Antisemitism Resurgent: Manifestations of Antisemitism in the 21st Century

The Left

In a 1973 piece for the American Jewish Congress, Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban accused “the new left” of responsibility for a “new antisemitism” that accepts “the right to establish and maintain an independent national sovereign state is the prerogative of all nations, so long as they happen not to be Jewish.”*Congress Bi-weekly, American Jewish Congress, Vol. 40, Issues 2-14, 1973, p. xxv.x French President Emmanuel Macron labeled anti-Zionism as “a reinvention of anti-Semitism” during a July 2017 commemoration of the Nazi roundup of Jews in France.*Raphael Ahren,“Macron denounces anti-Zionism as a new form of anti-Semitism,” Times of Israel, July 16, 2017, This “new” antisemitism has come to represent modern left-wing antisemitism, which has branded the Jewish nation-state a symbol of colonialism and oppression.

While the far right’s antisemitism is overt and thus easy to identify and condemn, the left and far left have embraced antisemitism by blurring the line between anti-Zionism and antisemitism. The antisemitism of the far left holds that Zionists and Israel, the Jewish nation-state, symbolize colonialism and oppression. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) specifically notes that criticism of Israel is not in itself antisemitic, but specifically targeting Israel with standards that are not universally applied, comparing Israeli actions to those of the Nazis, holding Jews collectively responsible for Israeli government policies, and claiming Israel’s very existence is racist are all manifestations of antisemitism.*“Working Definition of Anti-Semitism,” International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, accessed October 29, 2019,

Israel, Social Justice, and Oppression

Beth Hillel Temple in Kenosha, Wisconsin, is a liberal Reform synagogue whose rabbi has spoken out against white privilege and police brutality. In June 2020, the synagogue signed onto an interfaith letter supporting peaceful protest and condemning societal racism. Despite embracing values promoted on the liberal left, the synagogue fell victim to left-wing attack that August when vandals targeted the Jewish house of worship as a representative of Israeli policies by graffitiing “Free Palestine” on the building.*Ben Sales, “Kenosha’s rabbi on graffiti at her synagogue: ‘What’s happened these last few days is not about us,’” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, August 27, 2020,

Left-wing antisemitism is often not as overt as it is on the far right, where neo-Nazi groups outwardly display a hatred of Jews. Modern left-wing antisemitism is, oddly enough, largely driven by a quest for social justice. Traditionally, the Jewish community has been drawn to left-wing ideology and causes because of the idea of tikkun olam—the concept of repairing the world. Nonetheless, the left has mainstreamed strands of antisemitism through its embrace of social justice causes. Israel—and its supporters—has become a favored target among the far left because of its control of lands Palestinians claim for their own state. While there is certainly space for legitimate criticism of Israeli policies, the IHRA recognizes the delegitimization of the state itself as a form of antisemitism. The Working Definition of Antisemitism specifically classifies the following behaviors regarding Israel as examples of antisemitism:

  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.*“Working Definition of Antisemitism,” International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, accessed October 29, 2019,

A debate has since emerged over whether the IHRA definition threatens legitimate criticism of Israel. In April 2021, some 200 academics signed on to the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (JDA), which declares: “Antisemitism is discrimination, prejudice, hostility or violence against Jews as Jews (or Jewish institutions as Jewish).”*The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism, homepage, accessed May 11, 2021, The JDA submits that “while antisemitism has certain distinctive features, the fight against it is inseparable from the overall fight against all forms of … discrimination.”*The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism, homepage, accessed May 11, 2021, The JDA recognizes that blaming all Jews for the actions of the Jewish state, denying the right of Jews to live in Israel, and assuming dual loyalty of non-Israeli Jews to Israel are all antisemitic, but legitimizes specific criticism and boycotts of Israel, as well as seeking alternative solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would limit or eliminate the state’s Jewish character.*The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism, homepage, accessed May 11, 2021, The definition has been welcomed by some scholars and Israel advocates while condemned by others. Evyatar Friesel, professor emeritus of modern Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, argued the JDA is “fundamentally biased” and paints Israel as the aggressor in the Middle East.*Evyatar Friesel, “The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism and its Jewish supporters,” Jewish News Syndicate, May 12, 2021, Dave Rich, director of policy for the United Kingdom’s Community Security Trust, criticized the JDA for limiting its definition to hatred of “Jews as Jews,” thereby excusing blatantly antisemitic language and tropes that do not specifically reference the target’s Jewishness.*Dave Rich, “The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism: A Flawed Definition That Risks Setting Back Efforts to Tackle Antisemitism,” Community Security Trust, April 1, 2021,

