Anti-Israel Student Groups Set Stage for Another Divisive Year on Campus

New York, NY, October 11, 2011 … On the eve of a significant gathering of anti-Israel student activists at Columbia University in New York, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today raised concern about emerging trends on campus designed to delegitimize Israel and silence its supporters, including refusals to dialogue with pro-Israel groups and efforts to shout down and intimidate speakers.

"While students have every right to express their views, we are concerned about tactics that seek to marginalize Israel supporters and create tension. It can have a chilling effect on free speech," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "When opposition to the state of Israel means interrupting speeches or attempting to intimidate other students into silence, it runs counter to the values of academic freedom."

The League has issued a new report analyzing the recent trends and tactics employed by anti-Israel student groups, including the latest efforts by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the primary organizers of anti-Israel events on campus.

SJP plans to hold a conference from October 14-16 at Columbia University to create a national SJP coalition among the disparate SJP chapters that exist on more than 75 college campuses across the United States. The League has previously expressed concern about the on-campus efforts of American Muslims for Palestine, an organization that has helped facilitate the growth and advocacy of SJP.

"The concern is that these campus activists are pushing their opposition to the state of Israel through calls for divestment and other extreme rhetoric, such as comparing Israel's policies to Nazism and labeling the Jewish State as a 'racist' or 'apartheid state,' said Mr. Foxman.

In the 2010-2011 academic year, according to ADL, university and college campuses across the U.S. were host to a variety of campaigns, tours and programs designed to demonize Israel and portray Israelis and the aggressors and perpetuators of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Some of the trends highlighted in the report include:

  • Anti-Israel groups refusing to dialogue with their pro-Israel counterparts;
  • Support for international "break the siege" of Gaza campaigns;
  • A greater incidence of university departments sponsoring explicit anti-Israel events.