Antisemitism and the Radical Anti-Israel Movement on U.S. Campuses, 2019


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Executive Summary

  • In recent years, criticism of Israel has become endemic on college campuses across the U.S. While it is very likely that most of that criticism is a legitimate form of political discourse, some of the more radical expressions of anti-Israel sentiment can create an environment in which Jewish students, many of whom say they have a personal or religious connection with Israel, may feel besieged or threatened. Radical expressions of anti-Israel sentiment may include Israeli flags being removed from their displays, calls by student activists to boycott all pro-Israel groups on campus, the heckling of pro-Israel speakers and calling Israel a settler-colonial state.
  • Radical anti-Israel activism on campus is driven primarily by Students for Justice in Palestine, a network of pro-Palestinian student groups across the U.S. that disseminate frequently inflammatory anti-Israel propaganda. These groups sometimes ally with campus chapters of Jewish Voice for Peace, a radical anti-Israel activist group, whose Jewish origins and membership help shield its activism and rhetoric from charges of antisemitism.
  • Radical anti-Israel rhetoric and activities on campus often emerged from Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaigns against Israel; the implementation of annual Israeli Apartheid Week programs; the convening of conferences and lectures featuring all or almost all pro-BDS speakers; and events featuring Israeli or pro-Israel speakers, to which activists sometimes responded with heckling. Such activities can undermine efforts to normalize relations between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian movements and can contribute to broader efforts to delegitimize Israel as a sovereign state.
  • Anti-Israel rhetoric on campus can become antisemitic when it demonizes Zionism, thereby implicitly demonizing many American Jews. Throughout 2019, claims that Zionists are racists or white supremacists were expressed by radical anti-Israel activists in a variety of forums, including anti-Israel exhibits, social media and official student newspapers.
  • Antisemitism can also manifest in the radical anti-Israel movement when Zionist or pro-Israel students are targeted or excluded from elements of campus life. Such targeting, which took place on a number of campuses in 2019, inevitably results in discrimination and disenfranchisement directed at significant numbers of Jewish students.
  • Some radical anti-Israel groups expressed support for terrorism against Israelis in 2019. Sometimes this support took the form of promoting the terrorist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, applauding convicted terrorists Leila Khaled and Rasmea Odeh, condoning violent tactics of the terrorist group Hamas, or honoring Palestinians who were killed in clashes with Israel despite the fact that many of them were members of terrorist groups.
  • Funding for radical anti-Israel groups came from a number of prominent charitable foundations. Most notable is the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF), an ostensibly mainstream charity but one that knowingly provides significant funding and symbolic support to Jewish Voice for Peace, a radical anti-Zionist organization. RBF also donates to the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, the Institute for Middle East Understanding and Grassroots Jerusalem, all of which have engaged in radical anti-Zionist rhetoric. Another notable funder is the Westchester Peace Action Committee (WESPAC), which provides significant funding to Students for Justice in Palestine. WESPAC’s own website includes antisemitic content. SJP is also funded by American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), some of whose members have a history of making antisemitic remarks.


In recent years, criticism of Israel has become endemic on college campuses across the US. This trend continued in 2019. While most anti-Israel activism ostensibly took the form of legitimate political expression, a significant segment contributed to an atmosphere in which Jewish students felt under attack – and from which antisemitism often emerged. At a time when antisemitic incidents have increased across the country, including acts of harassment, violence and murder, campus antisemitism has a demonstrable impact on the morale of Jewish students and campus communities. It has contributed to the sense of siege felt by many Jewish college students. Colleges nevertheless overwhelmingly remain safe places for Jewish students, and panic around this issue is unhelpful.

The anti-Israel organization that engaged in antisemitic activity most frequently, by far, was Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). With its singular focus on the Arab-Israel conflict, SJP is the most visible anti-Israel group on campus in the U.S. According to SJP’s website, it includes approximately 200 chapters nationwide.

Anti-Israel student activists and professors expressed antisemitic ideas in a variety of ways, including through the denigration of Zionism, the idea of Jewish nationalism in the land of Israel. This demonization and negation sometimes took the form of equating Zionism with racism, Nazism, or white supremacy. Often “Zionism” was conflated with critiques of Israeli policy or Israeli leaders. This contributes to the movement to delegitimize Israel as a sovereign state.

While the state of Israel can and should be criticized like any other country, the demonization of Zionism and the isolation of anyone who supports or feels affinity with it frequently feels like an attack on Jewish students, a sizeable percentage of whom, like the majority of all American Jews, view a relationship with Israel[1] to be an important part of their religious, cultural or social identities.[2] It also undermines efforts to normalize relations between diverse groups of students with differing political views.

Another inflammatory and antisemitic phenomenon involved student activists calling for discrimination against Zionist or pro-Israel students or the expulsion of Zionists or pro-Israel students from campus, which has a disproportionate impact on Jewish students and could result in the exclusion of large numbers of Jews from campus activities. Despite SJP[3] officially stating its opposition to antisemitism on its website, members of the group frequently engaged in the aforementioned activities.

At times, radical anti-Israel activists on campus expressed support for terrorism targeting Israelis, which includes many American Jewish students’ family members.

In some cases, anti-Israel and anti-Zionist rhetoric on campus incorporated classic antisemitic tropes and images. Although anti-Israel activists often insist that this rhetoric targets Israelis, Zionists or supporters of Israel, and not Jews, swapping out the term “Jew” for the term “Zionist” does not absolve anti-Israel activists when they infuse their rhetoric with longstanding antisemitic images of Jews as greedy, controlling, bloodthirsty or hateful towards non-Jews. Indeed, this tactic of interchanging words frequently is used by hate groups that engage in antisemitism, including white supremacists.

It’s worth noting that some Zionists are not Jewish; however, Zionism is inherently linked to Jews, and the use of anti-Jewish tropes when expressing critiques of Israel and talking about Zionism is antisemitic. Throughout 2019, there also was a significant tendency among some anti-Israel activists to blame all pro-Israel students for every action taken by the Israeli government. Holding all Jews collectively responsible for the actions of the Jewish state is a classic antisemitic trope. Indeed, many activists knowingly ignore the fact that pro-Israel students have diverse opinions on Israeli politics and actually may hold critical views of Israeli policies.

