Anti-Semitism on College Campuses

As a Jewish student about to enter college in a month, I am disconcerted by data recently published by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) regarding anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses around the nation.

While the ADL reports that on a holistic scale anti-Semitism continues to experience mitigation, the annual survey revealed that derogatory episodes increased almost threefold on college campuses this past year.

It seems that this sort of behavior -- encompassing vandalism, rhetoric and inflammatory imagery -- has been correlated with anti-Israel movements, according to the ADL.

Reports the ADL, "Some of those incidents included the use of anti-Semitic imagery under the guise of anti-Israel activism, with conspiracy theories about Jewish political and economic control being voiced on campus."

Moreover, these incidents were not relegated to one part of the nation. The ADL's audit report shared the nature of incidents from campuses around the country -- from California to Florida.

Beyond finding this information discomfiting on a merely existential level, I am discouraged by the prospect that some of my peers seem to identify Judaism and Israeli politics as inextricably linked to one another.

This sort of rhetoric implies that all Jewish individuals support the most controversial of Israel's policies, such as settlement expansion and protection. This is simply not the case.

However, this distinction should not even matter. Regardless of an individual's personal political leaning, he or she should not have to face hostile and intimidating language. Instead, students should be free to express their opinions in an engaging environment -- especially in institutions of higher learning.

Even sadder, though, is that Jewish Americans are not the only people who find their religion entangled with politics. Americans of myriad walks of faith, including Muslims in recent years, have also faced belittlement galvanized by gross misperceptions.

What is clear is that there is still a need for organizations such as the ADL. Whether for Jewish groups or any other group, there is still a pressing need for education apropos of the effects of marginalization and defamation.

It is my hope that the students on these campuses will encourage one another to participate in dialogue about the pernicious effects of conflating disparate bodies into one tool for disparagement. Otherwise, our future will be no better than our present.

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