Targeting Israel at Schools Alienates Jewish Students and Strikes Fear


See our “Dispelling Falsehoods, Stating Facts” section to help address difficult questions about the conflict.

Jews are always told that we are not allowed to speak up for ourselves. You cannot allow yourself to be pushed out. We are showing resilience and strength. The Jewish people are not going anywhere.” – University of California, Santa Barbara Student Government President Tessa Veksler

University of California, Santa Barbara Student Government President Tessa Veksler stands outside her office, Feb. 22, 2024. (Instagram)

The unrelenting attacks on Jewish students across America increasingly threatens and frightens the Jewish community. From kindergarten to college campuses, a growing number of young Jews do not feel safe in their schools. Younger Americans are not only more likely to oppose Israel, they increasingly endorse anti-Jewish myths. Attacks on Jews, especially at schools, has led The Atlantic to publish a story, “The Golden Age of American Jews is Ending.” The intense threat campaign is being waged to intimidate and silence Jews, weaken the community and cease all American support for Israel.

Campus Horrors: ‘It’s open season on Jews’

It is no secret that numerous university campuses have been a hotbed of anti-Jewish hatred for many years. Recently, Jewish students testified before the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce:

  • “It’s open season on Jews on our campus.” – Noah Rubin, Univ. of Pennsylvania
  • “We have been attacked by sticks outside our library. We have been attacked by angry mobs and we have been threatened to ‘Keep fvcking running.’” – Eden Yadegar, Columbia
  • “A Harvard employee posted a video on his social media with a machete and a picture of my face saying he wants to fight and has a plan.” – Shabbos Kestenbaum, Harvard

Many universities have opened investigations into anti-Jewish hatred. However, most of these taskforces have featured a lot of talk but minimal action. A Jewish Harvard professor told Jewish Insider: “They’ve utterly failed to protect Jewish and Israeli students. It’s shameful.” Multiple taskforce chairs at Harvard resigned. Progressive Democrat and unwavering Israel-supporter, Rep. Ritchie Torres: “I think it has become indisputable that these institutions are systemically antisemitic. They cannot be trusted to police themselves.”

Hate graffiti on posters at Harvard University of Hamas-held hostages, including 1-year-old Kfir Bibas, Jan. 22, 2024. (Screenshot/X)

University of California Incidents: ‘Jew, you Jew, you Jew!’

Hundreds of pro-Hamas students and their supporters swarmed a recent University of California, Berkeley event. The mob stormed a campus theater, broke windows and forced the police to evacuate the Jewish students. Senior Vida Keyvanfar described: “They found us. It was a gigantic mob of people stomping, marching and screaming. There was spit flying left and right. And I’m screaming for the police.” An angry Hamas supporter yelled, “Jew, you Jew, you Jew,” into a student’s face.

Pro-Hamas students recently targeted the Jewish student government president at UC, Santa Barbara: “You can run but you can’t hide, Tessa Veksler,” and, “Get these Zionists out of office.” The university denounced the messages as “a violation of our community and inclusion.” Yet, a now former member of the university’s multicultural center used its official social media account to tell all Jews that they should leave Israel and go “back to Poland or the USA.”

In another notable incident, Jewish and Israeli students were asked to remove the word “Jewish” from all literature for a 10/7 vigil by administrators at Vermont’s Middlebury College, according to a recently filed Title VI civil rights complaint by the StandWithUs Center for Legal Justice.

A poster at Sydney University in Australia celebrating Hamas is representative of pro-Hamas groups on universities around the world. (Australian Jewish Association/X)

K-12 Schools: ‘I live in fear’

A NY high school world history teacher Danielle Kaminsky “lives in fear of going to work every day. I’ve had students call me a ‘dirty Jew,’ draw swastikas on my desk, tell me they wanted to kill my family.” Students also saluted Hitler. Two staff members accused high school leaders of ignoring their complaints and creating a hostile environment.

The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under the Law and the Anti-Defamation League recently filed a federal complaint against Berkeley CA public schools for “severe and persistent” discrimination against Jewish children. Bullying has been instigated by students – and even teachers. They have stood silent while students chanted: “Kill the Jews” and “Kill Israel.”

Berkeley teachers are indoctrinating their students: “A second-grade teacher instructed students to write ‘messages of anti-hate’ on sticky notes. The teacher wrote, ‘Stop Bombing Babies,’ and many of her students followed suit. The teacher instructed her students to put them on the door of the only Jewish teacher in the school.”

