A recent survey of four U.S. colleges and universities found that the vast majority of college students do not support efforts for academic boycotts of Israeli professors or educational institutions.
The surveys, conducted by the Brandeis University Steinhardt Social Research Institute, were comprised of a variety of questions related to the State of Israel. They were distributed to students attending the University of Michigan, Brandeis University, University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University.
A majority of Jewish students from each of the schools surveyed said that anti-Semitism was not prevalent on their campus. Most Jewish students surveyed did not report any experiences of religious discrimination at their schools. Additionally, the vast majority of Jewish students reported that they “had not personally heard any of a number of anti-Semitic remarks with any frequency.”
According to the survey findings, the percentage of non-Jewish students who would support a campus-wide boycott of Israeli academic institutions and scholars was less than 10 percent at all schools except for Brandeis University, where 12 percent of non-Jewish students expressed support for the boycott.
The survey also revealed that support for the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement is also extremely rare on college campuses. According to the survey authors, “At each of these schools support for an academic boycott of Israel was virtually nonexistent among Jewish students and was rare among non-Jewish students.”
When Jewish students were asked about whether they thought there was a hostile environment towards Israel on their college campus, the majority from Penn, Brandeis, and Harvard said they felt the campus was not hostile. However, a majority of Jewish students surveyed from the University of Michigan “agreed to any extent that the school had a hostile environment toward Israel.”
While there have not been reports of anti-Semitic activity toward Jewish individuals at the University of Michigan in the last year, the UMich Central Student Government recently passed a resolution calling on the university to completely divest from companies with business in Israel, including Boeing, Hewlett-Packard and United Technologies because the companies supposedly "violate Palestinian human rights."
Overall, the general sentiment on campus is not anti-Semitic, which would lead one to think the BDS movement against Israel on campus is led by a select few. Despite the renewed national attention on anti-Semitism, this study shows that college campuses are not hotbeds for anti-Semitism.
John Patrick (@john_pat_rick) is a graduate of Canisius College and Georgia Southern University. He interned for Red Alert Politics during the summer of 2012 and has continued to contribute regularly.