Tablet Magazine reports on an interesting new survey on the experiences of Jewish students of antisemitism at American colleges.
A new study from the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and Trinity College found that anti-Semitism is on the rise on U.S. college campuses. Their National Demographic Survey of American Jewish College Students polled 1,157 students about their campus experience, and found that 44 to 73 percent, with an average of 54 percent, reported experiencing anti-Semitism during the first six months of the 2013-2014 academic year.
The study found that anti-Semitism pervades all campuses, not just ones with strong anti-Israel activism or in parts of the country where Jews are a smaller minority.The report itself is available at Antisemitism Report (pdf).
There also appears to have been a shift in who is experiencing anti-Semitism on campus. While Orthodox men, who are visibly identifiable as Jewish, had previously been the most likely target of anti-Semitism, the study found that students who identify as Conservative or Reform were reporting incidents most often (as were participants in Jewish campus organizations).
Jewish women feel far more at risk on campus, with 59 percent (as opposed to 51 percent of men) reporting witnessing bigotry firsthand.
The rise of anti-Semitism internationally in the wake of last summer’s Gaza war has been much discussed. What’s interesting about this study is that it’s based on incidents from the 2013-2014 school year, before the war.
One of the most interesting findings of the survey is that younger Jews report much more exposure to antisemitic incidents than older Jews.
According to the Pew Research Center’s 2013 Survey of U.S. Jews, anti-Semitism in the U.S. today is a problem mainly facing the younger generation of American Jews. Among Jews aged 18-29 years, 22% reported being called offensive names during 2012. By comparison, 6% of those ages 50-64 years and only 4% of those 65 or older said this happened to them in the past year.When I started teaching I was surprised to discover that some of my Jewish students had encountered forms of antisemitism that I had only read about. They said that at home they had regularly heard people say "Jew (someone) down" (meaning to get something more cheaply), and some had had pennies thrown at them (same idea). At college, mezuzahs on doors had been ripped off, and swastikas had been scrawled on walls. A few reported hearing antisemitic expressions from friends of theirs. A few reported having been asked about whether they had horns. Given what I've heard from my students, I'm not surprised at this report.
Incidents like these do not end up in the FBI's statistics on hate crimes, since they don't rise to the level of crimes. But they do make Jewish students feel unsafe, and wondering where they will find the support they need.