(JTA) — Student governments considered resolutions to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel at 17 college campuses in the United States during the 2020-2021 school year, according to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League.
The watchdog group, which released the data Wednesday as part of its annual reporting, called the BDS resolutions a “cornerstone of anti-Israel campus activity during the last year.”
During a school year in which a May conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza was accompanied by widespread criticism of Israel on and beyond college campuses, the number of student governments entertaining BDS resolutions was not dramatically higher than in the recent past.
Of the bills supporting the Israel boycott, 11 passed, according to the report released Wednesday.
That was fewer than in the 2015-2016 school year, according to the ADL’s report about that year, when it documented 23 BDS resolutions, of which 14 passed. The following year, student governments considered 14 BDS resolutions, passing six; the year after that, five of 12 resolutions passed. (In the 2019-2020 school year, just four BDS resolutions came before student governments; the lower number is likely explained by the pandemics abrupt school closures.)
According to the U.S. Education Department, there are nearly 4,000 “degree-granting postsecondary institutions” in the United States, meaning that BDS resolutions were introduced at .425% of college campuses and passed at .275% of campuses last year.
None has been implemented, noted the ADL, which also noted that in some cases university presidents rejected the student government resolutions.
The ADL’s position is that not all criticism of Israel is antisemitic, but that the BDS movement is. Its report concludes that anti-Israel activity on campus last year continued to “span from legitimate criticism of Israeli government policies to expressions of antisemitism from some activists.”
Student leaders at at least two universities, the report notes, faced “exclusionary calls because of their expressions of support for Israel and Zionism” and one of them resigned over it.
“As we saw acutely during the May conflict with Hamas, the anti-Israel movement’s drumbeat of rhetorical attacks on Zionism and Zionists can truly hurt and offend many Jewish students, leaving them feeling ostracized and alienated,” the ADL’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, said in a statement accompanying the report.
In a different report released this fall, the ADL found that one-third of Jewish college students said they had personally experienced antisemitism in the last year.