Why The College Students Rally For Palestine
One of the things that has deeply upset my generation of American Jews has been the support on the college campuses for Palestinians after the massacre of Israelis by Hamas on October 7.
In the attached op-ed from The New York Times on January 27, Ezra Klein does a pretty good job of explaining what’s going on that so mystifies Jews over the age of 65. In short, the young people believe Benjamin Netanyahu more than us old folks do.
Here’s what he means.
Netanyahu has basically said that there will be no Palestinian state as long as he is prime minister and goes so far as to say that he has “opposed it for years.” That must be true. He’s been prime minster longer than any other man or woman including David Ben Gurion and he’s made sure that Hamas continued to run Gaza after it was elected in 2006 and that the leadership of the West Bank Palestinian Authority remained weak and ineffective. He oversaw the vast Jewish settlement of the disputed territory in the West Bank (500,000 settlers) and is currently overseeing the most right-wing anti-Palestinian group of ministers ever to lead Israel. And there still is no Palestinian state.
Klein goes on to show how the support for Israel is vastly stronger among those Americans over 65 and then explains it this way.
There are three generations of Americans when it comes to their viewpoint of Israel.
First, there are those older Americans who remember a fledgling Israel fighting for its survival winning wars against its Arab neighbors and not believing it would last 75 years.
Second is the generation that knew the strong Israel, the atomic Israel. That Israel was aggressive against the Palestinians but under Ehud Barak, Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres Israelis were Brailling their way toward a two-state solution especially while the Oslo Accords were still viable.
The young people see Israel under Netanyahu. They see an aggressor nation, a “colonial power.” They see no chance for a Palestinian state and certainly no one-state solution that the Arabs could stomach. They believe Netanyahu.
This essay goes a long way to explaining the current intractable situation in the Middle East and how Americans of different ages respond to it.
Of course, Klein does not mention Iranian mischief as a factor in furthering conflict in the region, but he does make the demonstrations for Palestine, even among Jewish college students, comprehensible.
Unfortunately, anti-Zionism has led to anti-Semitism or the unmasking of anti-Semitism that was there all along.
The real question for thinking American Jews is where do we go from here?
None of the three generations is irrational in its response to what happened on October 7 or the Israeli response to the horror. Many, many people have died on both sides and there seems to be no end. Furthermore, Iran has been emboldened by the success of Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis.
Russia and China are basking in the disarray of the region and Iran deems everyday an Israeli bomb drops in Gaza a measure of success. Only the United States can bring order to the region. This may require military action against Iran to get it to stop its proxy wars and pressure on the Israeli leadership not in power to call for new elections as soon as possible.
The young people of America believe Mr. Netanyahu. Perhaps we all should. Perhaps Mr. Biden should.