Legal action can be successful in forcing school administrators to confront and eliminate anti-Jewish hate. StandWithUs won a legal battle on behalf of a 9th grade student who was physically assaulted and taunted with Holocaust jokes. SWU’s Center for Combating Antisemitism sent a letter to the principal and district superintendent on behalf of concerned parents about an anti-Israel lesson taught to 2nd graders at a WA elementary school. The school district and principal admitted that a lesson promoting the destruction of Israel was not within the district-approved curriculum and noted the district has opened an investigation.

“We are dealing with a far more insidious problem that has crept into the educational system at much lower levels, with teachers indoctrinating young minds with anti-Israel propaganda and misinformation that incites violence and undermines and denies 3,000 years of Jewish history in the Land of Israel,” stated Carly Gammill, who directs the nonprofit’s Center for Combating Antisemitism.

Younger Americans More Likely to Believe Anti-Jewish Myths

The ADL’s Center for Antisemitism Research released its annual report, Antisemitic Attitudes in America 2024. Individuals who held negative attitudes toward Israel-related policies, Israeli people, and Israel-oriented conspiracy theories were significantly more likely to believe anti-Jewish stereotypes, myths and tropes.

The survey confirmed a worrying trend seen in similar surveys that show support for Israel among younger Americans is plummeting. Anti-Jewish beliefs are increasing in America but the rates are higher among younger Americans. More than half of Gen Z respondents express some degree of comfort being friends with a Hamas supporter.


1. Schools must take decisive action against targeting of Jewish students

U.S. Rep. Kathy Manning reflects with alarm: “Is this 1932 Germany? Is this Russia in 1903, when my grandparents fled pogroms to this country seeking refuge from antisemites?” Attacks on Jewish students are a severe violation of their civil rights, and defy the principles of inclusivity and diversity that educational institutions claim to uphold. Yet, repeatedly, schools from kindergarten to college break their own rules. MIT student Talia Khan described “DEI administrators, an inter-faith chaplain and faculty who publicly supported antisemitic blood libel conspiracy theories.” Parents, teachers and community members should actively support efforts to create an educational environment where all students feel safe, respected and valued.

2. Seemingly separate incidents intended to decrease American support for Israel

The events on university campuses across America are deliberately planned to pressure Americans into abandoning their support for Israel. This notably includes national politicians. The rising tide of hatred on campus also emboldens support for the anti-Jewish, anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS). Student governments at the University of California, Davis, and Tufts University recently passed anti-Israel resolutions. A divestment referendum was approved by 68% of University of Virginia students. The Virginia attorney general urged the UVA board to “explicitly reject and definitively repudiate the misguided attempt by the UVA student body to undermine the legitimacy of Israel. This is not a time for moral confusion.”

3. Younger Americans are more likely to be hostile to Jews and Israelis

UC Santa Barbara Student Government President Tessa Veksler described how “anti-Zionist rhetoric targets, isolates and vilifies Jewish students.” According to a recent ADL report, social networks and social norms are increasing the acceptance of antisemitism. Young Americans are learning on social media that Israel is a villain that must be destroyed. Anti-Israel and anti-Jewish rhetoric on campus strengthens these views and creates the warped perception that it is okay to demonize Jews. Education is needed to teach students about the history, culture and contributions of the Jewish people and Israelis, and to combat prejudice, breakdown stereotypes and build bridges of understanding.


Dispelling Falsehoods, Stating Facts

You might hear: Jews are from Europe and should return there

REALITY: These lies are intended to delegitimize Jewish claims to their ancestral homeland. If Jews are Europeans, they are colonizers who should leave and cannot claim their homeland in Israel. The Israel Antiquities Authority discovered a nearly 2,000-year-old ancient Israelite coin in the Judean desert – the heart of the Jewish homeland. The rare coin is from the era of the Bar Kokhba revolt and features the name Eleazar the Priest. Three additional coins were found, bearing the name Shimon. Archaeological excavations and chance digging routinely uncover proof of the ancient connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.


You might hear: Arabs can’t be antisemitic because Arabs also are Semites.

REALITY: There are no Semites. There are Semitic languages, which include Hebrew and Arabic. The word antisemitism was popularized by a German nationalist whose writings were widely used by the Nazis. The term antisemitism is specific to the Jewish people. Since many individuals do not know what antisemitism means because it is not clear from the word, anti-Jewish hatred is an alternative.


You might hear: Jews call any criticism of Israel antisemitic.

