Malcolm Hoenlein, president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (Miriam Alster/Flash90) (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Malcolm Hoenlein

Seventy-five percent of American Jewish students say they have witnessed or experienced anti-Semitism on their college campuses, a problem that “we have a collective responsibility to address,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

In many cases, the reason behind the anti-Semitism is “ignorance” rather than hatred, explained Hoenlein, whose Conference of Presidents represents 50 national Jewish organizations, in an interview published last Thursday by the Israeli website Ynet.

Hoenlein affirmed that Jewish leaders are working on the “security and safety of Jewish students, and we have lawyers who go onto campuses all over the country—many of them, by the way, non-Jews—to protect the interests and rights of Jewish students, to enlist faculty, to go after the administrations, to work with them. In many cases we find it’s ignorance, it’s the lack of understanding—it’s not hatred or anti-Semitism.”

“It’s not Europe yet, but [anti-Semitism] is definitely on the rise [in America],” Hoenlein said.

On the topic of US-Israel relations, Hoenlein said he believes both President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are working to allay any current tension between the longtime allied nations.

“The American public supports Israel by an overwhelming majority, and it’s been consistent and constant. Even on the Iran issue, the American public supported the position that we advocated and expresses concern today about the Iran deal,” Hoenlein said of the now-implemented nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers.