Hillel, Anti-Defamation League partner on campus antisemitism – Jewish News of Greater Phoenix

Posted By on October 2, 2021

The Anti-Defamation League and Hillel International are working together to document antisemitism on campus.

The two organizations are developing a curriculum about the history of antisemitism and how it manifests today. They will also survey schools nationwide to provide a better picture of the state of antisemitism on campus, and will create a dedicated system to jointly tally incidents of antisemitism at colleges and universities, including a portal for students to report incidents confidentially.

Debbie Yunker Kail, executive director of Hillel at Arizona State University and vice chair of Hillel Internationals directors cabinet, said the partnership will help students understand what antisemitism is and, most importantly, help students to call it out when they see it, she said.

The initiative follows a spike in reported antisemitic incidents on campuses nationwide. ADL tallied 244 antisemitic incidents on campuses nationwide, an increase from 181 the previous school year. Last August, posters featuring Hitler was right, unity of our blood and other antisemitic comments were found on ASUs campus for the second time in less than a year.

A recent survey of members of AEPi and AEPhi, the most prominent national Jewish fraternity and sorority, found that large numbers of respondents have experienced antisemitism on campus. The survey, conducted last April and commissioned by the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, also found that about half of respondents have felt the need to hide their Jewish identity on campus or in virtual campus settings. A slim majority said they are somewhat or very reluctant to share their views on Israel.

Leadership of AePhi ASU did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

ADL did not detail how it would verify whether confidentially submitted incidents actually occurred, beyond telling the Jewish Telegraphic Agency they would be judged by the methodology the group uses in its annual audit of antisemitic incidents. The methodology states that ADL carefully examines the credibility of all incidents, including obtaining independent verification when possible.

The student reporting process will be in addition to the systems already in place at each school. Yunker Kail said Hillel at ASU has a very clear bias reporting system so that students can report any concerns and works directly with students to report incidents. The campus organization also works with ASU administration to see an investigation through, she said.

Accusations of antisemitism on campus have received significant attention from large Jewish organizations for years. Some Jewish leaders have long said anti-Zionist activity on campus constitutes antisemitism, especially as a string of student governments endorsed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel movement.

Hillel International prohibits partnerships with, and the hosting of, campus groups that support BDS. Anti-Zionist groups have at times targeted Hillel; recently, Students for Justice in Palestine at Rutgers University criticized the schools Hillel in a statement endorsed by other campus groups.

An ADL spokesperson told JTA that anti-Israel activism alone is not antisemitism. Situations vary widely with BDS, we will carefully evaluate each one and make a determination based on our criteria for antisemitism, the spokesperson said.

For example, a BDS resolution alone would not count as antisemitism, but if a student was excluded from the debate because he or she was Jewish, then it might be counted, according to the spokesperson.

ADL said its partnership with Hillel would complement student activism and that the group will firmly support well-meaning student-led efforts to push back against antisemitism on campus.

In recent months, student activists have formed their own organizations to further their online activism, called the New Zionist Congress and Jewish on Campus. The New Zionist Congress hosts an online book club and discussions about Zionism, while Jewish on Campus records stories of college antisemitism on its Instagram account, which has posted more than 500 times and has 33,000 followers. The posts include an anonymous anecdote from an ASU student, saying they didnt feel safe at their on-campus job following antisemitic remarks from a colleague.

Yunker Kail said she expects campuses and communities will benefit from Hillels and ADLs new initiative in many ways, and it is one of several new initiatives Hillel International is undertaking to combat antisemitism.

It recently launched a partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism, and began an initiative with PayPal to research how extremists use online financial platforms. JN

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Hillel, Anti-Defamation League partner on campus antisemitism - Jewish News of Greater Phoenix

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