US college presidents arrive in Israel on AJC-led trip

Tour participants are expected to meet with their counterparts from Israeli universities, learn about programs aimed at fostering student innovation and entrepreneurship and more.

 Campus life (photo credit: WIKIPEDIA)
Campus life
(photo credit: WIKIPEDIA)

A delegation of United States university presidents has arrived in Israel as part of a trip sponsored by Project Interchange, an educational institute of the American Jewish Committee (AJC).

“Israeli universities are on the cutting edge when it comes to research and scholarship in many important fields,” said Project Interchange Director Nisha Abkarian. “Colleges are in the business of learning and the exchange of ideas on trips like these has led to many fruitful collaborations.”

Tour participants are expected to "meet with their counterparts from Israeli universities, learn about programs aimed at fostering student innovation and entrepreneurship, and opportunities for partnership in the agricultural sciences. They will meet with strategic experts who can add context to Israel’s security concerns, expand their understanding of Palestinian and Arab-Israeli narratives, and engage with leaders of Israel’s diverse culture and society," according to AJC. 

Colleges represented on the trip include Oberlin College, University of Miami, Wellesley College, University of Rochester, and University of Colorado.

Among similar delegations Project Interchange has run to Israel includes last year's cohort from historically Black colleges and universities, the first trip of its kind. 

Protesters call for boycott of Israel [file] (credit: REUTERS)
Protesters call for boycott of Israel [file] (credit: REUTERS)

Antisemitism on US college campuses 

The trip comes as antisemitism and anti-Israel rhetoric on American college campuses are on the rise. 

Over 350 anti-Israel incidents were reported in the US during the 2021-22 academic year, an October report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) finds.

The report found 11 cases of vandalism, 19 cases of harassment, and one case of physical assault. Other findings included 20 BDS resolutions, 143 events and 165 protests or actions.

“Many but not all incidents may be characterized as antisemitic,” it reads.

“The antisemitic vitriol directed at pro-Israel students is deeply unsettling and makes our colleges and universities feel less safe and secure for Jewish students,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO, said in a statement. “University leaders must learn how to recognize and adequately respond to antisemitism whenever it arises, including when anti-Israel activities cross the line into antisemitic hatred,” he added.

Omri Nahmias and Haley Cohen contributed to this report.