TEL AVIV – Anti-Israel activism on U.S. college campuses has undergone a regional shift, with the Midwest experiencing a sharp increase in anti-Israel boycott activities while the West Coast, formerly the center of anti-Israel activism, is showing a distinct drop, a new study has found.
The Israel On Campus Coalition (ICC) on Tuesday released its “2015-2016 Campus Trends Report,” which found that “Anti-Israel activity declined or remained constant in every region of the country except the Midwest, where campuses experienced a sharp increase in anti-Israel activism.”
“In California, once the center of anti-Israel involvement, [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] activity declined by more than 64 percent year over year, while BDS activism on Midwest campuses increased by 27 percent,” the report said.
The ICC spotlighted three universities, the University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University, as having undergone sharp increases in BDS and other anti-Israel activities.
Each of those universities this year passed boycott resolutions against Israel and staged multiple anti-Israel events, film screenings, lectures, and theme weeks such as “Israel Apartheid Week.”
According to the report, the changes reflect Chicago’s growing role as a hub for anti-Israel activism. The city serves as the headquarters of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), an organization that funds and provides material and programming assistance to the nationwide chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a rabidly anti-Israel campus group that has staged protests and intimidated Jewish students on North American campuses.
In addition to its support of SJP, the report claims AMP is “linked to a robust network of Chicago-based detractors, including the US Coalition to Boycott Israel, the BDS Campaign in Chicago, the Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine, and elements of the Palestine Liberation Organization.”
“AMP has transformed Chicago’s campuses into hubs of anti-Israel activity, encouraging and training students to attack Israel,” the report noted.
While the report found that, on the whole, BDS campaigns have declined on college campuses over the past year, there has been a dramatic rise in disruptions of Israel-related events.
The report also said that the emergence of “radical” anti-Israel Jewish groups, such as the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), have bolstered groups like SJP by “helping it legitimize anti-Zionist rhetoric and effectively defend against accusations of anti-Semitism.”
Together with SJP, the Jewish group was in charge of the campaign promoting the divestment resolution at the University of Chicago.
At Columbia University, JVP and SJP co-founded the “Columbia University Apartheid Divest” campaign as well as organizing the campus’ Israel Apartheid Week.
JVP activists also protested a campus visit by Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, charging that Barkat was guilty of incitement and “ethnic cleansing.”
Breitbart Jerusalem reported that San Francisco State University President Leslie Wong regretted his institution’s inaction over anti-Israel protesters who disrupted a lecture given by Barkat by shouting the mayor down with hate slogans.
The report also found that “intersectionality,” the idea that all forms of oppression are interrelated, has also contributed to the surge in anti-Israel sentiment. Coalitions between anti-Israel groups and other social justice causes, such as Movement for Black Lives, have increased as a result.
“These developments have transformed the anti-Israel movement on American campuses,” the report said. “After years of focusing efforts and resources to fighting BDS measures, Israel’s supporters must now adapt in order to address a broader range of anti-Israel efforts.”