One of the Biggest Con Jobs in History: How Hamas Convinced America's Youth That the Palestinians are the Good Guys and Israel Is Evil
Within a few days of the deadly October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, the seeds planted and nurtured by a Hamas-backed anti-Israeli movement over the past 20 years came to full bloom in cities across America.
In Des Moines last Tuesday evening, three days after the Hamas attack, about 80 people gathered to support a call to end U.S. aid to Israel.
On a much larger scale, a day earlier at Harvard University in Boston, a coalition of 34 student organizations declared that they “hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence” following decades of occupation, adding that “the apartheid regime is the only one to blame,” the Jerusalem Post reported. More about this later.
At the same time, a national public opinion poll showed that support for Israel in the U.S. is one of the few issues that does not divide along political lines. Support for Israel was 77 percent among Republicans and 69 percent among Democrats, both strong numbers.
But there was a huge divide in support for Israel by age. Among those age 45 and older, 78 percent wanted the U.S. to take a publicly pro-Israel stand. Among those age 45 and under, however – which included the 27-year-old leader of the Des Moines rally, and virtually all of the Harvard student-group leaders – support for Israel dropped by 30 points, to 48 percent.
A surprising set of numbers? Not really.
It is the payoff for a little-understood, well-financed, large-scale public relations campaign that began without fanfare on college campuses almost 20 years ago – meaning that most of those under age 45 were exposed to it.
BDS. Otherwise known as Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions against Israel, a campaign cleverly and stealthily financed by operatives of organizations that have supported Hamas.
BDS demonstration, Times Square, New York. Photo by Carlo Alegri/Reuters.
The program was presented quietly at student meetings on college campuses across the country. On its website, BDS says it is “a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity.”
How nice. Who could disagree with that? No surprise that millions of American college students were persuaded to become followers of this organization’s beliefs and creeds.
Unfortunately, there is a lot more to the story of BDS, but you have to dig for it. It is what they do not tell you about the effort to use economic pressure against Israel that is truly scary.
The BDS movement pretends to support better treatment of Palestinians by Israel. However, the co-founder of BDS has said that what the organization really wants is the elimination of Israel.
BDS is luring support on the pretense that Palestinians are denied basic rights in Israel. Wrong. Palestinians and Jews in Israel have equal guarantees for such basic freedoms as speech, religion, voting, and holding public office.
BDS characterizes Israel as having engaged in ethnic cleansing. Huh? With 21 percent of its population being Arab, and with those Arabs having the same rights as Jews in Israel, how does ethnic cleansing fit into the equation?
BDS does not publicly recognize that Hamas is a terrorist organization that controls Gaza by sheer force and now has invaded Israel. BDS devotees believe the invasion was justified.
And that brings us back to the 34 student organizations at Harvard that held Israel “entirely responsible” for the murder of hundreds of Israelis – babies, children, the elderly, teenagers, entire families.
The day following the student declaration, Claudine Gay, three months into her job as Harvard President, issued a statement along with the university’s senior leadership, including 15 deans, saying they were “heartbroken by the death and destruction” unleashed by Hamas, but clearly failing to criticize Hamas.
The response was loud and clear and bipartisan. Former Harvard President Lawrence Summers, also a former Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton administration, said he was sickened by the response. It made Harvard “appear at best neutral towards acts of terror” against Israel, he said.
On the other side of the political spectrum, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and a Harvard Law graduate wrote on a social media platform: "What the hell is wrong with Harvard?"
And then, the monied forces at Harvard stepped up to the public microphone
Idan Ofer, an Israeli billionaire, and his wife, Batia, resigned from the executive board of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government because of a “lack of clear evidence of support from the University’s leadership for the people of Israel.”
Bill Ackman, a Harvard alum and hedge fund billionaire, meanwhile, directed his anger at the students, asking Harvard to post their names so that “none of us inadvertently hire any of their members.”
Left, Bill Ackman, Pershing Square Capital Website. Right, Claudine Gay, The Harvard Crimson, Juliuan J. Giordano.
There were some cries of demonizing students in response, prompting another CEO to respond: “What? You would hire an openly Nazi supremacist?”
And there you have it: Full circle, from the young people of 21st-century America back to the young people of Germany 85 years ago. It was the young, working class in Germany, that was the first to jump on the bandwagon of the Nazi Party. Hitler went after them by design. And it was the young people of America whom Hamas targeted in building an anti-Israeli machine in the United States. Some young people then and now may be or have been unrealistically idealistic and more easily accepting of proposed quick and easy-sounding solutions. Some may have lacked the maturity to dig deeply into complex situations.
But the Jews since World War II have developed a different outlook on threats to their security.
Originally published at firstname.lastname@example.org on October 17 under a different headline that failed to capture the substance of the column.
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