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March 5th, 2015
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54% of Jewish American Students Experienced Anti-Semitism in 2014

54% of Jewish American Students Experienced Anti-Semitism in 2014

Anti-Semitism is on the rise not only in Europe, but in the US as well, a recent study has shown.

More than 50% of American college students have been victims of anti-Semitism, according to the 2014 National Demographic Survey of American Jewish College Students, which was published by Trinity College on Tuesday.

1,157 Jewish college students over 55 campuses across the US were surveyed for the Trinity College study over the 2013-2014 academic year over a variety of topics.

However, despite the control variables of topics other than anti-Semitism, a surprisingly high number of students reported being a victim of discrimination or hate because they were Jewish.

Overall, a reported 54% (631) have experienced anti-Semitism - whether by individual students (29%, 337), within student clubs (10%, 118), in class (6%, 66), in the student union (4%, 46), by the academic administration itself (38, 3%), or in other contexts (10%, 117).

Of those, 59% of female college students were victims of anti-Semitism; 51% of male college students also reported incidents. Discrimination was distributed fairly evenly by the year of college the student had completed, with 53% of college Freshmen, 58% of Sophomores, 59% of Juniors, and 58% of Seniors experiencing at least one anti-Semitic incident during the academic year. Even post-graduate students were not immune (54%).

The discrimination varied little by major, as well, with similar small variations between social science majors, humanities students, and science students.

However, anti-Semitism did differ drastically by region and by the type of university.

Of the total respondents, 70% of students in public universities in the southern US experienced anti-Semitism, versus just 48% in private schools in the same region - compared to 65% of public and 45% of private university students in the Midwest, 60% of public college students and 44% of private college students in the Western US. The trend was reversed in the Northeast; there, 56% of private college students experienced anti-Semitism, vs. 50% of public school students.

Overt religiosity not a factor

The level of religious observance and openness about being Jewish was not a significant factor, according to the study - with anti-Semitism being more or less universal by denomination.

Demographically, 90% of the respondents overall stated that they are "proud to be Jewish" and 71% agreed they “have a strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people”; however, just 23% identified as "religious."

When asked “When you think what it means to be a young Jew in America today, would you say that it means being a member of …”, 80% of the respondents overall chose "a cultural group," compared to 57% for "a religious group," 57% "a people" and 42% "an ethnic group."

In addition, only 8% of the students stated that they are visibly identifiable as Jews by dress - and yet, the study noted, a majority of Jewish college students still experienced anti-Semitism regardless.

59% of students who identified as "Conservative" experienced anti-Semitism in the 2013-14 academic year; so did 62% of respondents who identified as "Reform" and 52% who identified as "Orthodox."

Of those who experienced anti-Semitism, 67% were involved in a Jewish fraternity or sorority; 64% were involved with Chabad; and 63% were involved with the local Hillel.

Surprisingly, some 59% of students who stated they were "never" open about their Jewishness on campus experienced anti-Semitism despite it - nearly identical to the 58% of students who stated they were "always" open about their Jewish identity who also did.

Conclusions and trends

One trend noted in the study indicated a huge gap between students who experienced anti-Semitism based on their involvement in differing pro-Israel groups.

73% of students involved in the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) experienced anti-Semitism in 2014, vs. just 49% of the leftist group J-Street.

"This finding belies the canard that campus anti-Semitism is perceived primarily by conservative students," the study notes.

The study concluded by providing various trends regarding anti-Semitism on American college campuses.

Overall, it explained, AIPAC members are 80% more likely to report anti-Semitism than non-members; Hillel members were 50% higher. And while men and women experienced anti-Semitism nearly equally on campus, women were 40% likelier to report anti-Semitism, the study found.

The study reflects the fact that anti-Semitism is on the rise worldwide, with a World Zionist Organization (WZO) report in August stating a 127% rise in hate crimes against Jews in the US in 2014.

There are between 4.5-5.7 million American Jews, the largest Jewish community outside Israel.

 

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