A popular mantra on the left is that it rejects Zionism and the State of Israel, not Jews as a whole. Left-wing groups such as Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition—which otherwise promotes ideals that liberal Jews would likely would find themselves in agreement with—have furthered the de-legitimization of the State of Israel by painting it as racist and colonialist.*“Protest Israeli War Crimes and Netanyahu’s Speech to a Joint Session of Congress Tuesday, March 3 at the U.S. Capitol Building,” ANSWER Coalition, February 4, 2015,; “An apartheid state: Israel makes it official,” ANSWER Coalition, July 20, 2018, The anti-Israel website Electronic Intifada, for example, has accused “Israel and its lobby groups” of trying to “inoculate Israel against criticism by obscuring the line between anti-Jewish bigotry, on the one hand, and criticism of Israel and its state ideology Zionism, on the other.*Ali Abunimah, “Chicago Dyke March accuser A Wider Bridge has record of fabrications,” Electronic Intifada, June 26, 2017, But the reality is that otherwise left-leaning Jews are forced to separate their Jewish identities from their liberal values and choose between the false dichotomy of being liberal or being Zionist. Just as the social justice-embracing Beth Hillel Temple was targeted as a representative of the Jewish state, left-wing antisemitism equates even modest affiliation with Israel with support for the oppression of the Palestinians.

In June 2017, for example, organizers of the Dyke March in Chicago told Jewish would-be participants that they were forbidden from carrying the Jewish Pride flag—a Star of David against a rainbow backdrop—because it too closely resembled the Israeli flag and would upset other marchers.*Peter Holley, “Jewish marchers say they were kicked out of a rally for inclusiveness because of their beliefs,” Washington Post, June 26, 2017, Later that month, the Chicago Dyke March posted a statement on Facebook pledging its “undying solidarity with Palestine and our Palestinian comrades.”*Chicago Dyke March, Facebook post, June 27, 2017,

In October 2021, a proposed voting rights rally was enveloped in controversy after one of the participating organizations issued statements condemning the participation of pro-Israel Jewish organizations. The Freedom to Vote rally was organized by Declaration for American Democracy, a coalition of 230 faith-based and secular groups focused on voting reform. Sunrise DC, the Washington, D.C., branch of youth-led climate organization Sunrise Movement, issued a statement declining a speaking spot at the rally because of the participation of the National Council of Jewish Women, the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. Sunrise DC called for their ejection from the rally as they “are all in alignment with and in support of the Zionism and the State of Israel,” and “Zionism is incompatible with statehood and political sovereignty.”*Sunrise DC, Twitter post, October 20, 2021, 5:08 p.m., Sunrise DC stated, “Given our commitment to racial justice, self-governance and indigenous sovereignty, we oppose Zionism and any state that enforces its ideology.”*Sunrise DC, Twitter post, October 20, 2021, 5:08 p.m., After condemnation from Jewish groups as well as the national Sunrise Movement, Sunrise DC issued an apology and said it understood why its initial statement had been seen as antisemitic. However, the group also emphasized its continuing commitment to “stand against Zionism, antisemitism, anti-Palestinian racism, and all other forms of oppression.”*Sunrise DC, Twitter post, October 24, 2021, 10:08 p.m.,; Ron Kampeas, “Sunrise movement: DC chapter’s singling out of Jewish groups is ‘antisemitic and unacceptable,’” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, October 22, 2021, The D.C. chapter of the Black Lives Matter organization praised Sunrise DC’s stance in a since-deleted tweet that the original statement “wasn’t antisemitic, no matter how many times oppressors want to repeat it.”*Ron Kampeas, “Sunrise movement: DC chapter’s singling out of Jewish groups is ‘antisemitic and unacceptable,’” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, October 22, 2021,

This forced separation of Zionist and non-Zionist Jews has obvious historical parallels. European Jews who abandoned their religious practices and embraced secularism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were granted access to political, economic, and social circles, while those who clung to tradition remained outsiders. This modern form of antisemitism is again creating a distinction between “good Jews” and “bad Jews.” Support for Israel becomes a litmus test for inclusion in liberal causes that otherwise have nothing to do with Israel.

