REPORT: Anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses nearly doubled in 2015

Jenna Lawrence
Campus Reform Intern

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  • A new report by the Anti-Defamation League shows that the number of anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses nearly doubled in 2015, while anti-Jewish assaults are up 60 percent across the United States.
  • There were 90 reports of anti-Semitic assaults, threats, harassment, and vandalism in 2015, compared to just 47 in 2014.
  • A new report by the Anti-Defamation League shows that the number of anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses nearly doubled in 2015, while anti-Jewish assaults are up 60 percent across the United States.

    ADL’s audit, which was published on its website on Wednesday, shows a sharp rise in reported anti-Semitic incidents on American college campuses, a statistic which includes assaults, threats, harassment, and vandalism.

    “For every incident reported, there’s likely another that goes unreported.”   

    Between 2005 and 2013, the number of reported incidents against Jews had steadily declined from 1,757 to 751, but 2014 saw a slight rise in the reported numbers, with 912 such incidents taking place during what ADL deemed a “particularly violent year for Jews” in a press release.

    The press release linked the increase—which included “a violent anti-Semitic shooting attack targeting Jewish community buildings in Kansas and anti-Jewish expressions”—to the Gaza War overseas.

    In addition, ADL National Chairman Barry Curtiss-Lusher pointed out that “the reported increase in U.S. anti-Semitic incidents coincided with a huge upsurge in anti-Semitic attacks in Europe and elsewhere around the globe.”

    Following the 21 percent jump in 2014, the trend continued in 2015, as the number of incidents increased suddenly from 47 anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses to 90—a spike of nearly 100 percent.

    Those 90 incidents, which constitute 10 percent of the national total for 2015, occurred across 60 American college campuses. In total, there were 941 anti-Semitic assault, threat, harassment, and vandalism incidents reported in 2015.

    Perhaps most telling, however, is the unknown number of unreported incidents.

    “For every incident reported, there’s likely another that goes unreported,” remarked ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “So even as the total incidents have remained statistically steady from year to year, the trend toward anti-Semitic violence is very concerning.”

    Israeli news outlet Haaretz reports that online harassment has increased recently, as well, and the Anti-Defamation League website supplemented its report with several examples of incidents that happened on college campuses in 2015.

    One highly publicized act of vandalism occurred in January 2015, when the Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi at the University of California, Davis was defaced by perpetrators who spray-painted red swastikas on the exterior of the house.

    The vandalism occurred on a Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, and coincided with the 70th anniversary of the liberation the death camp Auschwitz by the Soviets, but, notably, also took place just days after the Student Senate had passed a resolution calling on the school to divest from companies with ties to Israel.

    [RELATED: Jewish frat covered in swastikas days after divestment vote]

    A few months later, another chapter of the same fraternity endured a similar attack at Vanderbilt University, where swastikas were found written on elevators and doors inside the fraternity house.

    [RELATED: Jewish frat vandalized with swastikas at Vandy]

    Another similar example occurred in April 2015 when members of Stanford University’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon woke to swastikas painted outside, and the following month at Drexel University, a student was harassed when someone duct-taped the word “JEW” and a swastika next to the student’s Israeli flag, which was located in his dorm room.

    In response, many college administrators have condemned any anti-Semitic actions that occur on campus, but often they will not link them to religious-based crimes.

    [RELATED: UCI Chancellor downplays school’s history of anti-Semitic incidents]

    Even so, the FBI’s November report shows that over 56 percent of anti-religious crimes were linked to anti-Semitism, The University Herald reports.

    “We are disturbed that violent anti-Semitic incidents are rising,” Greenblatt said, while also speculating that the Internet might not only be helping to fuel the trend, but also to conceal its true magnitude.

    “Online hate is particularly disturbing because of the ubiquity of social media and its deep penetration into our daily lives, plus the anonymity offered by certain platforms which facilitates this phenomenon,” he explained. “The issue has grown exponentially in recent years because the Internet provides racists and bigots with an outlet to reach a potential audience of millions. We plan to adapt future versions of the Audit to account for such online harassment.”

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @jelawrence72



    Jenna Lawrence

    Jenna Lawrence

    Campus Reform Intern

    Jenna Lawrence is an intern with Campus Reform. A proud resident of Dallas, Texas, she graduated from Dallas Baptist University after studying English and Political Science and has worked with local and state political campaigns.

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