whole story. (UCSC)
- BDS allows people on campus to openly attack Jewish students’ identities. Student government over the last 2 years has been solely focused on BDS and forgotten the students’ needs. (UCLA)
- It is not uncommon to observe hateful remarks against Jewish students/people being made while discussing BDS (UCD)
- BDS sets a tone of exclusion on the campus. It’s only logical that hostile attitudes and actions would stem from this. (UCI)
- Views from the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement should be expressed on college campuses. After all, we as people deserve to hear the opinions of others, even if we disagree. However, such a divisive topic has certainly led to hate and negativity being spread throughout my campus. (UCB)
- Whenever BDS presents the divestment resolution on campus, the entire campus climate changes. My so called friends who are against Israel stop talking to me and the campus splits. My anxiety increases three fold and I genuinely experience PTSD after the meeting. (UCSB)
[As a result of BDS] I don’t feel comfortable showing my faith anymore. Simple as that. (UCD)
“The student quotes show unequivocally that many anti-Israel activists target, harass and intimidate Jewish students, regardless of how that student feels about Israel. They also demonstrate the frightening extent to which anti-Israel BDS campaigns are steeped in anti-Semitic themes and lead to anti-Jewish incitement and behavior,” said Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA Initiative cofounder and director and one of the authors of the survey. “We urge UC to adopt the State Department definition of anti-Semitism which understands when scholarly criticism ends and anti-Semitism begins.”
The survey results will be shared with members of the UC Regents Working Group on Intolerance at their first public meeting today. The UC group was formed in September after thousands of students, faculty, parents, alumni, rabbis, advocacy groups and concerned citizens drew attention to the alarming rise of anti-Semitism at UC. The group is comprised of Regents, a UC chancellor and university faculty.
UC has experienced many incidents of anti-Jewish discrimination of late. In the last month since school resumed, swastikas and “F*** Jews” were carved into two cars and tires were slashed on multiple vehicles at UC Davis and a female Jewish student at UC San Diego was followed and harassed by a male SJP student who yelled “racist Zionist cow” at her. Last year, swastikas were spray-painted on a Jewish fraternity after fraternity brothers spoke against divesting from Israel, “grout out the Jews” and “Hitler did nothing wrong” was carved into school property after contentious BDS campaigns, a Hillel event for the LGBT community was protested and disrupted by anti-Israel students and faculty, flyers blaming Israel AND all Jews for 9/11 were plastered on campus and a Jewish student running for office was questioned about her eligibility by anti-Israel activists simply because of her religion. UC Jewish students report feeling afraid to tell fellow students they are Jewish, walk to the Hillel house for Sabbath dinner and wear a Jewish star necklace. Many report being bullied, harassed, intimidated and assaulted.
Over the past nine months, more than 50 Jewish organizations, including ADL, AJC, Hillel, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and AMCHA and more than 3,000 UC students, faculty, alumni, California residents, rabbis, Jewish day school principals and educators, including the world’s preeminent scholars of anti-Semitism, have written to UC in support of adopting an accurate definition of modern anti-Semitism to properly identify and educate the campus community about contemporary Jew-hatred. Specifically, the groups have urged the adoption of the State Department definition of anti-Semitism.
The U.S. State Department definition recognizes that contemporary anti-Semitism has assumed various disguised forms and, as the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found, is often “camouflaged as anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism.” The State Department definition acknowledges activity that demonizes and delegitimizes Israel and denies its right to exist as anti-Semitism.
AMCHA Initiative is a non-profit organization, based in California, dedicated to combating antisemitism at institutions of higher education in America.