The Dangerous Rise of Antisemitism on College Campuses
In recent times, college campuses have become hotbeds of antisemitic sentiments, intensifying following the tragic events of October 7th, when Hamas, a terrorist organization, committed heinous acts against Israelis. This surge in antisemitism poses a significant challenge to Jewish students and staff, who, instead of finding solace and support in their educational environments, are confronted with hostility and discrimination.
The alarming trend is exemplified by the activities of the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). This organization has been at the forefront of anti-Israel and antisemitic campaigns on campuses. SJP has not only marginalized Jewish students through its anti-Zionist stance but has also dangerously glorified violence and terrorism under the guise of resistance. Their refusal to differentiate between civilians and militants and the endorsement of armed confrontation are deeply concerning and exacerbate the climate of fear and intimidation for Jewish students.
Several SJP chapters across various universities have openly supported violence and terrorism. For instance, the George Washington University SJP explicitly rejected the distinction between civilians and militants. Similarly, the CUNY Law chapter affirmed the “right to armed resistance,” while the Tufts University chapter praised the creativity of “liberation fighters.” The University of Illinois chapter shared content that appeared to support Hamas terrorism. These instances reflect a disturbing normalization of violence and hate speech on campuses.
Moreover, the problem is not confined to student organizations. Some university professors have been reported to endorse these extremist views, further legitimizing them. From public declarations supporting Hamas’s actions at Cornell University to faculty at Georgetown University dismissing the Jewish connection to Israel, the academic environment has become increasingly hostile to Jewish and Israeli students.
This hostility has also manifested in physical intimidation and threats. Incidents like the protest at Cooper Union and the altercation near Tulane University, where protesters tried to burn an Israeli flag, illustrate the severity of the situation. At Cornell University, Jewish students were specifically targeted with violent online threats, prompting intervention from law enforcement and the FBI.
In response to this crisis, organizations like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) are urging universities to take decisive actions. These include distancing from antisemitic rhetoric, investigating student groups like SJP for potential violations of conduct codes, and ensuring campus safety. The ADL’s recommendations, in line with the U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, call for comprehensive measures to create a safe and inclusive environment for Jewish students. These measures include antisemitism awareness education, endorsing the International Holocaust Remembrance Association’s definition of antisemitism, and forming task forces to address and improve Jewish life on campuses.
University leadership must acknowledge and address this rise in antisemitism. Ensuring academic freedom and debate does not mean remaining silent on issues of hate and violence. Universities must proactively use their influence and resources to foster an environment where all students, regardless of their background or beliefs, can feel safe and supported. The current situation demands more than just adherence to academic principles; it requires a committed and concrete response to safeguard the well-being and rights of Jewish students and staff on college campuses.