REALITY: Israelis have been protesting against the current Israeli government for more than a year, and since its statehood in 1948, citizens have vocally exercised their democratic rights. It would be absurd to consider this antisemitism. The widely accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism is clear that criticisms of the Israeli government that are just like any other government, are not antisemitic. Criticism of the Jewish state that crosses the line into anti-Jewish hate includes denying Jews self-determination, stating Israel’s existence is racist, applying double standards, characterizing Israelis using blood libels and ludicrous comparisons between Israeli policies and the Nazis.


A. Speak to your children about what is happening at their school

Take active steps to engage your children in open discussions about current events at their school, especially any persecution of Jewish students. Start by creating a safe and non-judgmental environment where they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns. Ask open-ended questions. Encourage them to notify you of any incidents of bullying, harassment or discrimination directed at them or other Jewish students so that you can inform school leaders. Also, reinforce values of tolerance, respect and empathy towards all individuals regardless of their background.

B. Get involved in schools, from kindergarten to college

There are many ways to engage schools at all levels to help combat and prevent the persecution of Jews. Volunteering at local schools, participating in parent-teacher organizations, advocating for curriculum that teaches about Jewish culture, organizing workshops to offer support and speaking out at school board meetings are actions to consider. At universities, consider contacting administrators and supporting Jewish student organizations.

C.   Free legal assistance against antisemitism from kindergarten to college

  • Campus Antisemitism Legal Line (CALL) to address anti-Jewish incidents on university campuses. Launched by the ADL, Brandeis Center, Hillel International and Gibson Dunn law firm.
  • StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department provides pro bono lawyers focused on defending Israel and fighting antisemitism from Kindergarten to college.
  • The Campus Civil Rights Project by The Lawfare Project provides guidance and legal assistance to students, professors and campus groups.
  • K-12 Antisemitism Legal Line for California residents. This program was launched by the ADL, Brandeis Center and StandWithUs because “far too many school principals and administrators are failing in their legal responsibilities and choosing to sweep escalating antisemitism under the rug.”

Examples of situations that may be legal violations, include:

  • Being treated differently or discriminated against because you or your organization is Jewish
  • In-person or online harassment
  • Intentional damage to your property or a physical attack because you’re Jewish


UN Report Confirms Hamas Sex Crimes of Israeli Girls and Women on 10/7 and in Captivity

The United Nations finally released a substantive report confirming “clear and convincing” evidence that Hamas carried out sex crimes during the 10/7 attacks and on hostages they still hold in captivity. There is a planned protest outside of the UN on International Women’s Day, March 8, in recognition of the war crimes committed by Hamas and calling for the release of the remaining hostages.

Comments from UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict: “There was clear and convincing information that sexual violence, including rape, sexualized torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment was committed against hostages. There is reasonable ground to believe it is ongoing. We saw a catalog of the most extreme and inhumane forms of torture and other horrors. We viewed 5,000 photographic images and some 50 hours of footage of the attacks. Rape and gang rape occurred at at least three locations: the Supernova music festival site, Kibbutz Re’im and along the nearby Route 232. In most instances, the victims were first subjected to rape and then killed, noting two incidents pointing to the rape of women’s corpses. There was a recurring pattern at the music festival of victims found fully or partially undressed, bound and shot.”

Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, responded to the report: “It has been 150 days since Hamas invaded Israel and kidnapped over 250 civilians. The female hostages kidnapped and held by Hamas were, and likely continue to be, subjected to sexual violence, torture and abuse. The UN must take greater action to condemn Hamas for weaponizing sexual violence, to ensure the immediate release of the hostages and to hold Hamas accountable for these war crimes. It is outrageous to hear UN officials suggest the Commission of Inquiry – a body comprised of individuals with a clear track record of antisemitism and anti-Israel bias – should be the agency to conduct a formal investigation into these crimes.”

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This content is developed by The Focus Project in partnership with Mercaz USA. The Focus Project distributes weekly news and talking points on timely issues concerning Israel and the Jewish people, including antisemitism, anti-Zionism and the delegitimization of Israel. It represents a consensus view across a spectrum of major American Jewish organizations. Mercaz USA recognizes and respects the diversity of views on these issues among its readers and the community at large.

The Focus Project develops and distributes news, background, history and weekly talking points on timely issues to inform individuals and organizations about issues affecting the American Jewish community and Israel, and help readers speak with more consistency and clarity. The editions also provide potential responses for addressing incidents of antisemitism and anti-Zionism. With input from a spectrum of major American Jewish organizations, we focus on that which unites us, rising above political and individual agendas.
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