America's College Campuses Rise Up Against Israel's Genocidal War on Gaza

Israel's genocidal war on Gaza has sparked widespread strong protests on American college campuses. Many Jewish Americans have also joined marches in major cities across the United States against the US policy of blind support for the Israeli government. Polls indicate that young Americans are increasingly turning against the Biden administration. This will likely hurt President Joseph R. Biden's chances of re-election in the upcoming presidential elections in 2024. It is important to remember that the US college campuses led the opposition to the Vietnam war in the 1960s and marched against South African Apartheid in the 1980s.  Young Americans have repeatedly proved to be America's conscience. 

Pro-Palestine Protest at UCLA. Source: Daily Bruin

Genocidal War:

Israel has completely cut off water, food, electricity, fuel and communications in Gaza. It is bombing its 2 million trapped residents around the clock since the October 7 terrorist attack on Israelis by Hamas. On the ground in Gaza, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's promised "Mighty Vengeance" is in fact a genocidal war on Gaza. Thousands of Palestinian civilians, mainly innocent children and women, have been killed by Israel's bombing. The Israeli military has destroyed hospitals, churches, mosques, apartment blocks and schools. Large parts of Gaza have been turned to rubble by the Israeli air strikes. Multiple generations of families have been completely wiped out. Craig Mokhiber, a UN human rights official, has called it “textbook genocide” and accused the UN of again “failing” to act, referring to previous genocides in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Myanmar. Israeli government ministers' statements calling Gazans "human animals" and their intentions of "flattening Gaza" lend support to Mokhiber's conclusions. He has resigned from his UN post in protest. At a recent senate hearing, Pakistan-born US Senator Chris Van Hollen  (D-MD) presented Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin with statistics and a personal story of loss when questioning him about Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza. Van Hollen said:

"Last night, my wife and I learned that someone we know well lost two family members and four of their children killed in bombing in Gaza. So, they are not yet included in the most recent death toll reported by the United Nations yesterday, which says the number of dead has risen to over 8,300 people, 70% of them women and children, including 3,457 children. These are UN figures. According to UN figures, that is about six times more children killed in three weeks in Gaza than the number of children killed in Ukraine during the entire war there.And if you scale the deaths of those Palestinian children to the United States population, it’s comparable to more than 230,000 American children killed. The executive director of UNICEF, Catherine Russell, said at the current rate, more than 420 children are being killed and injured in the Gaza each day, a number, she said, which should shake us to our core. I agree".

The Original Sin:

Speaking at the UN General Assembly debate on the Gaza ceasefire resolution, the Pakistani Ambassador to the UN Munir Akram provided the historical context for what is happening now. He said Israel’s occupation and killing of Palestinians “is the original sin” and not what happened on Oct 7. “We all know who started this. It is 50 years of Israeli occupation and the killing of Palestinians with impunity,” he added. The resolution passed with 145 countries voting in favor and 14 against, including the United States and Israel. 

College Campus Protests:

There have been massive protests on US college campuses against mass killings of civilians by indiscriminate Israeli bombings in Gaza. Vast majority of the victims of Israel's attacks are women and children who make up over two-thirds of the Gaza population. These protests have drawn the ire of Israel supporters who are alleging antisemitism to try to stop these protests. Some wealthy pro-Israel Jewish donors are threatening college administrators, while others are rescinding job offers made to students who have participated in anti-Israel rallies. In the media, several journalists have been fired for expressing pro-Palestine views. 

Israel Apartheid and BDS:

According to Amnesty International, Israel's practices in Israel and the occupied territories amount to Apartheid, which is prohibited in international law.   Prior to the latest protests, dozens of US college campuses voted for and passed BDS (Boycott-Divest-Suspend) resolutions against Israel with overwhelming majority. These were designed to send a message to the Jewish state to abandon its Apartheid policies aimed at the Palestinians.  

Jewish Americans Call For Ceasefire:

Many Jewish Americans have marched in support of a ceasefire in Gaza that has been proposed to stop the slaughter of Palestinian civilians and allow aid agencies to deliver desperately needed help to relieve the immense suffering of the civilian population. Overwhelming majority of countries voted for this ceasefire at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). 145 countries voted in favor of this resolution and 14 against, including the United States and Israel. 

US Opinion Polls:

Polls show that the majority of young Americans oppose the Biden administration policy of unconditional support for Israel.  A recent Quinnipiac poll found that 51% of voters under 35 say they disapprove of the United States’ sending weapons and military support to Israel—a much higher figure than the 28% of Americans who oppose such a policy. Only 21% of voters under 35 say they approve of Biden’s Israel policy; 42% of voters across all age brackets approve.