This devotion to social justice has given rise to certain celebrities on the left who promote antisemitism as they champion just causes. Some left-wing groups have become bedfellows with blatantly antisemitic organizations out of a sense of shared oppression. The Women’s March, for example, has had to issue multiple explanations of its leadership’s affiliation with the Nation of Islam and its leader, Louis Farrakhan, who has made numerous vicious antisemitic statements over the course of several decades. On February 25, 2018, Women’s March co-president Tamika Mallory attended the Nation of Islam’s annual Saviour’s Day conference, during which Farrakhan announced “the powerful Jews are my enemy” and declared Jews to be false Jews belonging to the “synagogue of Satan” who have wrought destruction “everywhere they have gone.”*Tamika Mallory, Instagram post, March 10, 2018,; “Saviour’s Day 2018,” Nation of Islam, February 2018,

Mallory had previously posted a photo of herself alongside Farrakhan in May 2017 and referred to him as “the GOAT”—Greatest Of All Time.*Tamika Mallory, Instagram post, May 11, 2017, Following her appearance at the Saviour’s Day event, just three months after Farrakhan declared that he’s not an antisemite but an “anti-termite,” Mallory refused to condemn Farrakhan’s record of antisemitic statements.*Allie Yang, “Women's March co-president Tamika Mallory discusses controversial relationship with Louis Farrakhan,” ABC News, January 14, 2019, The Women’s March released a statement in March 2018 that Farrakhan’s statements about “Jewish, queer, and trans people are not aligned with the Women’s March Unity Principles, which were created by women of color leaders and are grounded in Kingian Nonviolence.” The statement went on to repeat the organization’s commitment to intersectionality—the idea that various forms of oppression, such as racism, homophobia, and antisemitism, are connected—and the organization’s support for Mallory.*Debra Nussbaum Cohen,“Women’s March renounces Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism, but supports a leader who embraced him,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, March 6, 2018,

Tamika MalloryTamika Mallory Twitter

Women’s March co-president Linda Sarsour defended Mallory in a Facebook post, lamenting that a “strong, bold, unapologetic, committed Black woman who risks her life every day to speak truth to power and organize and mobilize movements” is being “questioned, berated and abused.”*Linda Sarsour, Facebook post, March 2, 2018, The following month, Mallory attacked the ADL for “constantly attacking black and brown people” and decried the group’s involvement in anti-bias training with Starbucks.*Tamika Mallory, Twitter post, April 17, 2018, 7:29 p.m., In October 2018, just days after the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh, actress Alyssa Milano, who had previously spoken at the 2017 Women’s March, announced she was withdrawing her support for the movement while Mallory and Sarsour remained involved because of their ties to Farrakhan.*Ariel Sobel, “Why #MeToo Activist Alyssa Milano Will Not Speak at Next Women’s March,” Advocate, October 30, 2018, Sarsour issued an apology to Jewish members of the Women’s March in November 2018.*Ben Sales, “Linda Sarsour apologizes to Jewish members of the Women’s March,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, November 20, 2018, In September 2019, Women’s March founders Mallory, Sarsour, and Bob Bland resigned amid continuing accusations of antisemitism and their ongoing relationship with the Nation of Islam.*“‘Women’s March’ board members resign amid accusations of anti-Semitism,” Yahoo News, September 16, 2019,

This form of left-wing antisemitism is increasingly dangerous because it has seeped into the culture of the political left, which makes it both less transparent and more acceptable to those who deeply care about the otherwise just causes being promoted. For example, U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar deployed overt antisemitic canards while lambasting the influence of political lobbies—arguments she certainly could have made without allusions to Jewish power and money controlling the government. In calling for an economic and cultural boycott of Israel, U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan likened boycotting Israel to boycotting Nazi Germany, comparing the Jewish nation-state to the Nazi regime that had attempted to destroy the Jews.*Stuart Winer and staff, “Rep. Tlaib recalls boycotts against Nazi Germany to defend right to snub Israel,” Times of Israel, July 25, 2019, Piotr Cywiński, director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, clarified the issue for a Washington Post columnist in August 2019, saying that hatred of Israel is just a mask for hatred of Jews.*Marc A. Thiessen, “The rise of anti-Semitism on the left,” Washington Post, August 13, 2019,

The intersection of anti-Zionism and antisemitism on the left has further expanded as pro-Palestinian advocates have increasingly aligned themselves with the left while promoting pro-Palestinianism and anti-Zionism as a social justice cause. These groups have increasingly sought to align themselves with ideologies sympathetic to perceived injustices stemming from occupation, resulting in the adoption of antisemitic positions among the left and far left. As with Wisconsin’s Beth Hillel Temple, this infusion of anti-Zionism into the left has led to targeting Jewish people in general as a response to the actions and injustices—real and perceived—of the Jewish State of Israel.