Zionism and/or a connection to Israel is not monolithic. The connection that many Jewish students feel with Israel may include a pride of peoplehood and history, religious heritage, celebrations of Israeli culture, pride in Israel’s advancements in science and technology, a view of Israel as a safe-haven following millennia of anti-Jewish persecution, solidarity with fellow Jews who live there or even an appreciation of Israeli food. Condemning every Jewish student who claims a connection to Israel as morally deficient or racist (or complicit in racism) is itself an expression of bigotry. Such generalizations are an attack on diverse Jewish identities. This holds true even if many of those perpetrating such rhetoric are Jewish or Israeli, such as the case with JVP. While all these trends must be confronted, hysteria around anti-Israel activism on campus is unwarranted. Jewish students are not suffering from persecution on a daily basis, and physical assaults are extremely rare.

Claims that Zionism is a racist movement are divorced from the reality that Zionism is a multifaceted movement with broad support from different ethnic communities in Israel and around the world. It has helped establish an ethnically diverse, democratic state in which basic rights are protected and which shares a vision of equality and justice for all.

It should be noted that, in addition to discrimination from anti-Israel activists, Jewish students have experienced a barrage of explicit antisemitism from white supremacists over the past several years. This has often taken the form of white supremacist groups distributing propaganda, which frequently includes antisemitism. This trend has worsened in recent years, creating an even more hostile environment for Jewish students.[4][5]

Some anti-Zionist rhetoric is attractive to white supremacists because it confirms their beliefs about nefarious Jewish power. Although white supremacists are much more overt in their antisemitic rhetoric, some arguments made by left-wing anti-Zionist activists have the effect of perpetuating the anti-Jewish views of the far right.

The Radical Anti-Israel Movement on US Campuses

A significant amount of the legitimate criticism of Israel on campus in 2019 had the effect of creating a more polarized and fraught atmosphere. In addition to SJP, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and occasionally IfNotNow (INN) contributed to anti-Israel activism on campus. Anti-Israel professors, guest speakers and students unaffiliated with any anti-Israel organizations also played a role.

Largely due to concerted efforts by both SJP and JVP, student organizations dedicated to addressing other issues, such as climate change, police brutality and income inequality, often actively supported SJP and JVP’s initiatives. These partnerships gave anti-Israel activity increased exposure across campus and helped in corralling support for anti-Israel resolutions considered by student governments. 

Main anti-Israel Groups

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the most active anti-Israel group on campus in the U.S., is a network of pro-Palestinian student groups across the country which disseminate anti-Israel propaganda often laced with inflammatory and at times combative and antisemitic rhetoric. They are a leading campus organizer of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel and specialize in using confrontational tactics such as disrupting student-run pro-Israel events and constructing mock “apartheid walls” and distributing fake “eviction notices” to dramatize what they consider Israeli abuses of Palestinians. They believe that Zionism is an inherently racist ideology. As proponents of “anti-normalization” between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel advocates, they make it more difficult for groups with diverging views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to work together and achieve mutual understanding.

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) is a radical anti-Israel activist group that also supports BDS. Like SJP, JVP views Zionism as fundamentally racist and rejects the view that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a tragic dispute over land which has been perpetuated by a cycle of violence, fear, and distrust on both sides in favor of the belief that Israeli policies and actions are motivated by deeply rooted Jewish racial chauvinism and religious supremacism. Some of the more radical members of JVP engage in rhetoric that echoes language that is more typically heard from non-Jewish antisemites. The group ignores the full range of Zionist identities and equates the mildest expressions of support for Israel or celebrations of Israeli culture with the furthest fringes of hardline Zionist expansionism.

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions

Support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel was a central feature of the anti-Israel movement on campus in 2019. The movement has a series of demands: an end to Israel’s occupation and the dismantling of its security fence, full equality for Israel’s Arab-Palestinian citizens, and the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees.[6] Other elements of the BDS movement include an economic boycott, which targets Israeli companies that contribute to alleged human rights violations against Palestinians, and an academic boycott, which prohibits exchanges with Israeli universities.  The BDS movement is dismissive of concerns over terrorism and does nothing to disrupt the cycle of distrust which drives much of the conflict. Many of its proponents deny Israel’s right to exist and seek to undermine its standing in the global community.

Both SJP and JVP officially support BDS.

Throughout 2019, student governments considered numerous BDS-inspired calls for boycotts against Israel or companies connected to Israel. Some proposals (at New York University[7] and Pitzer College,[8] for example) went so far as to call for the end of study abroad programs at Israeli universities. Many of these proposals were passed by student government bodies, and the attendant debate and voting processes – which often included time for public comments – were reported to be tense and emotionally challenging for students involved.[9]

While it is notable that none of these pro-BDS resolutions have been adopted by university administrations, it has been disappointing that administrations typically have not spoken out more vigorously against these campaigns.

Israeli Apartheid Week

Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) was a prominent aspect of pro-BDS anti-Israel activism on campus in 2019. IAW, an annual worldwide series of anti-Israel and pro-BDS lectures, demonstrations and other events, was held on roughly 20 American university campuses in spring 2019, as it has been for several years. A disproportionate amount of controversial anti-Israel activism occurs during this time.

One of IAW’s primary purposes is to highlight the purported crimes, abuses and other nefarious activities undertaken by Israel. Exhibits called “apartheid walls,” which demonstrate the alleged brutality of Israel’s security fence against the Palestinian people, are a common feature of IAW activism. IAW amounts to a theatrical propaganda campaign that sometimes leaves Jewish students shaken by the vociferous anti-Israel animus they encounter.

Georgetown University SJP’s 2019 Israeli Apartheid Week exemplified this trend. The group held events Monday through Thursday nights during the first week of April. These included the building of an “apartheid wall,” a screening of the documentary The Lobby (which shows the allegedly outsized influence pro-Israel activists have on the U.S. government) and a panel on BDS that included controversial anti-Israel activist Taher Herzallah.[10] The week’s events unnerved the Georgetown Israel Alliance, a pro-Israel student group, which posted a statement on Facebook saying they were “disappointed that this week's events discourage dialogue and reject the Jewish connection to Israel in favor of a divisive, one-sided narrative.” The group noted that the week was “difficult…for many Jewish students on campus.”[11]

Divisive Panels and Conferences

Controversial panels and conferences also marked the anti-Israel landscape in 2019. May and November panels at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, organized by Professor Sut Jhally, featured only pro-BDS critics of Israel.[12] One panelist at the May event, sportswriter Dave Zirin, remarked that what unites “Christian Zionists, AIPAC and arms manufacturers who are trying to intimidate us dissenters in the Jewish community…is that they see Palestinian life as less than human…they do not see Palestinians as worth living.”[13] At the November event, renowned academic Cornel West remarked that while Jews had been “hated, despised, devalued, oppressed, attacked for 2,000 years,” they are now “in a top dog status and losing sight of their own underdogs, the precious Palestinians.”[14]