A CBS News poll conducted last week found that 59% of respondents under 30 oppose sending weapons and supplies to Israel. An even more resounding 64% of those between age 30 and 44—a bracket more likely to vote that carries the whole millennial generation and part of Gen X—said the U.S. should not.

US Pew Poll Conducted in 2022. Source: Pew Research

Democrats Split:

Some strong voices critical of Israel have recently emerged in the US Congress, particularly among the progressive Democrats. A Pew survey conducted last year found that only 44% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents have a favorable view of Israel.  Conservative and moderate Democrats (50%) are more favorable toward Israel than liberal Democrats (36%).  But the party establishment, led by the Biden administration, remains totally committed to supporting the Jewish state unconditionally. This split could cost Democrats enough votes for them to lose the White House and both houses of Congress in 2024. 

American Muslim Vote:

Recent Reuters/Zogby poll shows that only 17% of Arab-Americans expressed support for President Biden, a huge drop from the 59% support he received in 2020. American Muslim vote is particularly important in swing states where Biden won by a small margin in 2020. For example, Biden won Michigan by about 154,000 votes, and there are estimated 242,000 Muslims in the state. And he won Minnesota by about 233,000, where there are an estimated 115,00 Muslims, according to an NBC report

The White House has unveiled a strategy to combat Islamophobia, an attempt to woo Muslim voters. "We look forward to continuing our work with community leaders, advocates, members of Congress, and more to develop the strategy – which will be a joint effort led by the Domestic Policy Council and the National Security Council – and counter the scourge of Islamophobia and hate in all its forms," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.


US polls indicate that Israel's genocidal actions in Occupied Palestine are costing the Jewish state the support of many young Americans, and causing a major split in the Democratic Party. These events do not augur well for Israel in the long run. It is time for the Israeli public to ponder if it is wise to support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's policy of continued occupation and destruction of Palestine. 

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  • Riaz Haq

    Pro-#Palestine Protests at #US Colleges Open a Generational Divide. Young #Americans are learning of long #Israeli occupation of Palestine and history of #European colonial oppression from fellow students from countries such as #Pakistan. #GazaGenocide

    College brought new encounters with students from a range of backgrounds, which Little said was eye-opening. With a double major of French studies and fine arts, he signed up for classes about areas colonized by the French empire, Islamic art and theology. He became best friends with a Pakistani American student and joined a South Asian student group, and more recently the Arab Student Union and Muslim Student Association.


    Three years ago, Erin Mullen arrived at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst exhausted by the pandemic and without any appetite for political demonstrations. Last month she sat in a holding cell in an Amherst jail with her hands cuffed behind her back, one of 57 students arrested while protesting the conflict in Gaza.

    Mullen is white, her parents were raised Catholic and she grew up in an upper middle class Boston suburb. Her political awakening—along with those of tens of thousands of her generation now enrolled at college—is fueling a surge of campus unrest not seen since the Vietnam War.

    A wave of pro-Palestinian protests has swept college campuses, leading to heightened tensions, counterprotests and, in some cases, violence. The conflict has also exposed a generational divide, with many older Americans surprised at the protests’ scope and intensity.

    Mullen and other pro-Palestinian college demonstrators say their activism is rooted in a deeply held conviction that the world is divided between the oppressed and their oppressors.

    That view frames the suffering of an array of populations, they say, including low-income families being evicted from their homes, Black and brown people who encounter brutal treatment by the police, migrants turned away from safe haven at the border and, in the current conflict, Palestinians struggling to wrest control of territory from the Israelis.

    “Gaza is not a two-sided war,” said Mullen, who is 21. “What is happening is the resistance of the oppressed against their oppressor.”

    The protesters’ sympathy for Hamas, designated by the U.S. as a terrorist group, sometimes astonishes and rankles bystanders. Roughly half of Americans 18 to 24 years old think Hamas’s October attack was justified by grievances of the Palestinians, according to a Harvard Harris Poll. Just 9% of people aged 65 and older feel the same.

    The activists at pro-Palestinian events include a range of student groups who say they can draw a direct line from the causes they support to the plight of Palestinians in Gaza.

    In one protest earlier this month, University of Pennsylvania Students Against the Occupation were joined by groups including Fossil Free Penn, Police Free Penn, Save UC Townhomes and Students for the Preservation of Chinatown at a demonstration outside a board of trustees meeting.

    Participants seamlessly shifted between calls for a cease-fire in Gaza and concerns about fair wages for graduate students, the police presence on Penn’s campus, the university’s endowment choices and opposition to the construction of a new 76ers basketball arena in center-city Philadelphia.

