The 2020–21 academic year was marked by a pattern of anti-Israel groups “blatantly demonizing pro-Israel and Zionist students” on college campuses, according to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League.
Anti-Israel groups, led by Students for Justice in Palestine, called for Israel to be “dismantled or denied its right to exist,” expressed “violent” resistance to Israel, and sought to exclude pro-Israel students from campus life, the report said. Some anti-Israel groups and activists drew on anti-Semitic tropes, such as alleging Jewish or Zionist control of the media and politics. The report also noted that the COVID-19 pandemic did not appear to hinder the anti-Israel movement on campus.
The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel was the “cornerstone” of anti-Israel campus activity in the past academic year, the report found. Of the 17 student governments that considered BDS resolutions, 11 passed them. The report cited the example of Pomona College in California, where the student government passed a BDS resolution that would have forced Jewish and pro-Israel student groups to pledge support for BDS before being eligible for university funding. However, after public outcry, the college revised its resolution.
The conflict between Israel and Hamas in May was a “flashpoint” for anti-Israel activism, with such activity occurring at “the highest rate in recent memory,” the report stated. The New York Times reported that the conflict resulted in 200 people dead in Israel and the occupied territories, with the vast majority of them Palestinians killed by Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.
The ADL report follows a previous survey from the organization and Hillel International, which found 32 percent of Jewish college students said they personally experienced anti-Semitism directed at them on campus or by a member of their college community within the last year. Thirty-one percent of Jewish students reported witnessing anti-Semitic activity on campus that was not directed to them, and 18 percent said they’d witnessed anti-Semitic symbols, logos or posters, including swastikas drawn on campus.