In June 2022, the Boston, Massachusetts-based pro-Palestinian website the Mapping Project unveiled a map of the locations of “Zionist leaders and powerhouse NGOs” in Massachusetts. The website says its goal is to expose “local institutional support for the colonization of Palestine” and reveal how support for Zionist causes links to various “other harms” in society. The website clearly states its goal is “to reveal the local entities and networks that enact devastation, so we can dismantle them. Every entity has an address, every network can be disrupted.”*Mapping Project, accessed June 14, 2022, As of June 14, 2022, the site mapped 483 entities in the Boston area, including universities such as Boston College and Harvard, the Boston police, and companies such as Microsoft, Intel, and Google that have locations in the New England area. It also lists local chapters of the Anti-Defamation League, AIPAC, and the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as Jewish schools, Jewish youth programs for teens and disabled children, and synagogue umbrella councils. The website published addresses and employee names for these organizations along with their call to “dismantle” all of the listed organizations because of their alleged connections to Israel.*Mapping Project, accessed June 14, 2022, The Mapping Project claims to reject the equivalence of Zionism with Jews and it accuses Jewish organizations on its list of marginalizing “anti-colonial and anti-zionist Jews” by “falsely equating Jewishness with zionism – and by pretending it can speak on behalf of all Jews in support for the settler-colony known as ‘Israel’….”*“Synagogue Council of Massachusetts,” Mapping Project, accessed June 14, 2022, However, the website’s inclusion of children’s programs, schools, synagogues, newspapers, and other Jewish organizations is a demonstration that, contrary to its protestations, the Mapping Project does indeed hold all Jews responsible for the Israeli government. Publishing the addresses of these organizations while stating its goal is to see them dismantled is clear incitement against these Jewish and non-Jewish organizations. Both of Massachusetts’ senators and four of its Democratic U.S. representatives condemned the Mapping Project as “dangerous and irresponsible” for targeting and endangering the safety of Jewish institutions.*Andrew Lapin, “Massachusetts Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren and Ayanna Pressley, condemn pro-Palestinian project mapping Boston Jewish groups,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, June 10, 2022,

The Mapping Project’s goals align with those of the Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks a total cultural, academic, and economic boycott of the state of Israel. BDS began as a Palestinian movement in 2005 inspired by the anti-apartheid boycotts of the 1980s. The campaign has since organized and spread around the world.*“What is BDS?,” BDS Movement, accessed June 14, 2022, While BDS claims it is a social justice movement to pressure Israel into freeing Palestine, the movement is accused of going beyond seeking independence for the Palestinians by also seeking the eradication of Israel. The Palestinian Authority (PA) and segments of the Palestinian population have joined calls for economic boycotts of Israeli settlements and products in the West Bank but drawn a line at calling for a total economic boycott of Israel, as BDS does. The reasons given are that a total economic blockade of Israel would also negatively impact Palestinian life. During a December 2013 trip to South Africa for a Nelson Mandela memorial, PA President Mahmoud Abbas clearly stated, “No, we do not support the boycott of Israel. But we ask everyone to boycott the products of the settlements.”*Yoel Goldman, “Abbas: Don’t boycott Israel,” Times of Israel, December 13, 2013, Palestinian shopkeepers have noted that because the West Bank and Gaza Strip have limited open borders, they are reliant on certain Israeli goods that cannot be produced domestically or imported from Jordan or Egypt. Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and a co-founder of the BDS movement, has said Palestinians will have to pay a price to achieve freedom.*Anna Kokko, “For ordinary Palestinians, full support of BDS is impossible,” Al Bawaba, June 25, 2015,

