AS`AD AbuKHALIL: Zionism Has Lost Young America

Nobody really believes there’s a threat to Jewish students on campuses or that pro-Palestinian students are subjecting their Jewish classmates to abuse or harassment.

A speaker at a major protest in Brooklyn, N.Y., on July 1, 2020, against threatened Israeli annexation of the occupied West Bank. (Joe Catron, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

By As`ad AbuKhalil
Special to Consortium News 

A specter is haunting U.S. college campuses, and it is the specter not of anti-Semitism but of opposition to anti-Semitism. 

No one would object to fighting hate, particularly the ancient form of hate against Jewish people, if the movement against anti-Semitism were truly about combating anti-Semitism. 

But the battle on college campuses is instead unmistakably a political battle directed against Palestinian activism and nationalism.  This has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. Instead Zionists hurl charges of anti-Semitism around to police speech and ban expressions of pro-Palestinian nationalism. 

When the the Anti-Defamation League counts rallies protesting Israeli genocide as examples of anti-Semitism, you know that it is not about anti-Semitism  anymore.  It’s about an attempt by a pro-Israel group to shield Israeli aggression and occupation from criticism.

The Change on Campus

The shape of student activism on college campuses has changed; the struggle for Palestine is no longer confined to Arab and Muslim students. To be sure, the movement historically did attract progressive Jewish students, but the movement was composed largely of Arabs and Muslims.  

In recent years, American youth have been moving away from Democratic Party politics, instead embracing Third-World-style progressiveness.  Furthermore, the Black Lives Matter movement has adopted Palestine as one of its causes and that supplied the Palestinian movement with a current of local domestic radicalism.  

Black Lives Matter demonstration in Berlin, June 24, 2017. (Montecruz Foto, Creative Commons: Attribution Share Alike)

BLM was able to identify the racist impulse in Zionism — years after failed attempts by Palestinians and their Arab supporters to make that case.  Zionist founders were never shy about their contempt for the natives and their belief in the superiority of Israelis vs. Arabs.

Books and articles were produced in Israel or in the West by Israelis to show the genetic inferiority of Arabs.  The notorious book, The Arab Mind, has never been out of print and is still used in the West and Israel as a manual on Arab political and social behavior. 

The intersectionality of Palestine with American radical movements propelled Palestine, for the first time in its history, into American progressive causes. 

Yet, Democratic liberals and mainstream feminists — like the National Organization of Women and Feminist Majority — remain solidly behind Israeli mass violence.  To date, NOW has released only one statement about Palestine; and it was to condemn Hamas.

Zionism’s Colonialist Context

Delegates at the First Zionist Congress, held in Basel, Switzerland, in 1897. (Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

Zionism would not have been launched without the context of Western colonial thought and practices.  The first document of the Zionist Congress in 1897 did not shy away from using the word colonialism.  And you need a thrust of racism to be able to justify the establishment of a Jewish state on a land with a majority of non-Jews. 

Just like South Africa, the Zionist project was predicated on the belief in the inferiority of the subject race. It is this element in Zionism which allowed progressive minorities in the U.S., and some whites, to identify with Palestinian outrage at Israeli racism and subjugation. 

The debate that has taken place in Congress and on op-ed pages of U.S. newspapers is misleading.

Nobody really believes there’s a threat to Jewish students on campuses or that pro-Palestinian students are subjecting their Jewish classmates to abuse or harassment.

And surely nobody really believes a Palestinian lobby has taken over Congress, the U.S. media and university administrations. 

[See Academic Freedom Under Fire as Gaza Burns;  Zionist Suppression in Congress and PATRICK LAWRENCE: Gaza & Confronting Power]

The contrived debate revolves around the realization by Zionist organizations that they’ve lost young people in the U.S.  Public opinion surveys show this demographic is quite clearly on the side of Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation.

Thus losing American youth has led to a counterattack by supporters of Israel.  

Students in New York protesting in support of Gaza outside the Israeli consulate on April 29, 2015. (Joe Catron, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

[WATCH: Anti-Genocide Protesters Arrested at US Capitol]

Israel supporters aren’t debating the facts of the conflict and aren’t even providing justifications for the genocide in Gaza.  Instead, they are branding all manifestation of pro-Palestinian activism as anti-Semitism. 

This is a backlash that is likely to continue and is also destined to fail. Israel’s massacres speak for themselves, despite the propaganda attempts to whitewash them. 

“Supporters of Israel are not debating the facts of the conflict and are not even providing justifications for the genocide in Gaza.  Instead, they are branding all manifestation of pro-Palestinian activism as anti-Semitism.”

No examples of anti-Semitic rhetoric by pro-Palestinian students have been produced as evidence, because there are none.

The slogans being chanted across the country refer to Palestinian national aspirations of freedom. “Free, free Palestine” is the most oft-chanted phrase in demonstrations.  But Zionist organizations have suddenly decided the word “intifada” (Arabic for uprising) implies genocide against Jews.  

Intifada — Against Arab & Muslim Governments

The word has been applied repeatedly by Arabs since the 20th century to refer to political movements and revolts against Arab and Muslim governments. The usage long preceded that of the Palestinian intifada of 1987.  

Iraqi contemporary history is replete with intifadas against the British and later against the ruling governments. Nobody ever charged Arab rebels with genocidal intent when they revolted against Arab governments. 

Similarly, Egyptians referred to their January 1977 revolt against the cruel economic policies of President Anwar Sadat (the West’s favorite despot, despite his anti-Semitism) as the “January Intifada” while Sadat later dubbed it “the Intifada of thieves.” 

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The other slogan under fire is “from the river to the sea,” which simply denotes the geographical area from which all Palestinians originally hail. 

Would Israel and the U.S. prefer Palestinians to say: “From Area A to Area B, under Oslo,” or limit the historical imagination to fit the narrow parameters of a Palestinian entity within less than 20 percent of historic Palestine?

That’s impossible. Palestinians can’t deform their own history to allay the fears of Israelis; they also can’t tailor their slogans to satisfy the concerns of Zionist groups in the U.S.. 

It is not true that this slogan about historic Palestine entails the expulsion or murder of Jews. No such demand has ever been voiced by any Palestinian political group since 1948. 

The Palestinian Liberation Organization’s charter was very clear in demanding a state in all of Palestine, but it never proposed to murder Jews; similarly the Hamas charter of 2017 makes no such reference and even talks about confining its enmity toward Zionism and not toward Jews as Jews. (Hizbullah made a similar clarification in its political document from 2009).  

“Israel and U.S. would like the Palestinians to say: ‘from Area A to Area B, under Oslo,’ or to limit the historical imagination to fit into the narrow parameters of a Palestinian entity within less than 20 percent of historic Palestine.”

It’s understandable that Zionist groups in the U.S. are desperate; they are quickly losing support among young people in general, and college campuses in particular. 

The Israeli cause that was once “cool” among Western youths, has become the most “uncool” of causes, while Palestine has captured the imagination of young people worldwide.  

Social media has become the driving force transforming world public opinion. Before it, Israel committed its crimes quietly away from the cameras. 

In 1987, the late U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger advised the Israeli government to expel media from the West Bank before using use force to quell the uprising there.  

The ability of Zionist groups to control the narrative in the leading media has been undermined by virtue of the proliferation of social and independent media. It can’t be muzzled.

Pressure can no longer impose the narrative Israel has insisted upon since 1948.  Young people today share graphic proof of Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity.  

In a futile attempt to return to the pre-social media era, Israel has come up with the idea that anti-Semitism needs to be redefined to include all expressions of protest for Palestine and any manifestation of opposition to Israel and its crimes.  

Western governments are going along with Israel’s new definition. But they failing to impose it on society, especially when Jewish groups (like Jewish Voices for Peace) and Jewish individuals (such as U.S social scientist Norman Finkelstein, journalist Max Blumenthal, Israeli historian Ilan Pappé, among many others) are in the forefront of pro-Palestinian campaigns.  

Young Palestinian Women’s Fierce Leadership 

Protester outside annual AIPAC meeting in Washington, March 20, 2016. (Susan Melkisethian, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Activism for Palestine in the U.S. has changed markedly from my days as a student in the 1980s.  Arab groups back then were very cautious and their male leaders were easily intimidated by Zionist groups. Many would get flustered when asked if they recognized the state of Israel.  

Today, the leadership of the movement is spearheaded by young Palestinian-American women who can’t be intimidated. They are fierce in their rejection of Zionist pressure tactics.  Israel has a major problem with these brave women and doxing and other methods of defamation and vilification are being wielded to stigmatize and marginalize them.  

But Israel’s problem is much bigger than a PR matter.  It’s problem is that it is a colonial, racist state resorting to tactics of 19th century colonial powers in an age of 21st century new media.  

Israel has become an anachronistic entity which does not fit within the modern norm of expected decency, humanity and international law: and all those ideals are blatantly violated and trampled upon by Western powers who continue to support Israel.  

Ultimately Israel can’t win militarily against the Palestinians and it has already lost the media war. This has been made clear by a U.S. president, who never fails to remind us that he is an unabashed Zionist (which makes sense given his checkered history when it comes to race). 

The notion that pro-Israel groups can bully and muzzle American students, led by young Palestinian women, reveals a deep ignorance of how far they have gone to lose the youth of America. 

As`ad AbuKhalil is a Lebanese-American professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus. He is the author of the Historical Dictionary of Lebanon (1998), Bin Laden, Islam and America’s New War on Terrorism (2002), The Battle for Saudi Arabia (2004) and ran the popular The Angry Arab blog. He tweets as @asadabukhalil

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

Views expressed in this article and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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16 comments for “AS`AD AbuKHALIL: Zionism Has Lost Young America

  1. Jim Thomas
    December 14, 2023 at 19:01

    Thank you for writing this articulate and truthful analysis of the facts relevant to the Zionist attack on those of us who are advocating for justice for the Palestinians and other non-Jews in Palestine. By caving to this dishonest pressure applied by the Zionists and their propagandists, Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania have shown that they have no intellectual honesty and no integrity. If I had a child of college age, I would not want my child to attend any of those institutions or associate with them in any way. It comes as no surprise that they are primarily concerned with collecting donor money rather than serving as legitimate academic institutions. It also comes as no surprise that the totally corrupt U.S. Congress has almost unanimously passed a resolution repeating the blatant lie that protests against Zionist are, ipso facto, anti-Semitic. Was that done because almost all our Congressmen and Congresswomen are ignorant or because they are dishonest? I answer yes to both possibilities.

  2. Arnaldo Langa
    December 14, 2023 at 12:25

    When seeing the unfolding genocide is befalling on Palestine people, I find myself compelled to re-read the history of the holocaust…

  3. lester
    December 14, 2023 at 11:30

    Christians Zionists (Dispensationalists) are the biggest enemies of the Palestinians. They want an Jewish state to build a temple, so the anti-christ can defile it and bring Jesus back. All Jews who don’t turn Christian somehow get killed.

    Take it for granted that a LOT of Congresscritters share this view or want the votes of thos who do.

  4. lester
    December 14, 2023 at 11:26

    Probably Evangelicals trying to convert Jewish students is more likely, more annoying.

  5. Colden G.
    December 14, 2023 at 11:14

    I’ll try to link a declassified report that some readers may find relevant to our current political situation in the region.


  6. December 14, 2023 at 06:17

    The racism and arrogance of some Zionists, especially those in power is palpable. Israeli Ambassador to the UK Tzipi Hotovely has recently, on Sky TV, took the mask off. She said that there should not be a two state solution. This is what Israeli politicians knew for decades but no one dared to say it to an English international audience. Whether it is the incompetence or arrogance of Hotovely, I hope this will not cause confusion or embarrassment to the octogenarian US President who is apparently pushing for a two state solution.

    • Guy St Hilaire
      December 14, 2023 at 18:09

      I would agree with one state .Call it Palestine .Or whatever name would suit ,how about the The Holy Lands .Let every one be given a new passport as citizens of this new state .All citizens to be deemed equal .Equality for all instituted with respect for all citizens.All citizens that owned property before the Nakba be given their rightful ownership of the property that was taken away from them .It would only be fair or restitution for their losses.Lord knows the debates would keep everyone busy for centuries as no one would want to give up what they took by force.
      I am on in years and have read and watched this occupation for many years .Please excuse my bias .

  7. Joy Al-Sofi
    December 14, 2023 at 03:19

    “ Activism for Palestine in the U.S. has changed markedly from my days as a student in the 1980s.”
    Perhaps you can imagine what my days as a student were like in the 1960s, after I basically stumbled into learning about what was going on. I was the only one in this. Things have changed. I am no longer alone. “Truth will out.”

