A new survey of Jewish students at some of America’s most elite universities has found that they rarely experience anti-Semitism but that most have been exposed to anti-Israel hostility.
The study, conducted by Brandeis University’s Steinhardt Social Research Institute, surveyed Jewish and non-Jewish students at Brandeis, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan.
The strong majority of Jewish students at all four schools said that they had not been exposed to anti-Semitism on campus and that their schools were not a hostile environment for Jews. The number of students who felt their schools were hostile to Jews ranged from 2% at Harvard to 21% at Michigan.
At all four schools, over 95% of Jewish students felt safe on campus.
A majority of Jewish students — ranging from 63% at Penn to 75% at Michigan — said that they had heard hostile remarks towards Israel. But most students at the three private schools studied said that their universities did not have “a hostile environment toward Israel.” An exception was Michigan, which has been the frequent site of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel. There, 51% of students said that their school was hostile towards Israel.
However, the study found that support for an boycott of Israeli academic institutions and scholars, one of the main demands of BDS campaigns, had very limited student body support. Brandeis had the highest support for that measure of the four schools, and that was only at 12%. “These results suggest that campus BDS resolutions may not represent the view of a majority of students on campus, but rather the agenda of a vocal minority,” the authors wrote.
Most Jewish students do not find Jewish or Israeli issues to be the most pressing concern on campus, with topics like race, sexual assault and mental health taking higher priority.