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Do Most College Students Support Anti-Israel Protests?

Pro-Palestinian protests sweeping college campuses

A recent study from suggests that two in three college students support anti-Israel protests on college campuses across America. The study also indicates that many of these students favor the use of violence and hate speech to make their point.

My good friend, Bob Gatty, Lean to the Left founder, editor and podcast host, sent me the study and asked me what I thought. I did not mince words. I told him I thought the so-called “study” was garbage:

“Seven hundred sixty-three college students (the sample size in the “study”) is not a good sample size. Who are these students? What is their religious, ethnic, or socio-economic background? Many students have no idea about the cause of the war or what the real issues are. How were the questions phrased? If a student was asked, for instance, “Would a government-sponsored terrorist attack on your country justify that country’s seeking justice by military action?” how would the student respond?

Many protestors “follow the crowd.” According to the study, the anti-Israel majority is “sympathetic” to Hamas. This is a terrorist group that illegally crossed Israel’s border and slaughtered 1200 innocent civilians, including women and children, raping some of the women, beheading some of the children, and taking hundreds of people hostage. How can someone be “sympathetic” to that? The idiots responding to the survey don’t understand or don’t care who Hamas is, or were pro-Hamas in the first instance.”

Anti-Semitic tropes and built-in biases in advocating the “Palestinian cause” are nothing new. Hate speech against Israel is even quasi-advocated by the United Nations. Think I’m exaggerating? Listen to this powerful speech delivered to the UN by Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations. He excoriated the UN for condemning Israel for its war conduct while failing to condemn Hamas or countless other terrorist groups and countries for genocides against the innocent. Israel stands alone as the only terrorist attack victim ever condemned without condemnation or even mention of her attacker.

Does the UN condemn Ukraine for defending itself against Russia? Of course not! Would the UN condemn the Poles for defending the Warsaw Ghetto against the Nazis? Millions of Muslims have died in conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Chechnya, and elsewhere. Why is there no outrage for these deaths? Where is the UN in condemning the terrorists? Why are there no campus protests?

It is no leap to suggest that anti-Semitism is behind these decisions, the college protests, and even this so-called study. On top of it all, the Palestinian civilian casualty statistics from the Israel-Hamas are misreported by . . . you guessed it . . . Hamas! 

The UN recently reduced civilian casualty estimates by 50% due to false reporting by Hamas. The initial numbers reported relied heavily on information provided by the “Palestinian Ministry of Health.” Who controls the “Palestinian Ministry of Health,” you ask? Hamas! Did the revised figures change the UN’s posture on the war? No, another example of anti-Israel UN bias.

False Info Behind Anti-Israel Protests

How are students expected to make calculated and objective decisions about the Mideast war when bombarded with false information? Throw Jew hatred into the equation, and you get anarchy, hate speech, and violence on campus.

I’m not a fan of blaming the media when bad things happen to good people. However, in this case, the scope of these protests is overreported. According to a survey conducted by Axios, only 8% of college students have participated on either side of the protests.

The poll was conducted for political reasons. Axios gave students a list of nine issues to rank in order of importance for the 2024 election. The students ranked the Middle East conflict ninth or last behind health care reform, racial justice and civil rights, economic opportunity and fairness, education funding and access, and climate change. Furthermore, 34% of the students blame Hamas for the war, while 19% blame Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

When you break it down, if only 19% of 8% blame Israel, the number of anti-Israel protestors is minuscule when compared to the number of students on campus. Applying these numbers to the survey, even if the survey is accurate, 2/3 of 8% is also a minuscule number, about 5% of all college students.

Social justice for minorities and people of color in America is essential. We must work to ensure young people’s right to an education in an inclusive and supportive environment, free from bigotry of any kind.

While a First Amendment right to protest is equally essential, stereotypes, discrimination, prejudice, bias, hate speech, and violence must not be tolerated on any college campus, and those university and college presidents who tolerated hate speech and violence on campus in the name of free speech got it wrong.

Schools Must Work to End Bigotry

In our increasingly global society, we must improve our students’ understanding of other religions and cultures and do so in ways that reject bigotry. Despite the overreported numbers, it is undeniable that hate incidents, on or off campus, have dramatically increased since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, 2023. Jews, Muslims, and Arabs have long been targets of hate in America and other parts of the world. Schools at every level must address bigotry, be proactive, and take steps to emphasize inclusion in their curriculum.

Jew-hatred or anti-Semitism is, perhaps, the oldest form of bigotry. It crosses racial, ethnic, and political lines and is a driving force behind white supremacy and neo-Nazism. Anti-Jewish rhetoric and threats are not always blatant and are often coded, but ignoring them helps to spread the hate.

Depicting Jews as well-connected, influential, greedy, or obsessed with money are examples of old memes that reinforce the image of Jews as untrustworthy and exploitative. Holocaust denial, dual loyalty, and blood libel charges disrespect the memories of the six million, encourage mistrust, and perpetuate violence. The current hate speech and violence on campus, miniscule though it may be, must be addressed so that Jewish students feel safe and supported on campus, free to learn in a warm and welcoming environment.

Like most 72-year-old Jews, I’ve experienced anti-Semitism firsthand. My parents and, especially, my grandparents, had it much worse. My children and grandchildren have experienced hate and intolerance at reduced levels. The recent rise in anti-Semitism troubles this Jewish grandfather.

Students, parents, professors, and administrators must work together, peer-to-peer and parent-to-student, to create core curricula and an environment that encourages tolerance on campus. We are far better together.

Anti-Semite Next Door Cover

Please check out Mark Bello’s latest book, "The Anti-Semite Next Door," an exploration of antisemitism in the context of today's political environment.

Bello books

It's the latest in Bello's ripped-from-the-headlines legal thrillers, all available online at Amazon and other major online booksellers. He has quite the hero in Attorney Zachary Blake, who fights for justice on all fronts. His previous books are Betrayal of Faith, Betrayal of Justice, Betrayal in Blue, Betrayal in Black, Betrayal High, Supreme Betrayal, Betrayal at the Border, You Have the Right to Remain Silent, and The Final Steps – A Harbor Springs Cozy Legal Mystery. He’s also written a wonderful children’s book about bullying, “Happy Jack, Sad Jack,” and he's just released "Love Hate Law," a new legal romance novel. For more info, just check



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