Between 2017 and 2022, 92.82% of the articles in leading U.S. college newspapers that strayed from journalistic objectivity were anti-Israel, according to a report from Alums for Campus Fairness.

ACF surveyed 75 leading college and university newspapers. Of all the articles about Israel exhibiting a bias, 181 were biased against Israel and 14 portrayed it positively.

Coverage spiked during periods of tension between Israel and Hamas, including in November 2018, May 2019, November 2019 and May 2021. There is an intense fixation on Israel, with nearly 1,500 stories on the topic, the researchers found.

Avi Gordon, executive director of ACF, told JNS that the increase in “hatred towards Jewish and pro-Israel students standing up for the truth” reflects the fact that Israel has become a “divisive topic.” Israel is always considered newsworthy, which fosters a culture of saturation coverage in which bias against the Jewish state is popular, he explained.

Large public universities produced the most content about Israel. While liberal arts colleges produced less, small private colleges exhibited the most anti-Israel bias. The Claremont Colleges, a consortium of seven private institutions in Claremont, California, and Swarthmore College in Pennslyvania, for example, produced 31 articles over a five-year period.

Gordon said there has also been a shift in the general discourse on Israel. “Whereas it used to be, ‘I am not anti-SemiticI am anti-Israel’ or ‘anti-Zionist,’” this distinction is increasingly becoming meaningless.

“Jewish students are more afraid to share their Judaism or their love for Israel” openly, he noted, describing instances of people who are scared to wear a yarmulke or IDF shirt on campus, or to share their culture and faith. 

Douglas Sandoval, the managing editor of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA), told JNS, “In the last five years, groups like Students for Justice in Palestine, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace and ‘activists’ masquerading as academics have intensified their efforts to demonize the State of Israel and gather support for this hateful ideology in the classroom, student life and campus papers.

“Not only are we seeing articles with a negative and inaccurate slant on Israel. We are also seeing an uptick in the chilling of speech of Jewish and pro-Israel students,” he continued.

The report found that op-eds are a much healthier platform for pro-Israel voices. While the survey did find that there were more anti-Israel than pro-Israel op-eds, the split was not nearly as sharp as among news articles. 

Gordon expressed hope that the ACF’s findings will spark Jewish and pro-Israel students to share op-eds more widely and call out hostile newspapers. 

“This is a call for universities to have a more balanced approach in their publications,” he said.

Sandoval called on school administrators to “examine the study and adapt their policies.” He added that “adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Anti-Semitism is one such way to identify and address anti-Semitism.”

As of 2021, 30 U.S. colleges have endorsed the IHRA definition.

None of the surveyed newspapers responded to requests for comment.

JNS

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