A recent survey conducted at some of the top US institutions of higher education demonstrates that academic boycotts of Israel are not favored by most students.
A poll conducted by Brandeis University’s Steinhardt Social Research Institute reveals that less than 15 percent of non-Jewish students support boycotts of academic institutions or scholars from Israel. The poll was done via email with students from Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan, and Brandeis.
According to the poll, Jewish students reported that they “are rarely exposed to anti-Semitism on campus” and “do not think their campus is hostile to Jews.” Jewish students did, however, respond that they “are exposed to hostile remarks toward Israel on campus.”
Notwithstanding the offensive remarks, the majority of students “disagree[d] that there is a hostile environment toward Israel on campus,” with Michigan diverging from this position. At Michigan, “just over half of Jewish students agreed to an extent that the school had a hostile environment toward Israel.”
Contrary to the picture painted by proponents of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, support for BDS is “rare,” with backing for an academic boycott of Israel “virtually nonexistent among Jewish students” and “rare among non-Jewish students.”
In short, the poll found that “Israel and Jews are not a top concern for students,” and that “Jewish students feel safe and that they belong on campus.”
While such findings are welcomed by Jewish groups and pro-Israel activists, it should be noted that Jews make up greater than 10 percent of the undergraduate student body at all of the polled institutions.