BDS’s objective of damaging Israel at the expense of the Palestinians’ quality of life suggests its goal is more about damaging Israel than helping the Palestinians, which has resulted in global accusations BDS is an antisemitic campaign to delegitimize and demonize the Jewish state. The BDS campaign has claimed some victories, notably the 2021 decision by ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s to not renew its contract with its Israeli distributor based in the West Bank after more than 30 years. According to Ben & Jerry’s independent board of directors, the company’s ice cream would no longer be sold in the Palestinian territories, though it would still be sold in Israel itself through an unannounced “different arrangement.”*“Ben & Jerry’s Will End Sales of Our Ice Cream in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” Ben & Jerry’s, July 19, 2021, In a New York Times op-ed, company founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield stated the move was a rejection of Israeli policy, not of Israel itself.*Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, “We’re Ben and Jerry. Men of Ice Cream, Men of Principle.,” New York Times, July 28, 2021, Nonetheless, BDS activists claimed the move as a victory.*Mark Hage, “We got Ben & Jerry’s to stop selling in Israeli settlements. Here’s how we did it,” Guardian (London), August 5, 2021, The move prompted several U.S. state funds to divest from Ben & Jerry’s parent company Unilever.*Nick Kostov, “State Funds Drop Unilever After Ben & Jerry’s Israel Clash,” Wall Street Journal, September 17, 2021, Ben & Jerry’s independent board did not consult with Unilever prior to its decision, which sparked further controversy as Unilever’s leadership sought to reaffirm its own relationship with Israel. Further, the original Ben & Jerry’s statement made no mention of continuing sales in Israel, which Ben & Jerry’s board accused Unilever of adding in against the board’s wishes.*Olivia Solon, “Ben & Jerry’s withdraws sales from Israeli settlements but clashes with parent company Unilever,” CNBC, July 19, 2021,

Pro-Israel activists have sought to combat BDS by lobbying for laws labeling the movement as antisemitic and discriminatory. While anti-BDS legislation has largely stalled at the federal level, as of May 2021 35 states had passed anti-BDS legislation and widely condemning the movement for antisemitism.*Aila Slisco, “Companies Boycotting Israel Can't Do Business With These U.S. States,” Newsweek, May 19, 2021, A 2015 Tennessee General Assembly resolution called BDS “one of the main vehicles for spreading anti-Semitism and advocating the elimination of the Jewish state.”*Jonathan Molina, “TENNESSEE FIRST, THEN INDIANA CONDEMN BDS AS ANTI-SEMITIC MOVEMENT,” Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, n.d.,; Aila Slisco, “Companies Boycotting Israel Can't Do Business With These U.S. States,” Newsweek, May 19, 2021, Soon after, the Indiana General Assembly also condemned BDS “for promoting a climate of hatred, intimidation, intolerance and violence against Jews.”*Jonathan Molina, “TENNESSEE FIRST, THEN INDIANA CONDEMN BDS AS ANTI-SEMITIC MOVEMENT,” Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, n.d., In turn, BDS advocates have argued such legislation violates the right to free speech, which has led to lawsuits and courts striking down some anti-BDS legislation.*Kate Ruane, “Congress, Laws Suppressing Boycotts of Israel Are Unconstitutional. Sincerely, Three Federal Courts.,” American Civil Liberties Union, May 9, 2019, While the First Amendment’s free speech protections may shield BDS, the actions of groups like the Mapping Project squarely fit into the categorizations of antisemitism outlined in the IHRA definition.

Antisemitism on Campus

Antisemitism on the university level has taken on a new dimension in the twenty-first century as Jewish students have found themselves targeted not because of their religion specifically, but because of links—whether real or only perceived—to the Jewish State of Israel. A 2005 report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found that the American campus had become increasingly hostile to Jewish students as antisemitism “is often cloaked as criticism of Israel.”*“Campus Anti-Semitism,” U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, November 18, 2005, 1, The commission found evidence that federally funded ideologically biased campus programs were spurring some antisemitic incidents on campus.*“Campus Anti-Semitism,” U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, November 18, 2005, 1, According to the ADL, the American university has “emerged as one of the major sites for the expression and dissemination of” antisemitism.*“Schooled in Hate: Anti-Semitism on Campus,” Anti-Defamation League, accessed November 5, 2020, While only 20 percent of respondents in the American Jewish Committee’s 2019 Survey of American Jews on Anti-Semitic Attitudes said that they experienced antisemitism on campus within the past five years, 36 percent responded that campuses had become more hostile to pro-Israel students since the year before.*“AJC 2019 Survey of American Jews on Anti-Semitic Attitudes,” American Jewish Committee, November 2019, A July 2020 report by the U.S. nonprofit Amcha Initiative noted a decrease in traditional antisemitism on campus but recorded increases in the denigration, suppression, and exclusion of Jewish students based on attitudes toward Israel.*“Understanding Campus Antisemitism in 2019 And Its Lessons for Pandemic and Post-Pandemic U.S. Campuses,” Amcha Initiative, July 2020,

