Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Media influencers, institutions cause uptick in antisemitism

Recent comments by prominent media influencers responsible for spike in antisemitic behavior on college campuses
Bea Frank

In recent decades, college campuses across America have made efforts to support and appreciate their thriving Jewish communities. This includes the University of Wisconsin, home to 6,000 Jewish students.

But Jewish students are facing a significant uptick in antisemitism on college campuses. One in three Jewish students have personally experienced antisemitic hate in the last academic year.

Not to mention, prejudiced and discriminatory behavior directed toward Jewish communities reached a record high in 2021. Antisemitism is an age-old issue, but this sudden surge in hostility within universities is not only paradoxical to recent trends, but deeply disappointing and unacceptable.  


The unanticipated increase in antisemitism on college campuses can in part be attributed to the high-profile individuals in the media and politics, who have used their platforms to spread messages which portray Israel and its communities as dangerous.  

The rapper Ye, formally recognized as Kanye West, propagated offensive remarks directed toward the Jewish community, causing further hateful demonstrations and rhetoric. Kyrie Irving also refused to denounce antisemitism. As public figures, upholding antisemitism endorses hateful individuals, paving the way for further antisemitic sentiment.  

Starbucks workers protest for better wages, benefits

The hateful projections made by these high-profile individuals caused widespread fear among the Jewish community, including members of Jewish organizations on Madison’s campus. 

“I feel afraid to be sitting in a room with three hundred Jews at Hillel because of what’s going on,” member of UW Hillel Savannah Lipinski said. “It puts me at a risk.” 

Another driving force behind this surge of antisemitism is that the Jewish community has increasingly been accused of having dual loyalty. This misinformed stereotype paints Jewish people as untrustworthy because their “true allegiance” is to their religion and Israel.

Trump perpetuated this idea when running for the 2020 presidency, further scapegoating Jewish communities and creating an antisemitic frenzy in America. The theory that Jewish people in America cannot be loyal to the American government is false and stigmatic.

Categorizing all Jewish people as radical Israeli loyalists neglects other aspects of identity. Identity in America is intersectional and nuanced, and dual loyalty fails to recognize that every Jewish American has individual experiences and identities. Those who disseminate this problematic stereotype are causing a deep mistrust for Jewish Americans. This is antisemitism in action. 

Lipinski explained how problematic dual loyalty can be, saying “it’s an ignorant and naive way of thinking about identity at this point in America.”

People within the Jewish community — whether they have origins in Israel or not — are being blamed for the Israeli government’s policies. Due to the morally ambiguous reputation of the government, this projection poses a threat to the safety and well-being of Jewish college students because it overgeneralizes Jewish people as evil. This makes Jewish individuals primary targets for violence and threats. 

Lipinski stated how, “Jewish organizations, if not individuals on campus, are blamed for some of the actions of the state of Israel or the global Jewish community in a way that I don’t think is happening to other student organizations that serve minority communities.”

Tovah Frockt, another member of UW Hillel, agreed, saying that “Jewish Americans are held to a higher standard to explain what the Israeli government does.”

Broad implementation of pandemic relief programs may help offset racial disparities

In recent years, antisemitism in the form of anti-Zionism has become endemic on college campuses. While there are justifiable criticisms of the Israeli government that take form in civilized political discourses, there is also an increasing number of radical anti-Israeli demonstrations.

Primarily driven by Students for Justice in Palestine, there is a vast network of students disseminating anti-Israel rhetoric. This rhetoric on campus can easily escalate from protests and peaceful rallies into hostile antisemitism that demonizes American Jewish people as racist and genocidal.

The problem with trying to combat antisemitism by educating prejudiced people on the Israel-Palestine conflict is that the current educational system uses a white, historically American lens to understand and assess racial conflicts. Because of the racial dynamics in America that are unique and singular to the United States, people will look to this historical racial hierarchy to make conclusions about and understand America’s power structure. 

Many people want to use this same lens to dissect the Israeli-Palestine conflict. As a result, being Jewish has become synonymous with white supremacy. However, the American perception of race does not translate well in other countries, falsely making Israelis out to be white colonizers suppressing a non-white country. This notion is perceived poorly by the majority of progressive college students, and this is why college campuses have festering issues with anti-Zionism and antisemitism. 

Viewing Jewish people and Israel in this manner completely neglects the history and nuance of this conflict. When individuals make Jewish people out to be white oppressors, they neglect how white and non-white dynamics in other countries are vastly different than in America. This conflict should not be manipulated to fit the American formula of race relations. 

“A lot of people do not know what to do with antisemitism because a lot of Jews are white,” Frockt said. “I think that people are hesitant to speak out on behalf of Jews because they don’t know what to do. People don’t know how to handle oppression against a group that is predominantly white, especially on campus.”

UW needs to do more to support Jewish communities on campus. Last September, chalkings marred sidewalks on campus targeting Jewish students as racist and genocidal with blood on their hands.

The university responded by releasing a statement explaining that, though not against the law, these chalkings violated the campus norms that are actively working toward creating a sense of belonging. This was not enough to combat hatemongers, and it was certainly not enough to support those deeply offended by the act. 

“The campus and the university administration need to be doing more,” Lipinksi said. “They say that they are trying to foster a sense of belonging on campus, but I think if you talk to any marginalized group on campus, they will tell you that this is not true. It is all words and no action.” 

UW needs to do more than simply respond to these acts. This reactive approach prevents the university from truly fostering an atmosphere in which marginalized communities feel safe and respected. 

Football: Wisconsin’s legendary history of walk-on stars

Frockt would like to see the university take more responsibility for antisemitic actions on campus.

UW-Madison could put more funding into services that help students after antisemitic incidents,” Frockt said.

Frockt hopes that the university will educate and uplift mental health services on how to deal with antisemitism. 

Racism and antisemitism exist, but the university can actively work toward creating a sense of cultural plurality. Taking steps forward will prevent people from feeling like the UW campus is a place where hate will be normalized and tolerated.

Abbey Handel ([email protected]) is a freshman studying journalism and political science.

Editor’s Note:

If you witness or experience an act of bias or hate, report it to UW and UW Hillel.

University Health Services also offers counseling and consultation for targeted individuals of bias incidents.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *