Want to be pro-Palestinian? Don’t support U.S. college demonstrations

Pro-Palestine Protests at George Washington University, April 2024

Demonstrations in the name of “Free Palestine” have grown in extremity on American college campuses in recent weeks, devolving to breaking into and occupying academic buildings, mass student hunger strikes, and outright violence between students.

Rhetoric towards Zionists and Jewish students is increasingly shocking, while more and more Jewish students are intimidated and blocked from moving about campus.

While it is legitimate and lawful to peacefully protest the devastating war in Gaza, these demonstrations are sadly driven by false narratives that Israel is “genocidal” and an “imperialist colonizer” and that Hamas are “freedom fighters.”

These claims are not only factually inaccurate but are modern-day antisemitic tropes creating mainstream hostility against Jews and promoting internationally recognized terrorist organizations. Here are a few misconceptions leading to these societal dangers.

Many “Free-Palestine” protestors on campuses are openly supporting Hamas and its military wing. Yet, ironic to the movement’s anti-war apparatus, supporting Hamas is to literally support war, terror, genocide, and a terrible future for Palestinians if left under Hamas’ rule.

A few facts about Hamas: the genocide of Zionists is in Hamas’ charter, Hamas started the war on 10/7, has rejected every ceasefire offer from Israel, refuses to release the 100+ hostages, and does not fight for a democratic Palestinian state. Hamas fights for an Islamist caliphate based on Shariah law, which is hostile to Western values of women’s rights, freedom of speech and expression, LGBTQ rights, etc. (All values that Israel champions).

To advocate for Palestinian rights, you should not be supporting Hamas’ war by calling on Israel to agree to a ceasefire that leaves Hamas in power.

Palestinians deserve leadership that leads them toward peace, not leadership that furthers the indoctrination of jihad, the genocide of Zionists, and the destruction of the state of Israel. Palestinians deserve a non-corrupt government that creates economic opportunities for them and does not funnel its resources toward anti-Zionist terror.

GenZ’s support for Hamas is rationalized by its hatred of Israel, with a primary feature of the Free Palestine movement being anti-Zionism. Zionism is the belief that Jews have the right to exist in their ancestral homeland. To be anti-Zionist, then, is to believe that the only Jewish state in the world shouldn’t exist. While issues over policy are normal, what other nations do Westerners protest the existence of so vehemently? What about all other post-millennia land disputes?

If protestors care about human rights, why not protest the Iranian regime that hangs civilians who criticize the government? Or the Sudanese Civil War, the worst reported humanitarian crisis in the world and an active genocide? Or the North Korean, regime? Or the CCP and Russia? Anti-Zionism is a double standard applied only to Israel, and antisemitic, even inadvertently, at its core.

GenZ is anti-Zionist because they have been taught that Israel is an imperialist colonizer. This cannot be true for a myriad of reasons, but most obviously because Jews are indigenous to the land of Judea. Arabs, from Arabia, colonized the region after Muhammad founded Islam, migrating from the Arabian Peninsula well after Jews established a long history there as a people. Jewish return to their homeland from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and beyond is, therefore, a decolonizing movement of the region. Palestinians have a right to thrive in the region, just not at the expense of Jews’ rights to their homeland, which is what Hamas and anti-Zionists believe.

Perhaps the most pungent accusation made is Israel committing genocide. Genocide, to be distinguished from the concept of war, is the intent to eliminate an entire people group. While it is right and just to mourn the loss of the innocent, GenZ fails to distinguish between genocide and just war. Israel’s intent is not to destroy the people of Gaza, as is proven by the IDF’s remarkable restraint to prevent civilian casualties. Hamas, however, uses its people as human shields, conflates non-combatant deaths with those participating in terrorist activities, and controls death toll numbers released by the Gaza Health Ministry, thus compromising estimates. In the West Bank and Gaza, population growth rates are reportedly the highest in the world (3.4% and 4.0%). In Israel, Arabs are a thriving minority, serving in the government and military, and have full rights of citizenship.

Because of anti-Zionism and claims of genocide, students on campus are demanding their universities to divest from Israel. But do they know that Israel is the West’s primary ally in maintaining stability in the Middle East, where bad actors like the Iranian regime want to create a variation of Hamas’ vision of an Islamist caliphate spanning the entire region? Israel is a pillar of democracy and pluralism helping maintain freedom and stability in a region where the subjugation of minorities to death, second-class citizenship, and abysmal human rights laws would be much more rampant.

The demonstrations on campuses are more than a pro-Palestinian movement. We are witnessing a radical Marxist, far-left empowerment movement shaping the next generation. Critical race theory, the limiting of history to the oppressor and oppressed narrative, is an ideology manipulated by the Iranian regime, Hamas, and other anti-Western actors to turn American public opinion against Israel and, worse, against itself.

Americans should advocate for Palestinian rights and do so peacefully, but the solution is not a “global intifada revolution.” When engaging with the Middle East, Westerners must put aside their Western thinking and approach issues respecting the history, religions, experiences, and nuances of the peoples involved.

About the Author
Susanna Hoffman is a communications specialist at the Philos Project, focusing on Western engagement with the Near East.
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