The delegitimization of Israel has resulted in the harassment of and even violence against Jewish students on college campuses across the United States by left-wing groups that claim to pursue social justice and have led harassment campaigns against Jewish students regardless of their support for Israel. In April 2019, for example, members of the Emory University chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) posted fake eviction notices on the doors of Jewish students in Emory’s residence halls and off-campus housing. The notices were a protest against Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes. Emory Jewish groups stated that they did not have “explicit evidence” that the notices specifically singled out Jewish students, but it appears that the sole qualification for receiving a notice was to be identifiably Jewish.*Lee Brown, “‘Eviction’ notices placed on doors of Jewish students at Emory University,” New York Post, April 5, 2019, Emory’s Office of Residence and Housing Approval reportedly approved the SJP activity.*Jeremy Sharon, “Pro-Palestinian Activists Post Eviction Notices on Jewish Students’ Doors,” Jerusalem Post, April 4, 2019, Following a public outcry against Emory SJP, the group called for a boycott of Jewish groups on campus, including Hillel and Chabad, which they accused of leading a smear campaign against the group.*Dave Schechter, “Emory Pro-Palestinian Students Call to Boycott Jewish Organizations,” Atlanta Jewish Times, April 8, 2019, SJP has posted similar notices at New York University, Harvard, Florida Atlantic University, and others.*“Jews in NYU dorm served ‘eviction notices,’” Times of Israel, April 25, 2014,


On October 7, 2023, Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, killing at least 1,200 people and taking more than 240 hostages into the Gaza Strip. In response, Israel declared war on Hamas and launched a ground invasion of Gaza.* SJP immediately took an adversarial position toward Israel by calling the October 7 attack a “a historic win for the Palestinian resistance” breaking “the artificial barriers of the Zionist entity, taking with it the facade of an impenetrable settler colony and reminding each of us that total return and liberation to Palestine is near.”* SJP called on its 200 chapters across North America to “join the call for mass mobilization” on October 12.* In response, an October 13 letter signed by almost 200 Jewish and non-Jewish student groups, local Jewish community organizations, state lawmakers, and almost 30 national Jewish organizations demanded universities withdraw recognition of and funding for SJP. The letter demanded “moral accountability and official punishment for SJP and its chapters for their campaign to glorify the Hamas attacks on Israel of October 7.”*

While SJP previously used freedom of speech to shield its activities, state governments and universities saw SJP’s open support of the October 7 attack as cause to act against the student group. On October 24, the State University System of Florida and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis ordered state universities to dismantle the SJP network on public university campuses. The State University System cited SJP’s “harmful support for terrorist groups.”* On November 6, Brandeis University became the first private university to ban SJP from campus. Brandeis cited SJP’s support for Hamas, which is not protected by the university’s free-speech principles because Hamas is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization. According to a university letter sent to SJP, “Students who choose to engage in conduct in support of Hamas, or engage in conduct that harasses or threatens violence, whether individually or through organized activity, will be considered to be in violation of the University’s student code of conduct.”* On November 10, Columbia University suspended its chapters of SJP and the leftwing Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). According to the university, the two groups “repeatedly violated University policies related to holding campus events.”* The suspension came after SJP held a nine-hour sit-in at the Columbia School of Social Work on November 8 and SJP and JVP jointly held a “die-in” on campus the following day. During the “die-in,” the groups issued demands such as ending Columbia’s dual-degree program with Tel Aviv University. Columbia accused SJP of disrupting classes and campus life with its November 8 sit-in. The university also cited “threatening rhetoric and intimidation” by the groups.*

SJP’s actions deliberately targeted Jewish students, regardless of their support for Israel. On other campuses, Israeli and Jewish students have reported harassment by SJP and similar groups. A 2012 ADL report documented a decade’s worth of antisemitism at the University of California, Irvine, which the ADL primarily blamed on the Muslim Student Union (MSU). For example, in May 2007, the MSU organized a Holocaust Memorial Week, featuring a speaker who blamed Jewish bankers for the slave trade.*“Anti-Semitism at UC Irvine,” Anti-Defamation League, 2012,

Campus leftists have vociferously rejected any relationship between antisemitism and anti-Zionism. These student groups deny they are antisemitic, instead arguing they are combating the oppressive nature of modern Zionism. For example, the student government at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign passed a resolution in October 2019 distinguishing between anti-Zionism and antisemitism.*Josefin Dolsten, “University of Illinois student government passes resolution saying anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are different,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, October 28, 2019, Yet the actions of these campus groups collectively hold all Jews responsible for the actions of the Israeli government.

