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From arson to death threats: The 10 worst acts of campus antisemitism in 2023

Nearly 3 in 4 Jewish students witnessed or experienced hostility

This year, Jewish and Israeli college students faced down some of the most hostile environments on campus in recent memory, with dozens of incidents of extreme antisemitism — that sometimes got physical — chronicled on the pages of The College Fix in 2023.

Antisemitism always has been a problem at universities, but in early 2023, a College Fix report highlighted research showing a sharp rise in antisemitism at American colleges in the past five years.

Then the Oct. 7 terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel stirred up even more hatred toward Jews and those who support the country of Israel. A recent Anti-Defamation League survey found nearly three in four Jewish students have experienced or witnessed antisemitism on campus this year.

Our reports show Jewish students have been targets of arson and assault, and Jewish leaders have been canceled for no other reason than their ethnicity. Others have had to lock themselves in rooms and listen to threats chanted by pro-Palestinian and pro-Hamas protesters. There have even been death threats.

Here, in no particular order, are 10 of the worst cases reported on by The College Fix this year:

Jewish student’s door set on fire in wake of Hamas attack
Just three days after the Hamas attack, a Jewish student at Drexel University in Philadelphia was targeted in an apparent antisemitic incident. An unknown assailant lit the student’s dorm room door on fire. Later, the student said she believed she was targeted because of her outspoken support of Israel.

Concordia students attack table recognizing Israeli hostages
The incident, caught on video, was indicative of the hostile responses that students, Jewish and otherwise, met with on campuses across North America after Oct. 7. In this case, at Concordia University in Canada, pro-Palestinian student protesters “verbally and physically accosted” Jewish students who set up a table to raise awareness about the hostages held by Hamas terrorists.

Pro-Palestinian activists barricade Jewish students in library, pound on doors
“Terrorizing Jewish students” is how one individual described the situation in which Jewish students locked themselves into The Cooper Union college library to protect themselves from protesters. A similar incident was reported a few weeks later at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Cornell student charged with threatening to slaughter Jewish students
Many Jewish students and faculty have felt threatened by protesters’ pro-Palestinian chants, resulting in debates about free speech. But some cases, such as this one at Cornell University, prompted immediate action by law enforcement. Patrick Dai, a junior, was arrested after allegedly threatening to shoot Jewish students and slit their throats.

Police protect Jewish students at Arizona State meeting after rocks thrown
In mid-November, university police escorted Jewish students from a student government event after pro-Palestinian protesters threw rocks at their meeting from outside.

‘Holocaust 2.0’ chalked at U. Maryland during pro-Palestinian protest
UMD Students for Justice in Palestine, which organized the protest, did not take credit for the message. But its leaders did defend it, arguing that it “acts as a comparison to the terrible war crimes that occurred during the Holocaust and how genocide is now occurring before our eyes.”

‘Hitler was right,’ ‘gas the Jews,’ ‘death to kikes’: Messages seen at NYU
Three Jewish students accused New York University of failing to protect them from antisemitism in a new lawsuit. Among other things, their case cites “genocidal chants” and other disturbing messages seen on campus.

UC Berkeley cancels liberal Jewish politician for supporting Israel
Students at the University of California Berkeley got a liberal politician’s environmental talk canceled just because he is Jewish and supports Israel. Oakland City Councilman Dan Kalb’s presentation had nothing to do with the Middle Eastern conflict either.

Jewish student’s door vandalized with Hitler drawing, latest in series of incidents at Stanford
Drawings resembling Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, swastikas, the letters KKK, and other hateful messages were found on a student’s door and in bathrooms at the university.

Calling for ‘genocide of Jews’ not always ‘bullying’: elite college presidents
Perhaps the most publicized, three Ivy League presidents were met with massive backlash after their weak responses and double standards regarding antisemitism during a U.S. House hearing. Liz Magill, then president of the University of Pennsylvania, later resigned.

MORE: Dozens of Brown University students arrested, booked for anti-Israel sit-in

IMAGE: Jerusalem U/YouTube

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.