What The College Kids Don’t Get
I went to college once. I thought I understood injustice. I was there at Duke when the protest called The Vigil took place on main quad in front of the Duke Chapel in 1968 following Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination. Its goal was to get salary raises for the cafeteria and domestic workers. The Vigil worked. The salaries went up and the women who cleaned our rooms were let go. The money had to come from somewhere.
I was at Duke when the Black students took over the Allen Building, the administrative center of the campus on February 13, 1969 and the Durham Police gassed main quad. The Black students made their point. Eventually Duke became more aware of the plight of the underprivileged. Duke got a new president, former governor and senator Terry Sanford. He turned the place around and, I might add, was a truly great gentleman who was gracious enough to come and speak at an Engel Society meeting for me when I chaired that group. The Engel Society was a collection of Duke medical students and faculty members who gathered every two months to discuss the issues of the day at a small dinner. President Sanford was a dynamite guest and all of Duke owes him a debt of gratitude. He saved the place after the political turmoil of the late Sixties.
And, fortunately, Terry Sanford was the president of Duke then. Not me. His judgment was far better than that of a medical student.
College students are still formulating their ideas and they are doing that development in an environment that is so left-wing it cannot fly straight. DEI is everywhere as is wokeism and the support for Palestinian rights. I want to focus on the latter.
All over the country and the western world anti-Semitism is on the rise and pro-Palestinian rallies seem to grow. The Anti-Defamation League has estimated that anti-Semitic incidents are up about 400 percent. The rallies want to “Free Palestine.” But, let’s examine that.
There is no such country as Palestine. There was an area in the British territory called Palestine that was partitioned in 1947 by the UN and part of it gave birth to the state of Israel in land that was PART of what was historically controlled by the Jews at times before and after the Common Era. The Jews took less than what they wanted or historically governed in “Palestine” just to have something. And they had to fight to keep it. Many times. If these college boys and and girls think today’s Jews in Israel are going to give back the land they bargained for, fought for, and died for, they are sadly mistaken.
Just like elections, wars have consequences. Germany no longer controls Poland. Russia no longer controls Ukraine, though they are trying to regain it. Maybe the college kids think Russia ought to have Ukraine if the Palestinian Arabs are owed Israel. In fact, let’s give South Dakota back to the Sioux.
Most of Africa used to be governed by European colonialists and China wants Taiwan back. There are constant fights for land. Israel is one of the places in which those fights occurred, but the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza cannot be given any of post-1967 Israel yet given the result of what Hamas did in Gaza when Israel left the Gaza Strip without serious oversight by the outside world.
The Arab population of the West Bank and Gaza must develop real leaders, capable and willing to govern for the good of the people and build schools instead of tunnels.
All that being said, I do agree with Tom Friedman:
Israel could have grabbed the international high ground by being patient. Rather than invade Gaza by land, they could have waited and worked with the global community and the Sunni states to get the hostages out and Hamas removed. The problem is that was never likely to happen and the Israeli public cannot wait to feel safe again. As I have recently written, Israel was pressed to act by the butchers of October 7. Never again, means never again.
I have no idea what Israel will do with Gaza once Israel both levels and captures it. The Israelis will be responsible for the people, like it or not. They still have not articulated any goals but ridding Gaza of Hamas and that’s not a long-term plan.
The college students don’t have a plan either. Free Palestine? Hamas couldn’t run Gaza and the Palestinian Authority cannot run the West Bank. Israel needs a new partner and the Arabs need new leadership. It is up to the Gulf Sunni states to step up, take over Gaza, and develop a plan for new leadership on the West Bank that will both lead to a two-state solution and guarantee the security of Israel.
This may or may not be the best way. It may be the only way.