The Far Left

While the far right has been largely responsible for recent violent antisemitism in the United States, the far left has also been responsible for promoting antisemitic agendas, if not directly driving violence. Antifa and other far-left activists have been linked to violence on university campuses during protests against visiting Israeli officials and in support of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, which seeks a cultural and economic boycott of the state.*Ilanit Chernick, “Activists get violent during Reservists on Duty event at York University,” Jerusalem Post, November 28, 2019,

A December 2019 report by and Zachor Legal Institute concluded that BDS “directly drives anti-Semitism and radicalizes public discourse in Western democracies.”*Zachor Legal Institute and, “The New Anti-Semites,”, December 16, 2019,; Talia Kaplan, “Anti-Semitism in US linked to BDS movement, new NGO-backed report finds,” Fox News, December 16, 2019, Its authors also found an overlap between BDS and far-right rhetoric, which they deemed “an increasingly public intellectual and philosophical alliance between the BDS movement and far-right groups.”*Talia Kaplan, “Anti-Semitism in US linked to BDS movement, new NGO-backed report finds,” Fox News, December 16, 2019,

While those on the far-left have used antisemitic rhetoric and tactics, antisemitism is not universal to these movements. Unlike far-right groups, far-left movements lack well-established hierarchies and organizational structures, which means there are also no specific unifying philosophies or tactics. One group of antifa activists may act fundamentally differently from another.

Jews who themselves identify as antifa deny that the movement is inherently antisemitic. Daniel Sieradski, who has been called “Antifa’s most prominent Jew,” told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) in 2017 that the spirit of antifa is “to challenge racists when they come into your community and try to incite hatred and violence.”*Sam Kestenbaum, “‘Antifa’s Most Prominent Jew’ Booted From Twitter,” Forward, June 9, 2017,; Ben Sales, “What you need to know about antifa, the group that fought white supremacists in Charlottesville,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, August 16, 2017, Sieradski told JTA that Jews are welcomed in antifa because antifa is fighting Nazis and antisemitism “is the prime ideological viewpoint of Nazis.”*Ben Sales, “What you need to know about antifa, the group that fought white supremacists in Charlottesville,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, August 16, 2017,

Specific Jewish antifa groups have also formed. In January 2019, a group called Jewish Antifascist Action vandalized a plaque in New York City’s Canyon of Heroes honoring World War I French general Philippe Petain. Petain went on to lead France’s Vichy regime and oversaw the deportation of more than 75,000 French Jews to Nazi concentration camps.*Aiden Pink, “Jewish Antifa Group Vandalizes Nazi Collaborator Plaque,” Forward, January 30, 2019, The Canadian Jewish News (CJN) interviewed three members about antifa views on Jews and Israel, and each responded differently. The commonality was that all three felt safe and welcome as Jews within the antifa movement. Views on Israel varied, with some calling it fascist and others saying it’s not. One Jewish antifa member said that Jews do tend to avoid antifa events because they feel antifa is demanding that all Jews abandon Israel. That same activist told CJN that “Nazis support the State of Israel” because they use the example of a Jewish ethno-state to argue that whites should also have their own ethno-state and Jews expelled from this ethno-state could just go to Israel.*Evan Balgord, “Anti-Fascist and Anti-Israel; Jewish Antifa Talks Views on Israel and Jews,” Canadian Jewish News,, November 22, 2017,

The left, and the far left in particular, have coalesced around the idea of defending those living under oppression. Anti-Zionism itself is not inherently antisemitism. There are, of course, anti-Zionist Jews who do not believe that a state of Israel should exist without the coming of the messiah or who lament the secularized nature of the modern Israeli state. But, as recognized by the IHRA, anti-Zionism becomes antisemitic when it is driven by the specific notion that Jews are the only group not entitled to a state of their own. Those on the left and the far left have found their antisemitic rhetoric is more palatable when coating it with the patina of anti-Zionism. Groups like SJP and the Women’s March believe themselves to be proponents of human rights, defending victims of oppression while targeting all Jews regardless of their support for the policies of the State of Israel.

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