In May, the president of the university’s Student Alliance for Israel expressed her concern that the event that month “kind of feeds into possible incitement on campus,” and the head of Hillel wrote in a statement that “we are particularly disconcerted that the event is being co-sponsored by two University departments.”[15] In November, Hillel organized a “peace walk” at the same time as the event, and Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy released a statement affirming the university’s opposition to BDS and criticizing the event as “polarizing.”[16]

A March conference on Gaza co-sponsored by the University of North Carolina and Duke University also drew considerable controversy, prompting North Carolina Hillel to release a statement criticizing the conference for blaming Israel for the “humanitarian crisis in Gaza” and including a speaker who referred to Israel as “settler-colonialist.”[17]

Other Activism

In April 2019, INN at the University of Texas, Austin organized a petition calling for all students at the university to “denounce” an upcoming “Israel Block Party” hosted by Texas Hillel. INN is a group consisting of mainly young Jews who vocally and energetically oppose the occupation and many other Israeli policies through protests, statements and other activity. The April petition charges Texas Hillel with promoting a “whitewashed, idealized version of Israel.”[18] The petition followed INN’s sending and simultaneous publication in March of a letter they had emailed to Texas Hillel (which was ignored) demanding the party incorporate an acknowledgement of various issues, such as the occupation.[19] And in May, INN at Brandeis University vandalized a graffiti art cube[20] commissioned by the university’s Hillel with a sign reading “stop lying to young Jews #FreePalestine.”[21]

Also in April 2019, SJP posted mock eviction notices on students’ doors at Emory University, where some Jewish students felt they were being targeted in an act of antisemitism. The controversy around the mock eviction notices, which were designed to bring attention to what SJP considers the unjust confiscation of Palestinian homes by the Israeli military, attracted media attention.[22] Ultimately, a university committee investigated the matter and determined that the fliers were not antisemitic, with Emory University President Claire E. Sterk adding that while Jewish students may have felt “justifiably” threatened by the fliers, SJP did not intentionally target those students.[23]

Anti-Israel student organizations sponsored a number of events that encouraged students to support[24] the BDS[25] movement[26] and propagandize the belief that Israel is an apartheid[27] state[28] that engages in genocide[29] against the Palestinians. This inflammatory rhetoric stokes divisions on campus, and for some Jewish students it feels like an echo of some of the historical allegations of Jewish malevolence.

There were also several instances of Israeli flags[30] being removed[31] from their displays, Israeli or pro-Israel[32] speakers being heckled,[33] and anti-Israel groups urging the student body to boycott[34] all pro-Israel advocacy and activist groups on campus.[35] Being heckled to the point where someone is prohibited from sharing their viewpoint is known as the “heckler’s veto” and is a direct violation of a speaker’s First Amendment right to free expression.

A small amount of activity from white supremacists might have contributed to the general anti-Israel atmosphere on some campuses in 2019. White supremacist propaganda campaigns sometimes included references to the USS Liberty conspiracy theory, which claims that Israel’s mistaken strike against an American warship during the 1967 Israel-Arab War was intentional. In October at Temple University and August at Indiana University, for instance, the New Jersey European Heritage Association, an alt-right group, distributed propaganda that read, in part: "Remember the USS Liberty! 1967 attack against America."

Antisemitic Themes

Demonization of Zionism

Jewish students, many of whom consider Zionism an essential part of their Jewish identities, faced a steady stream of rhetoric vilifying Zionism in 2019. These students had to contend with claims from both fellow students and professors that their Zionist identities rendered them irredeemably racist and no different from white supremacists. Such empty claims are baseless at best and slanderous at worst but are ultimately divorced from the facts.

These odious sentiments were expressed in a variety of forums, including in anti-Israel exhibits, social media and official student newspapers:

  • In November 2019, SJP at California State University at Fullerton erected an “apartheid wall” exhibit that included a panel with a message reading “Zionism=racism.”[36]
  • Earlier that month, Vassar SJP similarly opined in a Facebook post that “Zionism is inherently racist,” adding that Zionism “necessitates the displacement and subjugation of the Palestinian people.”[37]
  • SJP at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst echoed these sentiments in an October open letter to Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy in protest of his criticism of BDS. In defending BDS, SJP wrote that “we also believe that dissent is a powerful tool that the student body can use to voice their rejection of Zionism, white supremacy, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other oppressive ideologies.”[38]
  • In May 2019, an SJP-supporting[39] graduate student at UC Davis published a column in The California Aggie in which they wrote that “two specific instances of white supremacy have situated themselves on our campus as ‘marginalized voices’: the Blue Lives Matter movement (and policing generally) and Zionism.”[40]
  • That same month at UC Davis, MSA and SJP invited extreme anti-Israel activist Miko Peled, a vocal supporter of BDS, for a talk. Peled has repeatedly infused his rhetoric with antisemitism. He routinely demonizes Zionism as a racist movement, and shortly before this speaking engagement he tweeted a message which infused into his commentary on Zionism the classic antisemitic trope about Jews not being loyal to the countries in which they are citizens: “#Zionism is a sign of dual loyalty at best, at worst you are actually paid agents working for a foreign, racist government.”[41]
  • In April, SJP at California State University at Fullerton organized an “apartheid wall” display with a message on one panel reading “Zionism=racism” (as mentioned above, they did this again in November).[42]
    Antisemitism and the Radical Anti-Israel Movement on U.S. Campuses, 2019
  • In April, Zionism was again linked to racism (and other hateful ideologies) in an NYU SJP tweet that read, “We are UNITED against racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, Zionism, and Islamophobia.”[43]
  • As part of Israeli Apartheid Week at Vassar College in April, SJP distributed an “Educational Zine,” which stated, in part, “we recognize the racism inherent in Zionist ideology” and that “Zionism exists as a form of racism.”[44]
  • Also in April, JVP at Portland State University sold t-shirts with inflammatory messages to promote an event with anti-Israel academic Norman Finkelstein. One shirt read, “Israel is a garbage country that’s only loved by garbage people. It was founded on ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and settler-colonialism. Its flag is a symbol of white supremacy.” Another t-shirt proclaimed, “All Zionists are racists. Every single one.”
    Antisemitism and the Radical Anti-Israel Movement on U.S. Campuses, 2019
  • In March, during Israeli Apartheid Week at Occidental College (organized by SJP and the Jewish Student Union), fliers were distributed and an article was published by an SJP member[45] arguing that “we need to talk about Zionism in relation to white supremacy if we want to work toward a just society” and that “we must recognize the ingrained racist and white supremacist ideology central to Zionism.”[46]
    Antisemitism and the Radical Anti-Israel Movement on U.S. Campuses, 2019
  • Also in March, “references to age-old tropes of prejudice and bigotry” [47] were made and Jewish students were “vilif[ied]…for their commitments and even their heritages” [48] related to Israel and Zionism during a Harvard University Undergraduate Council meeting, according to a statement released by the Harvard Hillel president. The meeting was held to deliberate and vote on whether to award the Palestine Solidarity Committee funding for Israeli Apartheid Week. The Council voted to award the funds.
  • In January, SJP at Ohio State University tweeted with the hashtag “#ZionismIsRacism” and “#ZionismIsTerrorism” in response to a story about Jewish Voice for Peace releasing a statement officially opposing Zionism.[49]

