January 2020 -- Tevet-Shevat 5780,  Volume 26, Issue 1

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Anti-Semitism Has a Corrosive Effect at Colleges and Universities

By Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and National Director ADL


Over the past few years, we have witnessed a stark erosion of support and safety for Jewish students on campus.


This has led to incident after incident that shows how anti-Semitism, often in the guise of BDS and other anti-Israel sentiment, has had a corrosive effect at colleges and universities.


These incidents have been fueled by anti-Semitic activism from both the left and right, ranging from white supremacist fliers posted in dorms (ADL reports that such incidents are up for the third consecutive year), to faculty who deny recommendations to Jewish students to study abroad when the country they wish to study in is Israel.

In this climate of rising anti-Semitism, the new Executive Order being issued December 11, 2019, by the Trump Administration, provides valuable guidance, giving law enforcement and campus officials an important additional tool to help identify and fight this pernicious hate.


Anti-Semitism on campus is a critical issue and we at ADL have supported bipartisan efforts to improve the federal tools to combat it for years. Today’s Executive Order reaffirms protection of Jews without infringing on First Amendment rights. These are important steps forward.


We also welcome this Executive Order for confirming that the U.S. will adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism, which ADL has long supported.


The IHRA definition will be used by the Department of Education in reviewing potential violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to consider as part of its assessment of whether an incident or activity may be anti-Semitic.


That definition states:

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”


The IHRA definition allows for appropriate political expression but also draws the line when such words are used to discriminate, harass and intimidatie.


The Executive Order is similar to the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act that had bipartisan support in House and Senate in 2016 and that ADL long has supported.


We at ADL support bipartisan efforts to combat anti-Semitism on campus and in all platforms, offline and online.


ADL’s resources to combat anti-Semitism on campus include:


• Think. Plan. Act., which gives students the tools to respond to anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incidents.


• Hate/Uncycled, our guide for college and university administrators and law enforcement teams.


These resources provide critical support for Jewish students.


ADL also responds to reports of anti-Semitism through each of our 25 regional offices across the U.S. If you witness an incident of anti-Semitism, take action by reporting it to us online.