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New poll findings throw doubt on 'anti-Israel hostility' narrative within US campuses

A college student can be seen rehearsing for the High Holidays services at Hebrew Tabernacle of Washington Heights in New York City on 17 September 2020 [Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images]
A college student can be seen rehearsing for the High Holidays services at Hebrew Tabernacle of Washington Heights in New York City on 17 September 2020 [Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images]

The vast majority of American Jewish students do not feel unsafe or discriminated against because of the anti-Israel climate in US universities, a new survey by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) has found.

Asked if "The anti-Israel climate, on campus or elsewhere, has forced [me] to hide [my] Jewish identity," 62 per cent of Jewish millennials surveyed said that they disagreed with the statement. Some 41.7 per cent said that the statement describes their experience "not well at all" while 20.5 per cent said it describes their experience "not too well."

A further 10.9 per cent denied that there was an anti-Israel climate in American campuses which means that a total of 73 per cent of Jewish students disputed the claim that they have been forced to hide their Jewish identity because of hostility towards Israel.

In stark contrast to American Jewish millennials who said that their identity was not threatened by criticism of Israel, only ten per cent said that the above statement described their experience "very well" and a further 12.9 per cent said it described their experience "somewhat well."

The survey also found that 44 per cent of Jewish millennials said that their connection to Israel was either "not too important" or "not at all important" to their Jewish identity. Of the percentage of students that felt a connection to Israel, 26.8 per cent said that the occupation state was "somewhat important" to their identity and only 27.7 per cent said that it is "very important."

READ: The already 'messy break-up' of American Jews over Israel is getting messier

The findings are at odds with the narrative pushed by pro-Israel groups that campuses have become hostile to Jews. The poll suggests that the vast majority of American Jewish millennials have a very different experience to the agenda driven, pro-Israel groups that are seeking to shut down debate on Israel with allegations of anti-Semitism.

In the UK, where debate over Israel on campuses has seen the government intervene to moderate free speech over the occupation state, anti-Palestinian groups are seeking to remove a democratically elected president of the National Union of Students (NUS) with allegations of anti-Semitism.

The Union of Jewish Students, a "proud" Zionist organisation, which led the campaign to expel British Professor, David Miller, is spearheading a move to also expel NUS' incoming President Shaima Dallali. The anti-Palestinian group launched an open letter to obtain signatures of support for its campaign against Dallali.

But according to an investigation by the Electronic Intifada, several Jewish writers and activists whose names initially appeared on the petition publicly distanced themselves, saying they had never signed it in the first place.

READ: David Miller's sacking is just the start

"Hi @UJS_UK how did you allow my signature and several others to be falsified on this letter?" said columnist and commentator Barnaby Raine in a tweet. "Please investigate. This letter supports an IHRA text which denies Palestinians the right to talk freely about their dispossession, so you've associated me with racism without my consent."

Others were also puzzled as to how their names appeared on letter. The Union of Jewish Students' President Nina Freedman apologised to one of the person falsely included in the letter.

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