It wasn’t just student groups who brought inflammatory anti-Israel rhetoric to campus; professors and guest speakers also perpetrated these tropes:

  • Commenting on an article about liberal Zionist group J Street in December, Professor As’ad AbuKhalil of California State University Stanislaus tweeted that “Zionism is racism and sexism.”[50] The professor, who has expressed his belief that BDS is not stringent enough,[51] posted at least two similar tweets in 2019:
  • In response to a tweet by the official account of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in October, he tweeted: “For the terrorist Israeli occupation army, being female is an insult. This only proves that Zionism isn’t only racism; it also is sexism, colonialism, bigotry, and homophobia.”[52]
    Antisemitism and the Radical Anti-Israel Movement on U.S. Campuses, 2019
  • In August 2019, Professor AbuKhalil used an inflammatory tweet about Reps. Omar and Tlaib posted by Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) president Morton Klein as an excuse to tweet that “Zionism is always racism. This American Zionist leader proves it yet again—as if we need proof.”[53]
  • Professor Noura Erakat delivered a lecture in October at Columbia Law School during which she spoke approvingly of the passage of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379 in 1975 (repealed in 1991), which declared that Zionism is “a form of racism and a form of racial discrimination.”[54] Erakat, who states on her website that she has “helped seed BDS campaigns nationally,”[55] expressed similar views on Twitter earlier in the year:
    • In a July tweet, she referred to “Zionism’s internalized white supremacy.”[56]
      Antisemitism and the Radical Anti-Israel Movement on U.S. Campuses, 2019
    • In March, Professor Erakat tweeted: “Finding myself using #patriarchy and male dominance as a framework to explain how/why #Zionism is a structure of privilege & domination that has been naturalized to appear as inevitable and permanent. What’s up Geneva!”[57]
  • In July, pro-BDS Professor Rabab Abdulhadi of San Francisco State University posted a photo of a banner on the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies Facebook page that included the message “Zionism=racism.”[58]
    Antisemitism and the Radical Anti-Israel Movement on U.S. Campuses, 2019
  • In April, Professor Yamila Hussein of Boston College remarked during a panel discussion at Harvard University organized by the Harvard College SJP affiliate Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) and the Harvard African Students Association that “when you bring up white supremacy – because that’s what Zionism is. It’s a white supremacist, European, patriarchal, heterosexist, you name it, movement...when you read Zionism, it is white supremacy.”[59] To her credit, Professor Hussein (along with the other panelists, including Professors Cornel West and Marc Lamont Hill) harshly scolded and shut down an audience member who tried to talk about “the myth of the Holocaust” and the debunked theory that Israeli Jews are not in fact Jewish but descendants of Khazars. Members of the Palestine Solidarity Committee attempted to remove the man from the room but were unsuccessful.

Other forms of demonization did not explicitly mention Zionism but combined conspiracy theories about Israel and attacks on American Jews.

  • In September, anti-Israel and pro-BDS activist Alison Weir, who has a long history of employing antisemitic tropes and associating with antisemites including white supremacists,[60] delivered a lecture at Clovis Community College in California.[61] In 2009, Weir accused Israel of engaging in organ harvesting of poor and needy individuals and Palestinians. In 2008, Weir described Judaism as “such a ruthless and supremacist faith.” Given this history, Weir’s presence on campus was seen by Jewish students as legitimizing discrimination against them.[62]

Weir’s talk was not sponsored by any group or individual at Clovis Community College. Rather, the college rented the space in which the event was held to a media company named GV Wire. The company uploaded a video of Weir’s talk to its Facebook page. GV Wire does not have a history or background of disseminating anti-Israel or antisemitic rhetoric. The motive behind the company’s decision to host Weir remains unclear.

Exclusion of Jewish Students

In a significant number of instances, anti-Zionist students expressed their belief that Zionists and supporters of Israel should not be welcome on campus. Both Zionist and pro-Israel individuals and groups were named as being unworthy of a place in the academic and social community. Whether or not intentional, anti-Israel activists essentially were calling for the disenfranchisement of most Jewish students.

In most cases, support for expelling or excluding Zionists and pro-Israel students from campus life was expressed openly and unapologetically in public forums, including social media.

