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Warns that Harvard and UPenn Plans to Tackle Spiking Antisemitism Likely to Fail in Current Climate


Contact: Nicole Rosen

Santa Cruz, CA, Dec 5, 2023 – A new report comparing statements issued by universities after Oct. 7 with statements issued by those same schools after George Floyd’s murder in 2020 and the spike in Asian American attacks in 2021 reveals an alarming double standard.  An AMCHA Initiative scientific analysis, released today, exposes that not only do the vast majority of school leaders fail to adequately address Jewish students’ trauma and fear for safety and security, but they also employ a clear discriminatory double standard, showing far less responsiveness to Jewish students than to their African American and Asian peers.

“The harrowing October 7th massacre by Hamas generated intense shock, horror and trauma that reverberated throughout the global Jewish community. For Jewish students, this devastating event triggered a dual crisis: Coping with the immediate shock and trauma of the deadliest attack on Jews in their lifetime, and confronting fears of a surge in antisemitism on their own campuses – fears that have become a frightening reality as antisemitic incidents on campus, already at an all-time high, spiked 700% since the Hamas attacks,” stated Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA director and one of the report’s lead researchers. “Our study revealed disturbing results:  School officials responded to Oct. 7 with a blatantly discriminatory double standard in comparison to their responses in the aftermath of similarly traumatizing events.”

AMCHA Initiative’s latest study, Selective Sympathy: The Double Standard in Confronting Jewish Student Trauma and Antisemitism after the October 7th Massacre,” critically examines the statements issued by nearly 100 college and university leaders following the Hamas attack. These statements were then compared to statements issued by leaders at the same schools in the wake of traumatic events affecting Black students (the George Floyd murder in 2020) and Asian/Asian American students (the murders of six Asian women in Atlanta in 2021).

The first step in responding to trauma and ensuring security moving forward is acknowledging and accurately characterizing its source, noted the researchers. Considering the brutality and scale of the Hamas attack – unprecedented in the lifetime of every Jewish college student – an adequate statement of response should at least include an unequivocal condemnation of the attack and an acknowledgment of its perpetrator (Hamas) and terrorist nature, argued the researchers. In addition, they added, given the genocidal antisemitism at the heart of Hamas’ founding charter, which includes a call for the murder of Jews worldwide, a statement clearly identifying the antisemitic motivation of the attack and an acknowledgement and commitment to increased support and security for Jewish students is essential.

Key findings in the report, however, indicate failed leadership and a double standard:

  • While nearly 100% of statements unequivocally condemned the traumatizing incidents affecting Blacks and Asians/Asian Americans, only 65% of the post-October 7th statements condemned the attack, and 60% of those statements accused Israel of perpetrating violence that harmed Palestinians or violated their civil rights. According to the researchers, this suggested moral equivalence likely diluted the sympathy and support felt by Jewish students.
  • While 90% to 100% of leaders’ statements acknowledged the emotional trauma suffered by their Black and Asian/Asian American communities following attacks targeting members of those communities, only 14% acknowledged the trauma of Jewish campus members, and only 5% offered support or resources.
  • While 100% of statements named racism and anti-Asian hate as the motivator of their respective incidents, and more than 90% committed to addressing bigotry directed against Blacks and Asians/Asian Americans, only 4% of statements identified the antisemitic motivation of the Hamas attack (despite Hamas’ public expressions of genocidal intent) and a mere 2% committed to addressing antisemitism.

According to the researchers, the double standard revealed in these statements is just the tip of the iceberg, indicating a pattern of discriminatory double standards when it comes to addressing antisemitism and protecting Jewish students.  This is both particularly alarming and it explains the unprecedented levels of antisemitism erupting on college campuses, noted the researchers.

“Make no mistake, this is so much bigger than the post-Oct. 7 statements.  Those statements are just a symptom of a much larger and deep-seated problem,” stated Rossman-Benjamin.  “School leaders who respond appropriately to group trauma affecting Black and Asian students, but who are unwilling to do the same for Jewish students - despite the legitimacy of their fears and anxieties and the current threats to their safety - cannot be trusted to keep Jewish students safe.”

Based on a previous study conducted by AMCHA Initiative, the researchers believe the discriminatory double standard is rooted in school harassment policies that obligate administrators to respond promptly and vigorously to abusive behavior directed at “protected” identity groups, but allow administrators to ignore equally abusive behavior directed at students who do not fit into “protected” identity categories, or which is not believed to be motivated by animus toward a “protected” group. This is often the case for Jewish students targeted by anti-Zionist motivated harassment, who are frequently deemed ineligible for coverage under school policy since many administrators do not consider support for Israel an expression of a Jewish student’s religious or ethnic identity.

“The problem is not that Jewish students don’t fit into the ‘protected’ categories of their school’s harassment policy,” the researchers contend, “but rather, that they must fit into any category at all before getting the robust protection that all students deserve, and that is an essential moral and fiduciary duty of every college and university – public or private – to provide.”

The report acknowledges that while some schools, including Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania, have announced new plans to address rising antisemitism, these plans are unlikely to succeed unless schools can first acknowledge the egregiously unfair double standards they apply to Jewish students.

“Unless schools dismantle the discriminatory double standard at the heart of their current policies and establish new policies guaranteeing equal protection to all students, they are unlikely to halt the antisemitism that is spiraling out of control on their campuses,” warned the researchers.


AMCHA Initiative is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to combating antisemitism at colleges and universities in the United States. The organization monitors more than 600 campuses for antisemitic activity, as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and the U.S. government. AMCHA is not a pro-Israel advocacy organization, nor does it take a position on current or past Israeli government policies; criticism of Israel that does not meet the IHRA and U.S. government criteria is not considered antisemitic by the organization. AMCHA has recorded more than 6,000 antisemitic incidents on college campuses since 2015 which can be accessed through its Antisemitism Tracker.

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