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Study: No anti-Semitism, anti-Israel push at most college campuses

JTA

October 23, 2012 | 10:50 am

Ninety-seven percent of U.S. and Canadian college campuses report no anti-Israel or anti-Semitic events, and the campus-based anti-Israel divestment effort has failed, according to a new study.

The American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise released the findings of its new study, “Israel and the Campus: The Real Story,” on Tuesday. Mitchell Bard, the AICE’s executive director, and Jeff Dawson, the private organization’s campus liaison, authored the report.

Student Jewish groups are beating back such efforts, according to the authors, because of professional guidance provided by campus Hillels and numerous other Jewish organizations, while the anti-Israel efforts are largely student-led.

Bard and Dawson tracked 674 anti-Israel events at 108 U.S. and Canadian universities during the 2011-12 academic year. One-third of the incidents took place on 10 campuses; four were in the University of California system. Several of the campuses, the report said, have strong pro-Israel groups and cannot be characterized as "hostile toward Israel.” 

Two anti-Israel groups -- the Muslim Students Association and Students for Justice in Palestine -- were responsible for most of the episodes.

While two American universities did adopt divestment resolutions as part of the anti-Israel boycott, sanctions and divestment campaign, several others were defeated. No American university has divested from Israel and prominent campus presidents have said they would oppose such efforts.

“Rather than weaken the relationship between U.S. colleges and Israel, the BDS movement has largely backfired and ties are stronger than ever and continue to grow,” the authors wrote.

The report also said that while a 2011 AICE survey with The Israel Project found that “a shocking 78 percent of Jewish students reported witnessing or personally being subjected to anti-Semitism,” the new report found the figure “inconsistent” with their findings. They noted that a recent survey by the Institute for Jewish & Community Research found that 43 percent of Jewish students saw anti-Semitism as a problem -- “a significantly lower, but still a disturbing figure.”

Recommendations in the new report include teaching about Israel “warts and all,” so that students can confidently discuss its complex environment; creating Taglit-Birthright Israel trips for high school students modeled on the popular free 10-day trip for those aged 18-26; and building more long-distance learning programs between Israeli and American Jewish students.

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