  • During a November rally in New York City, a representative from SJP City College told the crowd, “The intifada does not have to be in Gaza or Palestine. We’re gonna have an intifada in every classroom. We’re gonna have an intifada on every college campus. We’re gonna shut down all the Zionist events…let’s shut down all the Zionists and let’s start an intifada everywhere we are.”[63]
  • At an October student government meeting at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Jewish students were met with signs reading “Free Palestine F*ck Zionists” as they argued against a resolution declaring that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism. The resolution passed.[64] In correspondence with ADL, one Jewish student reported that the negative impact of this incident was compounded when the student government president followed up the vote with a mass email expressing personal support for the resolution. The Jewish student added that in the lead-up to the vote the opinions of Jewish students were “clearly ignored” and that this was particularly disappointing because fellow students were “supposed to represent me and hear my concerns as a Jewish student.”
  • In September, Professor Rabab Abdulhadi of San Francisco State University repeated controversial remarks she made in 2018 in which she condemned university President Leslie Wong’s call to welcome Zionist students on campus. Welcoming such students would be “a declaration of war against Arabs, Muslims, Palestinians, and our communities of justice, including our Jewish sisters and brothers for whom Israel does not speak,” she said.[65] She had originally posted an almost identical comment on Facebook in 2018 – with the addition that racism is part of “the inherent character of Zionism.”[66]
  • In May 2019, a vice president of the Muslim Students’ Association at UC Davis was asked by a reporter whether “Zionist groups should have the same rights to exist on campus” as SJP and MSA. She responded in the negative, adding, “Zionism is an ideology rooted in racism…and the subjugation of Palestinians...The line is not arbitrary. When you’re a Zionist, you’re arguing that you are okay with the violence and the brutal subjugation that Palestinians endure every day.”[67]
  • Also in May, University of Washington SJP affiliate Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER), Huskies for Food Justice, the Muslim Students’ Association and the Pakistani Student Association posted an open letter on Facebook complaining that Hillel, the main campus organization for Jewish student life, was allowed to participate in the Middle Eastern Student Commission (MESC) Culture Fest, writing, “the very presence of Hillel and the representation of a violent settler colonial state is both political and unquestionably neither ‘family-friendly’ nor safe for Palestinian students.”[68] (The university ensured that Hillel was able to participate.)
  • In yet another incident in May, a pro-Israel Jewish student leader at San Francisco State University discovered a swastika with a Star of David scrawled in the middle and the words “Free Palestine.”[69] The use of a swastika is seen by Jewish people as a sign they are not welcome.
    Antisemitism and the Radical Anti-Israel Movement on U.S. Campuses, 2019
  • In an April 2019 Facebook post written in response to a verbal exchange between SJP members and Islamophobic and transphobic speaker Abe Haak, who had been invited on campus by a pro-Israel group, SJP City College condemned “the vile infiltration of Zionism in our campuses.”[70]
  • During an April student association meeting at the University of California at Berkeley, the Student Action party, which included the student Senate’s only Jewish representative, was disqualified from participating in the elections. While the decision to exclude the party was purely procedural, multiple Jewish student organizations, including the Berkeley Hillel Student Board, Bears for Israel, The Jews of Color Collective and J Street U, reported in a statement that during the debate over the issue, one student elided the distinction between Zionists, Israelis and Jews and claimed that being Zionist or friends with Zionists means one is “complicit in the prison-industrial complex and prison militarization and modern-day slavery.”[71] The statement continued, "By calling for the exclusion of Zionists from campus spaces,” this anti-Zionist student was “calling for the exclusion of Jews altogether.”[72]

Some Jewish students who were present at the UC Berkeley student association meeting were in contact with ADL. One expressed concern that student government officials failed to stop the antisemitic comments as they were occurring. Another reported being “told to move to the back of the room because I was Jewish” and becoming “frightened” by the atmosphere.

  • In March, a journalist from a Jewish newspaper was denied access to an anti-Israel exhibit at the University of Houston and was physically blocked by students from reporting on an “apartheid wall.” Students told one another to not speak to the “Zionist.” At one point, the reporter remarked, “I’m from a Jewish newspaper. Apparently, that’s threatening,” to which there was initially no response. Eventually, one Jewish anti-Zionist student from the “apartheid wall” display approached the reporter and explained the protest was in response to  the presence of “Israelis, flown in by the Israeli government, to silence any sort of anti-Zionist speech” who had set up a table in the vicinity. The reporter visited the table, noting it was “more than 50 yards away,” only to find out the individuals in question were University of Houston students and an Israel fellow from Houston Hillel.[73]
  • In February, Miko Peled spoke at Bucknell University at the invitation of English professor Michael Drexler. According to the university newspaper The Bucknellian, the talk was endorsed by the University Lectureship Committee and co-sponsored by the Africana Studies, Arabic Studies, English, Geography, History, and International Relations departments. Notably, according to The Bucknellian, the Muslim Students’ Association declined to co-sponsor.[74] A Jewish student interviewed by the student newspaper after the talk remarked, “I felt like he was saying that if you supported Israel you were inherently racist and automatically supported violence. As a Jew on campus, I felt very uncomfortable.”[75]

Condoning Terrorism

In 2019, some students discussed or expressed justifications for anti-Israel terrorism. This expression took different forms, varied in degree of support or justification, and included posts on social media, pronouncements in public forums, honoring deceased members of terrorist groups and graffiti.

  • In November, a video emerged showing a George Washington University student asking a peer, “What are we going to do to Israel?” The student replies, “Bro, we’re going to f*cking bomb Israel, bro. F*ck out of here, Jewish pieces of sh*t.”[76] While both students apologized and neither have any known connection to any anti-Israel groups, the incident elicited profound concern from Jewish groups on campus, including Hillel[77] and J Street.[78] One Jewish student who corresponded with ADL about this incident stated that it was “very hard to handle” and, “I was furious with GW students who took to social media to condemn the incident, but then went on to say that the Jewish community had some sort of responsibility for the attack because of their pro-Israel viewpoints.” The student further noted, “I, as well as other Jewish students, were also attacked for saying that the incident was bred out of hatred for Israel, considering the student was clearly advocating for the bombing of the state.”
  • In May 2019, an SJP member at Columbia University explicitly condoned terrorism when they were filmed at a demonstration stating that the “path of violence” adopted by Palestinians in Gaza “will come to an end when the land is liberated, when Zionism is dismantled, when the apartheid regime covering all historic Palestine disintegrates.”[79]

In 2019, anti-Israel activists valorized the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – designated a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union and other countries – at least three times.

  • In December, UC Berkeley Bears for Palestine prominently showcased photos of terrorists including PFLP members Leila Khaled and Rasmea Odeh in a display inside a university building.[80] Khaled took part in the hijacking of two aircraft, in 1969 and 1970, and Odeh was convicted in an Israeli court in 1970 for being involved in a 1969 bombing that killed two Hebrew University students.
    Antisemitism and the Radical Anti-Israel Movement on U.S. Campuses, 2019
  • In April, the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) at Kent State University spray-painted “P.L.F.P. [sic]” and PFLP’s logo on “the rock” (a prominent campus landmark).[81] YDSA members posted a photo of “the rock” with their graffiti on their official Facebook page.
    Antisemitism and the Radical Anti-Israel Movement on U.S. Campuses, 2019
  • At a January panel event at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, speaker Noss Petashnik, who was introduced as being affiliated with SJP and JVP, remarked that “women have been visible in armed resistance in Palestine. One woman I want to give special mention to is Leila Khaled, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP]…I mention her specifically because I remember reading her biography and feeling inspired by her story.”[82]

Even though many students stopped short of advocating anti-Israel terrorism, anti-Israel student activists attempted to justify such action. 

  • In May, responding to a publication by the Islamophobic David Horowitz Freedom Center in May 2019, SJP at the University of Minnesota wrote that “Hamas is a political party which fights back against violence from the israeli [sic] state. If Hamas are terrorists, than [sic] so is israel [sic].”[83] 
  • In February, at Wake Forest University, the Young Democratic Socialists of America displayed an “apartheid wall” with “resistance is not terrorism” written on one panel.[84]
    Antisemitism and the Radical Anti-Israel Movement on U.S. Campuses, 2019

Similarly, in at least three instances, SJP chapters have honored all Palestinians killed by Israel in spats of violence, disregarding that many were members of terrorist organizations.

  • In November, following a short bout of violence between Israel and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, SJP Chicago held a “die-in” to “honor and remember” all 36 Palestinians killed, a number that would include Islamic Jihad members.[85]
    Antisemitism and the Radical Anti-Israel Movement on U.S. Campuses, 2019
  • Also, in November, Oberlin SJP affiliate Students for a Free Palestine and JVP[86] erected a memorial for the “34 unarmed Palestinian civilians” allegedly killed by Israel during the fighting.[87] Thirty-four Palestinians would also include known Islamic Jihad members. While Palestinian civilians were undoubtedly killed by Israel during the fighting, according to The New York Times, health officials in Gaza reported that 16 civilians were killed – nowhere near 30 or more.[88]
  • In March, SJP at University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign held an event marking the one-year anniversary of the Gazan Great Return March during which they commemorated “all 269 Palestinian martyrs.”[89] Two hundred sixty-nine denotes the total number of Palestinians killed by Israel during the first year of the demonstrations, which saw tens of thousands of Palestinians protest against Israel near the barrier separating the Gaza Strip from Israel. Some of these individuals were engaged in violent activities (and were known Hamas members) during the time of their deaths.[90]

Support for terror or violence was expressed among university employees or academics much less frequently. In October 2019, while responding to a question about Hamas and Hezbollah at Princeton University, anti-Israel academic Norman Finkelstein remarked, “I will not condemn any of them if they’re fighting for their basic rights.”[91] And an apology was issued by the Women’s Center at San Diego State University after it disseminated a weekly newsletter on May 8, 2019 that featured the text “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” – next to a photo of convicted terrorist Leila Khaled holding a gun.[92]

Funding for Anti-Israel Student Groups

As official student clubs, anti-Israel groups on campus receive much of their funding from student government resources, which generally are funded by student activity fees. They also are supported by outside donors, including foundations, some of whom have expressed their own anti-Israel positions. In several cases, these foundations promulgate antisemitic critiques of Israel or fund organizations that do so (in addition to JVP and SJP).

At a time when a number of prominent philanthropists and foundations are working actively to mitigate hate and the rise of division in society, these foundations are helping to stoke divisive propaganda campaigns which sometimes incorporate antisemitism.

Rockefeller Brothers Fund

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) is one of the best-known[93] private foundations in the U.S. Its grantmaking decisions are regularly featured in major media outlets. RBF is distinct from the better-known Rockefeller Foundation, but its funding also is sourced from the family.

Despite the ostensible progressive orientation of the foundation, RBF is the most prominent institutional funder of some of the most hateful campaigns on college campuses. RBF grants constitute some of the most significant institutional giving to Jewish Voice for Peace and provide the organization with an imprimatur of legitimacy despite its radical anti-Zionist activities and the fact that many of their baseless claims against the Jewish state echo the hateful myths and rhetoric often used by extremists to delegitimize the Jewish people. ADL leadership directly has engaged RBF staff on these issues. Despite this effort at dialogue and the presentation of substantiated information, RBF staff have not provided meaningful explanations and done little more than attempt to downplay the amount of their funding to the organization. 

It is fair to point out that only a minority of RBF grants are awarded to organizations that do work related to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Nonetheless, the former Program Director of Peacebuilding (who left the Fund in 2018) explained in 2017 that RBF sees the conflict as having great importance “because of the very deep and direct involvement of the U.S. government in Israel-Palestine.”[94]

  • Since 2015, RBF has awarded Jewish Voice for Peace $455,000. This is just one group in a constellation of RBF grantees that engage in rhetoric that raises deep concerns because it increases antisemitism and reinforces extremism.
  • In August 2017, JVP hosted and honored PFLP member Rasmea Odeh, who was convicted in an Israeli court in 1970 for being involved in a 1969 bombing that killed two Hebrew University students.[95]
  • Also in August 2017, former JVP media manager Naomi Dann published an article in The Forward that commended alt-right leader Richard Spencer for stating that Zionism is equivalent to white supremacy.[96]
  • In a February 2015 speech at Portland State University, former JVP deputy director Cecilie Surasky stated that the Jewish doctrine that Jews should be a "light unto the nations" is "predicated on a system of racial and ethnic superiority" and should be interpreted as a divine justification for "ethnic cleansing, even genocide."[97]
  • JVP’s long-standing “Deadly Exchange” campaign is little more than an exercise in anti-Israel propaganda that attempts to link legitimate concerns over policing practices impacting communities of color in the US with fictionalized accounts of information sharing conducted on a limited basis by some members of US law enforcement with Israeli peer organizations
  • The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR), which acts as one of the BDS movement’s main arms in the United States, has received $295,000 from RBF since 2015. USPCR regularly denigrates Zionism and has done so at least three times since October 2019 on Twitter with high profile and highly incendiary tweets.
    • In December 2019, USPCR tweeted that Zionism’s “goal” is to create a state that is “racial and religious[ly] supremacist.”[98]
      Antisemitism and the Radical Anti-Israel Movement on U.S. Campuses, 2019
    • In late October 2019, USPCR demonized Zionism when it thanked a leader for “building movements that can take on white supremacy, Zionism, and racism and build justice for all.”[99]
    • USPCR demonized Zionism earlier in October 2019 as well, tweeting that “Zionism is not compatible with prison abolition or reform.”[100]

Other RBF grantees engage in similar rhetoric.

