U.S. College Students and the War in Israel: Jewish Engagement and Social Tension on Campus

– by Eitan Hersh, PhD

February 20th, 2024

New research conducted by Dr. Eitan Hersh provides key insights on the impact of October 7th and subsequent rise in antisemitism on Jewish college students on campus. In particular, the research examines whether and how Jewish college students are experiencing changes in Jewish identity and participation, and increased social tension, on campus. Students also answered survey questions regarding their changing views about Israel and the extent to which their own mental health has been affected in recent months.

This research is unique in that it includes survey responses from Jewish college students who also participated in a study conducted by Dr. Hersh in 2022. As Dr. Hersh notes, “The panel of students surveyed both years provides a link between pre-October 7 Jewish life on campus and post-October 7 Jewish life on campus. If we observe attitudinal changes in the panel, we know it’s not because of sampling variation but because students felt differently in 2023 than 2022.”

These new findings represent a mid-point in the research. A series of focus groups will be conducted in the spring, as well as another survey. Both of these data collection efforts will allow for continued examination of change over time. A full report will be available in summer 2024.

Dr. Hersh shares interim findings from the research in the three-part essay series below:

About the Researcher:
Eitan Hersh is a professor of political science at Tufts University. His research focuses on US elections and civic participation. Hersh is the author of Politics is for Power (Scribner, 2020), Hacking the Electorate (Cambridge UP 2015), as well as many scholarly articles. Hersh earned his PhD from Harvard in 2011 and served as assistant professor of political science at Yale University from 2011-2017. His public writings have appeared in venues such as the New York Times, USA Today, The Atlantic, POLITICO, and the Boston Globe. Hersh regularly testifies in voting rights court cases and has testified to the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary about the role of data analytics in political campaigns. In addition to work on elections and civic engagement, Hersh has written on topics ranging from antisemitism and the political consequences of terrorist attacks to politicization in health care delivery and the opioid crisis. His next book is about the civic role of business leaders.

Brief Study Background:
The study was funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation. The survey itself was administered by College Pulse, a survey and analytics firm specializing in the college student population. Dr. Hersh, who has conducted a number of studies on civic engagement, young adults, and antisemitism, worked with the Foundation and College Pulse to organize this research project and analyze the results.

To receive the full data set of the study when it’s available, please email [email protected] with “data set request” as the subject line.

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