A Jewish boy takes cover
A Jewish boy takes cover from the sun while participating in a demonstration demanding the safe return of three Israeli teenagers missing in the West Bank, outside the Israeli Consulate in ManhattanReuters

Three quarters of Jewish students in universities in the United States and Canada have said they experienced anti-Semitism in the past year.

According to a recent study conducted by a US university, one third of the Jewish students polled in north America said they had been verbally harassed because of their religion.

More than one quarter of the respondents said harassment was the result of their perceived connections with Israeli foreign policy and felt they were personally held responsible for the actions of Israel.

One in four Jewish students reported seeing hostility against Israel on campus from peers as a "very big" or "fairly big" problem, and nearly 15% felt the same level of animosity towards Jews.

The study also found Canadian universities and Midwest and California state schools had the highest rates of students reporting hostility.

Most respondents said they viewed the opinion that Jews living in the US were not American was anti-Semitic.

More than three-quarters believed opposition to Israel's existence was in essence anti-Semitism, and a much smaller proportion, 27%, defined criticism of Israeli policies as being anti-Semitic.

"It is clear that anti-Israelism morphs into anti-Semitism on campus," Leonard Saxe, the lead researcher for the study, told Israeli newspaper Haaretz. "But it is also likely that those who are highly connected to Israel become a target of anti-Semitic or anti-Israel sentiment because they make their support for Israel known."

Saxe says the way to foster a more tolerant atmosphere on campus is to expand experiential Israel education and add more university courses that relate to Israel and Judaism, IBTimes US reported.

"We see that young American Jews have a poor sense of history, context and complexity," Saxe said. "They want to be involved, they care about their Judaism and about Israel, and they want to learn."

The survey, Antisemitism And The College Campus: Perceptions And Realities, looked at a random sample of 12,049 American and Canadian undergraduate college students who had applied to go on a 10-day educational trip to Israel with Jewish organisation Taglit-Birthright Israel.