    “Occupation is a crime, from West Philly to Palestine!” the group of about 50 students and others shouted.

    “All oppressed and displaced people are fighting for their right to return,” declared one speaker, who, like most people in the audience, wore a mask covering his face. “From 40th and Market to Palestine, this is the same struggle.”

  • Riaz Haq

    Pro-#Palestine Protests at #US Colleges Open a Generational Divide.

    Last month, Brown University’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter issued a statement that said the group held “the Israeli regime and its allies unequivocally responsible for all suffering and loss of life, Palestinian or Israeli.” It was endorsed by more than 40 other student groups, including the Teaching Assistant Labor Organization, Burlesque at Brown, Brown Beekeeping Society and Poler Bears, a pole-dancing performance group.


    Noah Thompson, a 24-year-old senior at the University of Oregon, works in a university dining hall to put himself through school. Raised by a single mother, he believes too much of the nation’s wealth has accrued to the most affluent, and capitalism is skewed to help the rich and exploit the poor. He said he’s troubled by war profiteers selling arms to Israel, who then use the weapons to kill children, and has helped organize a “No Money for Massacres” campaign to promote a cease-fire in Palestine.

    “There always seems to be enough money, bombs, for war, for intervention abroad, and never enough money for education, for healthcare, for creating a better and secure society for us here now,” he said.

    Some student protesters have minimized the brutality of the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, when militants killed more than 1,200 Israeli civilians, including concertgoers and children, and took 240 hostages. Health authorities in the Hamas-run Gaza say more than 13,000 people had been killed there in the war.

    Some protesters have referred to the attack in demonstrations and public statements as an “armed uprising” or “act of resistance.” That framing has been particularly abhorrent to Jewish leaders, who have called on campus administrators to denounce such language as antisemitic.


    College presidents are struggling to navigate between championing free speech, mollifying outraged alumni and protecting Jewish and Arab students from harassment. Universities in recent weeks have announced advisory committees, task forces and research centers to address rising antisemitism.

    Mullen, from UMass, said criticism of Hamas is often used to undermine the legitimacy of the Palestinian movement. She said she feels “deep sympathy for everyone involved” and doesn’t approve of the Oct. 7 attack, but said it wasn’t unprovoked.

    Israel set the stage for violence by condemning Palestinians to live in “an open air prison or a concentration camp,” she said. “I think the way that the media portrays it makes it very difficult to understand but in reality it is a pretty straightforward conflict.”

    Mullen began following the conflict in Israel and Gaza in October, after a few years mainly on the sidelines of political movements. She said she was confident in her understanding of the power dynamics in the Gaza Strip since Israel pulled out in 2005, but less familiar with the historic events that led to that point.

    Friends from school showed her the Instagram feeds of several Palestinian journalists and she began reading Al Jazeera’s website. She saw photographs of Palestinian families buried in rubble and Gazan women holding their dead children. The carnage propelled her to act, she said. Mullen now wears a denim patch on her jacket that says “Free Palestine.”

    Last month, Mullen was among about 500 UMass students who protested the school’s connection to an arms manufacturer and demanded the school condemn Israel’s actions in the war. Roughly 100 lined the hallway outside the university chancellor’s office, draping themselves with Palestinian scarves known as kaffiyehs and sporting Palestinian flags and signs like “Stop U.S. Aid to Apartheid Israel!”

    A UMass Amherst spokesman said students were warned to leave or risk facing arrest when the building closed at 6 p.m.

  • Riaz Haq

    Arnaud Bertrand
    There's no overstating how extraordinary such a statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is, warning Israel it's heading towards "strategic defeat":

    "In this kind of a fight the center of gravity is the civilian population. And if you drive them into the arms of the enemy you replace a tactical victory with a strategic defeat."

    Essentially saying what is obvious common sense: you create more Hamas than you destroy by killing civilians. And as such what Israel has been doing so far is nothing but dig the hole it's in deeper and deeper...

    After, obviously, it's doing all this with Pentagon weapons and support in a myriad of ways, so Austin's words are pretty disingenuous... BUT they see Israel as their "unsinkable aircraft carrier" in the region so they must feel that were they to stop this active support it'd "sink" pretty quickly, which they aren't ready to do.

    Which actually goes to illustrate just how deep the hole Israel - and America - have put themselves in. The "unsinkable aircraft carrier" is taking water and needs constant US support to avoid sinking but the US is now telling them publicly - in very frank terms - that their actions are actually accelerating the sinking...