  8. firstpersoninfinite
    December 14, 2023 at 00:07

    Well, it should all be simple really: if you are superior to another group of people, then let that other group of people live in peace while you wallow in your superiority. If you can’t wallow in your superiority, then you are obviously not superior. The need to take over other territories and subsume a population which can’t belong to you alone in the first place is an obvious sign of an inferiority complex. Otherwise, you would create emblems of cultural superiority within your own boundaries, and couldn’t care less about those “vermin” living nearby. And why doesn’t this logic work? Because one of the players involved doesn’t think it should be questioned about what it does to fulfill its neurotic impulses. And then it leeches money from larger governments to make certain that its largess to those who represent those same governments doesn’t go unnoticed or unrequited. I mean, after all, “they wouldn’t support us unless our money and influence meant something to them,” right? And so the circle turns, and the innocent are destroyed and the world itself blighted.

  9. CaseyG
    December 13, 2023 at 19:24

    What Israel is doing to the Palestinians seems so much like what white Americans did to the Native Americans. And not just Native Americans but also how America in past history treated African Americans , the Chinese and Hispanic people as less than white people . Sadly it seems that those long ago prejudices against other people and nations lives o n and on. : (

    The fact that Biden and Blinken seem not to see Palestinians as human beings who are being treated as less than human is horrifying too. Sadly , Joe Biden, this is why so many will not vote for you, as you ignore what is happening to the Palestinian men, women and children.

  10. James P McFadden
    December 13, 2023 at 17:16

    The double standard in Israel’s false characterization of “from the river to the sea” as a call for genocide against Jews becomes apparent when you see Netanyahu using maps to claim all of Palestine for Israel “from the river to the sea” as he did in a UN speech weeks before the latest troubles.
    The projection of Zionist intents on the Palestinians, and their fear that Palestinians might do the Zionists what Zionists are doing to Palestinians, seems to be a mirror image of what US white supremacists fear about, and project onto, POC. The youth here have figured it out the racist roots of oppression, apartheid, and settler-colonialism — as is well described in Edward Said’s “Orientalism.”
    The world’s “Israel Problem” — finding a way for world to stop the genocide and ethnic cleansing in Gaza and the West Bank — will likely require a change in the US ruling elite’s plans. Don’t expect change coming from Israel, as is well characterized in this 2015 speech by Israeli Gideon Levy describing intentional Israeli ignorance to the plight of Palestinians – worth watching.
    Only when the US threatens withdrawal of funding and weapons will the killing of innocent children, women and civilians by Israel finally end. And this will only happen when the US ruling class feels they are losing their grip on their hegemony both at home and abroad. When protests get big enough here at home (and they grow every week), and when the US finds itself isolated from the vast majority of the world (as UN votes indicate), then the US ruling class will demand Israel to stop. And if Israel doesn’t obey its benefactor, its war and its economy will collapse, and the end of Israel’s apartheid state will be forced on it. The big concern is what will the Zionists do when cornered. That has never happened for a nuclear regime.

  11. Rafael
    December 13, 2023 at 15:14

    “the modern norm of expected decency, humanity and international law” huh?

    • December 13, 2023 at 21:38

      Good question. You won’t find it here

    • Asad Abukhalil
      December 13, 2023 at 21:53

      I should have said: the expected falsely declared norms of etc

  12. mary-lou
    December 13, 2023 at 15:13

    it is all part of divide et impera: what are ‘Jewish students’? there should only be smart and not-so-smart students on campus.
    great picture of the first Zionist congress: all men. were there no women zionists?
    ‘Jewish’, like ‘French’ or ‘German’ and ‘Swedish’, etc, is an adjective describing a cultural concept; zionist/zionism a political category.

    • Guy St Hilaire
      December 14, 2023 at 18:38

      Very astute comment MaryLou .One I wholeheartedly agree with .Zionism which is a relatively new ideology or ,concept if you will , and relatively recent .Late 1800s and intrinsically nationalistic .Gods chosen people and another nation that adopted such concepts not too long after. The superiority of the white blue eyed race .If memory serves me ,that did not turn out very well .
      I am white and a blue eyed Christian by the way lest anyone send labels my way .We all live on this beautiful planet and we all belong to the human family .It is high time we started to act as a family ,with respect .IMHO it how it was meant to be .

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