Walter G. Wasser

Campus Denial of American Jewish Rights


In recent years, there has been a significant increase in anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses across the United States. This phenomenon is not only alarming due to its immediate impact on Jewish students but also because it reflects deeper societal issues that are currently affecting American society. This essay examines the historical context of student protests in America, compares current anti-Semitic incidents to past movements, and discusses the broader national and international implications of these events.

Historical Context of Student Protests in America

Student protests have been a fixture on U.S. college campuses since at least the 1960s. Traditionally, these protests have focused on major political and social issues, ranging from opposition to the Vietnam War to advocacy for civil rights. Such movements have generally sought to challenge perceived injustices perpetrated by or through the support of American policies. For example, the Vietnam War protests were fueled by opposition to compulsory draft and the war’s moral implications, while the civil rights protests aimed to secure equal rights under the law for African Americans.

The Shift in Nature of Campus Protests

Unlike the protests of the 1960s and 1970s, which were directly related to U.S. government actions and policies, the recent wave of incidents on campuses primarily targets Jewish students and their perceived association with Israel. This shift marks a troubling evolution from protests rooted in demands for an expansion of rights or correction of injustices, to movements characterized by their exclusionary and often hateful rhetoric.

Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israel Sentiment

The current campus protests often conflate Jewish identity with support for Israeli policies, leading to generalized attacks against Jewish students. Such incidents have included harassment, discrimination, and even physical assaults. These actions are frequently justified by protestors under the guise of anti-Zionism, which they distinguish from anti-Semitism. However, the targeting of individuals based on their identity or perceived political affiliations crosses into outright discrimination and hate speech.

Comparisons to Historical Movements

When compared to the civil rights movement or Vietnam War protests, the present-day campus incidents are distinct in several troubling ways. Firstly, they lack a direct connection to U.S. policies, focusing instead on an international issue — the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — which does not directly involve the protesters as American citizens. Secondly, the protests are not aimed at expanding rights for a disadvantaged group but rather at limiting the rights and safe participation of Jewish students in campus life.

International and Political Implications

These campus incidents are not isolated events but are linked to larger geopolitical and social movements. Some groups involved in organizing these protests have connections to international organizations with anti-Semitic ideologies. Furthermore, the rhetoric used in campus protests often mirrors propaganda that seeks to delegitimize the state of Israel and, by extension, to marginalize Jewish voices and presence globally.

The Role of Social Media and Modern Communication

The proliferation of anti-Semitic incidents on campuses is facilitated by the widespread use of social media, which helps to organize, recruit, and spread misinformation rapidly. Social media platforms have enabled the quick formation of large and highly mobilized networks that can exert considerable influence on public opinion and campus policies.

Institutional Responses and Their Consequences

The responses of university administrations and government bodies to these anti-Semitic incidents have varied widely, ranging from strong condemnation and action to apparent indifference or tacit acceptance. In some cases, the lack of a decisive response has been perceived as an endorsement of the protestors’ actions, further emboldening discriminatory practices and contributing to a hostile environment for Jewish students.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

The rise of anti-Semitic incidents on campuses poses significant legal and ethical challenges. Universities must balance the protection of free speech with the enforcement of anti-discrimination laws and policies. Additionally, they face the difficult task of nurturing an inclusive educational environment while addressing hate speech and ensuring the safety of all students.

Future Outlook and the Need for Action

To address the rise of anti-Semitic incidents on campuses effectively, a multi-faceted approach is necessary. This should include educational initiatives to promote understanding and tolerance, stronger institutional policies against discrimination, and a reevaluation of how hate speech and related activities are treated under campus codes of conduct. Furthermore, there is a need for a broader societal acknowledgment of this issue and a commitment to combating anti-Semitism in all forms.


The increase in anti-Semitic incidents on U.S. college campuses is a disturbing trend that reflects broader societal issues and challenges. These events differ significantly from past student protests in their intent, implications, and impact. Addressing these incidents requires not only immediate actions by universities and legal bodies but also a comprehensive societal response to ensure that campuses remain spaces for safe and constructive dialogue. As America grapples with these issues, the core values of democracy, tolerance, and justice for all must be upheld to prevent the further erosion of civil discourse and rights.




Adapted from: Glick, C. (2024). The Denial of American Jewish Rights on Campus. In-Focus. JNS TV. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from

About the Author
The author is a specialist in nephrology and internal medicine and lives with his wife and family in Jerusalem.