Majority of Jewish students on US uni campuses hiding religion in fear, survey finds

A new survey has found that anti-Israel protests on US campuses have left several Jewish students feeling unsafe at school. 40% of them believe the need to hide their Jewish identities.

Majority of Jewish students on US uni campuses hiding religion in fear amid anti-Israel protests (REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs/File Photo)(REUTERS)

As many as 310 students across the country were polled by a Jewish campus organisation named Hillel International. The survey found that four in 10 Jewish students had been hiding their Jewish identities on campus. 32% are too scared to attend religious events.

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Six in ten said that anti-Israel encampments made it more difficult for them to learn, study or concentrate. 42% said they have lost most of their trust in their school’s faculty after the protests. 15% said they do not wish to return to their school next fall.

‘There is a lot of anxiety’

“There is a lot of anxiety about disruptions to commencement, whether or not they will be tolerated and what the response to them will be,” said Jillian Lederman, a senior graduating from Brown University on May 26, according to New York Post.

“I graduated high school on YouTube because of the pandemic and we’re now entering graduation season and a lot of the same anxieties about events being canceled and ceremonies being disrupted are cropping up again in a way that many of us didn’t anticipate,” Lederman, 21, added.

A petition demanding that university administrators put more effort to support students and safeguard graduation ceremonies has garnered more than 32,000 signatures. Among universities that have cancelled their main ceremonies are Columbia and the University of Southern California.

Lederman said that students at Brown are lucky that events have not been cancelled, and that Jewish students have not been targeted violently. “I think that’s really a reflection of how terribly other schools have handled it,” she said.

Around 1,600 incidents of campus antisemitism were tracked by Hilllel following the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel. “Jewish students, and all students, deserve to pursue their education and celebrate their graduations free from disruption, antisemitism, and hate,” said Adam Lehman, president and CEO of Hillel.

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