  • The Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU), which has been awarded $420,000 since 2013, tweeted in early January 2020 that Zionism is “a model for the successful perpetuation of racist policies.”[101]
    Antisemitism and the Radical Anti-Israel Movement on U.S. Campuses, 2019
  • Pro-BDS Grassroots Jerusalem, a non-profit that seeks to empower Palestinian Jerusalemites, has received $375,000 since 2014 and posted an article by anti-Israel activist Salman Abu Sitta on Twitter[102] in January 2020 entitled “The Moral Case Against Zionism” which states that “racism and apartheid are intrinsic to the Zionist doctrine.”[103] Notably, Grassroots Jerusalem also sometimes negates Israel’s existence by putting the word Israel in quotes, both on its website[104] and Twitter account.[105]
  • The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) states its partnership with the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) on its website, where MECA praises IJAN’s “efforts to challenge Zionism, Islamophobia and other racism, separatism and militarism.”[106]  MECA has received $320,000 from RBF since 2015.

Some RBF grantees have expressed support for divisive campaigns including BDS but have not engaged in particularly inflammatory rhetoric.

  • The American Friends Service Committee, for example, which has received $135,000 from the Fund for its Israel program since 2015, openly supports BDS but does not traffic in overt anti-Jewish invective.
  • A trustee of the Vivian and Paul Olum Charitable Foundation published an article in 2002 calling for a boycott of companies that sell arms to Israel, but neither the Foundation itself nor any of its leadership have expressed any antisemitic rhetoric.[107]

It should be noted that, while RBF awards grants to a number of organizations that engage in antisemitic rhetoric, the vast majority of RBF grantees do not display such intolerance. Even those who work on Middle East issues generally maintain a neutral stance on the conflict, while others may be considered pro-Israel. These organizations include the Brookings Institution, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, J Street, T’ruah and the Middle East Institute. Nonetheless RBF refusal to disavow the hateful rhetoric of JVP and other grantees is puzzling and stands in stark contrast to other foundations. ADL has pressed these issues with RBF leadership, providing unambiguous examples of this behavior. To date, RBF staff have not done anything to distance themselves from such activities nor stopped funding those groups who engage in hate.

Westchester Peace Action Committee (WESPAC)

The Westchester Peace Action Committee (WESPAC), which states its support for BDS on its website,[108] is the fiscal sponsor of National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP).[109] Each donation to NSJP goes through WESPAC, which keeps a percentage of the gift and gives the remainder to NSJP. Some of the most important WESPAC donations are made to fund NSJP’s annual conferences, which attract hundreds of SJP members from around the country each year.[110] It is unclear whether a percentage of the gifts to NSJP are distributed to SJP chapters throughout the U.S.

The Violet Jabara Charitable Trust, a JVP grantor, also funds WESPAC.

In addition to funding SJP, WESPAC has engaged in its own anti-Israel activities. In 2015, WESPAC executive director, Nada Khader, was a panelist at an Israeli Apartheid Week event at Pace University. The stated goal of the panel was to “introduce SJP to campus and serve as an opportunity for students, faculty and community members alike to learn and ask questions.”[111] And in 2011, WESPAC paid for an ad on the New York City subway system that called for an end to US military aid to Israel.[112]

WESPAC’s website includes numerous articles that demonize and denigrate Zionism, many of which were published in 2009:

  • An article by anti-Israel attorney Zaid Nabulsi, who spent time working at the United Nations in Geneva, refers to Zionism as “a sickness.”[113]
  •  Noted antisemite, James Petras, wrote a piece for the website that refers to Zionism as an “ethno-racist ideology.”[114] Petras, a retired Binghamton University sociology professor, has stated that U.S. presidents are at the mercy of “Jewish power,” that Jews are “the greatest threat to world peace and humanity”[115] and that Zionists were responsible for the global financial crisis in 2008.[116]
  • A petition entitled “Jews in Solidarity with Palestine” posted on the WESPAC website excoriates Israel’s treatment of Gazan Palestinians, states that Zionism is a “racist ideology” and calls for Jews to “reject the Zionist state, the very concept of which is racist to the core.”[117]
  • Yet another article, by anti-Israel activist and journalist Jeff Gore, refers to “the racism and injustice inherent in” Zionism.[118]

American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)

The vociferously anti-Israel group American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), which has a well-documented history of antisemitism,[119] is also a major supporter of Students for Justice in Palestine.[120] According to AMP’s website, the group works “in broad-based coalitions and support[s] campus activism through Students for Justice in Palestine and Muslim Student Associations”[121] and “acts as a resource for chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine by providing information, materials, speakers, trainings and financial support.”[122] The website also states that AMP offers pro-Palestine student activists “free materials, information, speakers, infrastructure like the apartheid wall, and grants to help ensure your group has the best chance possible of achieving your goals.”[123] AMP has facilitated and endorsed many SJP conferences.[124]

Controversy erupted after social justice and anti-Israel activist Linda Sarsour was captured on video making particularly divisive comments at AMP’s national conference during Thanksgiving weekend 2019. Sarsour accused Israel of being “built on supremacy…on the idea that Jews are supreme to everybody else” and remarked the “Zionist movement in America” has outsized influence, “impact” and “resources.”[125] She later apologized “for the confusion” on Twitter and attempted to explain that she was only critiquing Israel’s nation-state law, which the Knesset (Israeli parliament) passed in 2018.

Further examples reveal that antisemitic rhetoric has been a recurring phenomenon at AMP:

  • At an April 2019 SJP event at DePaul University, AMP’s Tarek Khalil remarked that “Zionism is an exclusionist idea. It’s an idea of establishing an exclusivist, racist regime in a territory that belongs to another people.”[126]
  • At an October 2018 event in Austin, Texas, AMP’s Taher Herzallah claimed that “At its core, Zionism is a racist ideology…You [Zionists] need to dehumanize the native [Palestinians] in order to justify killing them. So, Zionism early on employed Islamophobia and Islamophobic ideas.”[127] 
  • In September 2018, AMP board member Shakeel Syed tweeted that “Israel remains committed to this racist, Zionist system.”[128]
  • The current chairman of AMP’s board, controversial anti-Israel academic Hatem Bazian, also has a history of flirting with antisemitism. In 2017, for example, he retweeted an antisemitic meme depicting a Jewish man with sidelocks raising his hands in the air with text reading “Mom, look! I is chosen! I can now kill, rape, smuggle organs & steal the land of Palestinians yay #Ashke-Nazi.”[129] Bazian later apologized.[130]
Antisemitism and the Radical Anti-Israel Movement on U.S. Campuses, 2019

Additional Donors

Other organizations that have funded SJP include the Sparkplug Foundation (whose leadership, as seen below, has demonized Zionism), the Cultures of Resistance Network Foundation, and the Peace Development Fund. The Cultures of Resistance Network Foundation has provided funding for extreme anti-Israel group Al-Awda, which has promulgated antisemitic rhetoric, including support for Hamas,[131] accusations that Jews have orchestrated suicide bombings and organ trafficking and that it is within reason to “doubt” the Holocaust.[132]

JVP receives funding from numerous other foundations, including the Firedoll Foundation, the Foundation for Middle East Peace and the Sparkplug Foundation. All of these have recently funded RBF grantee the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), which (as seen above) has equated Zionism with racism.

