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A third of Jewish college students experienced antisemitism last year — survey

Illustrative: Two young women wear Israeli flags around their waists as a Jewish band plays at a pro- Israel gathering on the Rutgers University campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey campus, October 10, 2003. (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer)
Illustrative: Two young women wear Israeli flags around their waists as a Jewish band plays at a pro- Israel gathering on the Rutgers University campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey campus, October 10, 2003. (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer)

A third of Jewish college students say they have personally experienced antisemitism in the last year, according to a new survey conducted jointly by Hillel and the Anti-Defamation League.

The two groups recently announced a partnership aimed at combating antisemitism on college campuses; the survey represents one of the first fruits of the relationship.

The results add data and texture to the picture of Jewish life on campus that has been built in recent years in large part on anecdotes and firestorms. They suggest that the majority of Jewish students at American colleges feel safe and supported on campus — but that a significant minority have experienced antisemitism or obscured their Jewish identity out of fear of antisemitism.

The survey offers a “strong validation of the reality that Jewish students are facing, which is a significant and unacceptable level of antisemitism and other anti-Jewish bias,” Hillel International CEO Adam Lehman tells the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Fifteen percent of students who responded to the survey say they have “felt the need to hide” their Jewish identity and six percent say they have felt unwelcome in a campus organization because they are Jewish.

Often, the survey finds, students report being or feeling excluded because of their actual or perceived support for Israel. Conducted online in July and August, the survey captured sentiment shortly after the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza in May contributed to a spike in pro-Palestinian activism on college campuses and beyond.

The survey includes 756 self-identified Jewish college students on 220 campuses and has a margin of error of 4%. It drew from a national sample of college students, meaning that students surveyed were not all engaged with Hillel or other aspects of Jewish life on their campuses. Those that did engage with activities were more likely to say they have experienced antisemitism, the survey finds, but they are also more likely to report feeling safe on campus as Jews.

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