Jewish students are refraining from expressing support for Israel on campuses in the US and Europe due to their fear of anti-Semitism, students told the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, according to an official report issued Monday.
A survey presented by the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs showed that in 2015 some 9,000 verbal anti-Semitic attacks were reported on Facebook; 11,354 on Twitter; and 4,468 on Instagram. In addition, 4,465 anti-Semitic video clips were posted on YouTube. It was also found that 40 percent of Europe’s citizens are anti-Semitic and 75 percent of Jewish students in the US were attacked for anti-Semitic reasons.
Jewish students living abroad told the committee that anti-Semitism and the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement are causing them to conceal their Jewish identity (some keep their yarmulkes in their pockets) and their pro-Israel positions.
Committee Chairman MK Avraham Neguise (Likud) said, “Today, mainly on academic campuses dominated by extreme liberalism, anti-Semitism is disguised as condemnation of the Jewish State. It is fueled by hatred towards the State of Israel.”
“When it is no longer polite and fashionable to hate Jews as they are,” said Neguise, “the hatred is disguised as criticism of the Jewish State.”
Prof. Irwin Cotler, former Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada, said the current level of anti-Semitism “is the highest in 40 years, and includes the rejection of Israel’s right to exist at all, and the portrayal of Israel as a monster and enemy of mankind.”
He added that under the UN’s patronage, Israel is condemned more than any other country. “And the amazing thing is that the countries which lead the condemnations under the claim of ‘damage to human rights’ are Iran, China, and Saudi Arabia.”
Gilad Kabilo, activity coordinator at the StandWithUs organization, spoke of their 15 years of activity, including in social media. “We thwart boycott-related activities while producing good results on the ground, and we distribute accurate information about Israel, as well as promote discourse on the right of the Jewish nation to its historical native land,” he told the committee.
Ido Daniel, Program Director at Israeli Students Combating Anti-Semitism, spoke of the increasing anti-Semitic incitement on the web. The program’s activists fight [anti-Semitism on the web] using 16 languages, and have combated more than 30,000 anti-Semitic incidents on social media over the last year alone.
“People in the world understand that boycott or criticism of Israel’s policy means denial of the Holocaust, the demonization of Jews, and a license to murder Jews,” he said. “The outcome is that Jews are afraid to openly express their Judaism.”
MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) spoke of the UN-funded textbooks in the Palestinian Authority. “They are full of pathological hatred towards Jews, desire and aspiration for Israel’s destruction,” she said, while noting that a Jewish friend of hers in Atlanta said that this year she refrained from placing a Hanukkah menorah at her window.
According to Hagai Bar of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Today’s boycott activists have withdrawn from attack to defense mode, and are currently fighting over the right to boycott.”
Jonathan Elkhoury of the Christian Empowerment Council spoke of the change in the position of many students after they hear a Christian Arab such as himself defending of Israel.
Juda Stone of the Jewish Agency warned of the phenomenon of Jewish students who are afraid of anti-Semitism, which “leads them to escape their own identity.”
Benny Fischer, president of the European Union of Jewish students, said that not all those who support boycotting Israel are anti-Semitic, but they see themselves as “peace activists.” He also warned against the use of phrases such as “Jews have no future in Europe.”
Hadar Farkash, a student at Berkley University, spoke of the phenomenon of anti-Israel lecturers, as well as Palestinians and Americans – and even Jews – who are anti-Israel.
Jonah Shipmiler of NGO Monitor spoke of boycott movements which operate in Israel and encourage Israeli youngsters not to enlist in the IDF.
Jerusalem Institute of Justice, in cooperation with CA-inspiration, which operates on US campuses using a unique method which incorporates campaign research in social media, presented to the committee figures on exposure to content through social media. The exposure itself brought about a thorough change in the discourse at the Indiana University and Purdue campuses, as well as a profound change in the way organizations which promote incitement and violent discourse against Israel operate on social networks.