In July 2019, Emmaia Gelman, a trustee of the Sparkplug Foundation, tweeted, “Israeli Zionism and American white nationalism are inseparable”[133] and earlier that month linked to a tweet on Facebook containing the phrase “#Zionism is Racism [sic].”[134]


Criticism of and opposition to Israel may be expressed in diverse ways. However, when Zionism is equated with racism and white supremacy, calls are made for all Zionists or pro-Israel students to be banned from campus, and support for terror is expressed, a line has been crossed.

SJP and JVP’s troubling activities must be brought to the attention of administrators, students and funders alike. Administrators have a responsibility to know about divisive groups on campus that may express extremist or even antisemitic views. They also have a responsibility to respond to antisemitic incidents. And students who are informed about such groups will make better decisions about whether and to what extent they would like to engage with them. Finally, funders have a responsibility to know about the activities of their grantees and should be held accountable if they support groups that exhibit trends of extremism and antisemitism.

Political critique is essential for the flourishing of academic life, and this includes legitimate criticism of Israel. Fortunately, most criticism of Israel on campus likely falls into this category. Jewish students are not routinely harassed, and they are (with rare exception) not at risk of physical assault. However, a significant trend of antisemitism exists within the anti-Israel movement on campus that must be confronted. Norms of the academy such as freedom of speech and the exchange of ideas are sacrosanct and must be preserved. Yet left unchecked, this strain of antisemitism will continue to create an environment of fear and intimidation for many Jewish students.

Policy and Action Recommendations


  1. Although anti-Israel or anti-Zionist speech and advocacy most often would not fall into harassing, discriminatory, hate or bias-based conduct that could violate a campus code or federal or state law, it is critical to respond to those select antisemitic incidents that do clearly cross the line into discriminatory harassment that deprives students of an equal educational opportunity, as well as other forms of hate and bias-based discriminatory action. Since 2010, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has had the authority to investigate instances in which anti-Israel activity – including antisemitic stereotypes and anti-Israel or anti-Zionist expressions – cross the line into targeted, intentional, unlawful, discriminatory intimidation and harassment of Jewish students. To the extent that Jewish students are targeted, as Jews, and held responsible for the actions of Israel, this is a factor to consider in determining whether these actions constitute unlawful, discriminatory treatment of Jewish students that deprives them of an equal educational opportunity.  
  2. Incidents that fall short of this high standard can still deeply impact the campus community. It is important to track these incidents to accurately chart trends about the ways bias manifests on campus. This must include both online and off-line incidents. Establishing a reporting mechanism can assist administrators and campus leaders in preventing incidents that do rise to the level of criminal or even civilly liable behavior as well as efforts to create a more equitable and inclusive campus. Administrators across the country are working toward making reporting procedures more accessible, ensuring that impacted communities know how to report, what to report, and what will happen when they report bias incidents. It is a cross-campus effort. For example, campus safety divisions are members of the college community, and as such also support these investigations which are not deemed criminal. These incidents should also be reported to ADL.
  3. Nationwide, campus officials and leaders should use their bully pulpits to speak out against antisemitism and all forms of hate and extremism. It is crucial that administrations and other campus leaders not equivocate, but strongly condemn hate and extremism. In recent incidents, this has proven to be very effective. Campuses can engage in counter-speech through official statements, PSAs, social media campaigns, messages to families and alumni, student group coalitions, events and calling for community dialogue.
  4. Acknowledging the extent to which student activity occurs online, campuses must be careful to also focus on the ways in which perpetrators of online harassment use digital channels, alongside the tracking of this activity in the physical world.


  1. ADL also believes that the prevention of bias-based behavior through inclusive policies, practices and educational programs is key to the long-term success of all students, staff, faculty and research programs. Increasingly, colleges and universities are seeking knowledge of trends in bias-based behaviors, hate online, free speech principles and the evolving tactics and ideologies of hate groups. It is critical that universities are working toward inclusive campus climate plans and effective bias incident response protocols in partnership with educational organizations and topic experts in the field such as ADL (
  2. Campuses should also adopt policies that provide faculty with clear expectations for appropriate standards that should influence decision making about writing letters on behalf of students for study abroad to Israel. In November 2018, ADL and the Academic Engagement Network (AEN) published a model policy that campuses can adopt in this regard after two students were denied letters of recommendation for study abroad programs by a University of Michigan faculty member and student instructor attempting to make a political statement against Israel.


  1. While, as previously noted, most forms of anti-Israel or anti-Zionist speech and advocacy presumably do not cross the line into antisemitism, some do and it’s important to understand those distinctions. ADL’s Words to Action program teaches understanding, promotes inclusivity on campuses and empowers communities to work together in response to antisemitism. Bringing Words to Action to campus can be done both proactively and in response to incidents that may occur. Campus administration should work with targets, staff members, and the student community to respond to antisemitic harassment and other biased-based incidents on college campuses.
  2. As mentioned, even when anti-Israel or anti-Zionist speech and advocacy does not rise to the level of antisemitism, it can still have a pervasive impact on the Jewish community on campus. Stakeholders like Hillel, ADL, campus administration, and student activities are consistently working together to sustain a thriving, safe and inclusive environment for Jewish students. It is important for the wider Jewish community to understand that this great work happens year-round, both in public view and behind the scenes.


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Donor Acknowledgment

ADL gratefully acknowledges The ADL Lewy Family Institute for Combating Antisemitism for its sustained support and commitment to fighting antisemitism. ADL also thanks its individual, corporate and foundation advocates and contributors, whose vote of confidence in our work provides the resources for our research, analysis and programs fighting antisemitism and hate in the United States and around the globe.