News & Politics

Study Finds Massive Drop in Israel Support ... Among Jewish College Students

Study Finds Massive Drop in Israel Support ... Among Jewish College Students
Protestors march along Huntington Avenue at Northeastern University in support of Palestine after a university student organization, Students for Justice in Palestine, was "temporarily suspended for multiple violations of university policy over an extended period of time," according to a university statement in Boston, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Support for Israel has dropped by 27 percentage points among Jewish college students in the U.S. since 2010, according to a study released by the Brand Israel Group, a non-profit founded over a decade ago. Fern Oppenheim, the co-founder of the Brand Israel Group, wrote that support for Israel among Jewish college students is now at 57%, down from 84% in 2010, according to her organization’s research.

While the study found a decrease in support for Israel among the U.S. population as a whole, it noted that the drop in support for Israel was especially acute for Jewish college students, who appear to be abandoning support for Israel in droves. The Jerusalem Post noted that this drop in support isn’t surprising, especially considering the place that Israel occupies in campus discussions.

According to the study, 62% of Jewish college students have witnessed anti-Israel activity on campus, and 31% of Jewish college students have experienced anti-Semitism. On many college campuses, pro-Israel sentiment is often overshadowed by anti-Israel/anti-Jewish activists, who are often much louder and aggressive in their tactics.

For example, as I reported directly from Columbia University earlier this year, Students for Justice in Palestine at Columbia dedicated an entire week to hosting events geared to reduce students’ support for Israel. It hosted events on why “Zionism is Racism,” and smeared Israel as a racist “Apartheid state.” Not only that, but anti-Israel students shouted down a speech by Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, and even held a hunger strike in condemnation of Israel during final exams.

The string of anti-Israel events at Columbia are not an anomaly. Hundreds of other college campuses have seen anti-Israel sentiment fostered by chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine and similar organizations — which generally receive funding and support from their college’s administration.

PJ Media spoke with a few college students to learn what they think about the results of the study. All of the students interviewed agreed that they’ve seen support for Israel decline on their respective college campuses.

Alex Solomon, a junior at Rider College and the founder of his school’s Republicans Club, told PJ Media that the declining support for Israel among Americans is concerning:

From what I can see, support for Israel among both students on campus and college-aged young students and Jews seems to be declining, and it is very concerning to me and to family members on both sides of the political aisle, as Israel is a bipartisan issue.

Solomon, who is Jewish and has family in Israel, noted that he believes the decrease in support for Israel has many causes, and that fighting against false information spread on college campuses could be one way to fight back against it. “We need to combat the argument on college campuses with facts and with proof of the real truth,” said Solomon, noting that the issue is particularly important because Israel is one of the few places “where Jews can live freely and safely no matter the climate of the world or the amount of people who attempt to persecute us.”

Aviv Khavich, a junior at Rutgers University who was born in Israel but moved to America at the age of two, told PJ Media that the declining support for Israel could be linked to the campus climate at most colleges:

More and more, leftist spaces on and off campus are becoming hostile to Judaism and Zionism (which truly are the same ideology) and American Jews are choosing this leftism over their people, their homeland, and their ancestral values.

Jacob Abraham Ellenhorn, an incoming student at the University of Southern California School of Law, believes the decrease in support for Israel is caused, in part, by the declining religious convictions of Jewish college students:

A lot of Jewish students will identify as Jewish, but their actual tie to the religion is a lot less than what would have been in previous generations. Basically, a lot of what Judaism is about has been replaced by a social justice initiative. (Emphasis added)

Further, Ellenhorn noted that many well-meaning Jewish college students have adopted a social-justice mentality, which is anti-Israel on most American college campuses:

Because of their intense interest in healing the world, rather than actually promoting the religion, they’ve adopted the social justice warrior, politically correct, mentality of the American left. And the American Left tells them that Israel is the aggressor, that Israel is the cause of most every problem in the Middle East.

Many Jewish students have adopted that mentality, and aren’t supporting Israel anymore.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen

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