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OPINION

Turning on Israel Means Rejecting Our Founding Values

Turning on Israel Means Rejecting Our Founding Values

Graffiti is pictured on a wall as pro-Palestinian demonstrators have occupied the Millar Library on the campus of Portland State University, in Portland, Oregon on April 30. (AFP via Getty Images)

Mark L. Cohen By Wednesday, 01 May 2024 10:56 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

The nation is perplexed and anguished over campus uprisings not only out of empathy for Jews and supporters of Israel, but because unabashed racism undermines the civility and respect essential to America's foundation and the values of democratic nations.

There are no simple, single explanations that are satisfactory. The complexity of what we are faced with can be as difficult to understand as the proliferation of cancer cells.

However,  several seemingly independent forces converge to fuel this mob violence.

The toxic political climate in the United States stifles reasoned debate, with universities losing their role as platforms for enriching exchanges. The Right's distrust in American institutions can be contrasted with the progressive Left's worldview, oversimplifying, social, and economic problems into the oppressed and their oppressors.

This generation of students furthermore faces frustration amid dwindling career opportunities, exacerbated by divisive politics and societal challenges, and a widening inequality in the distribution of wealth.

In many European countries similar factors are present, and also there is a division between those who believe that European civilization is being undermined by massive Arab Muslim immigration, and those who still believe that European Judeo-Christian values can be maintained as massive immigration continues.

These tensions existed and were growing before October 7.

Although they had no central rallying point they continued to escalate in a manner that focused on vilifying Western values. At leading American universities, it became commonplace to denigrate the ideals of America’s Founding Fathers.

At the same time, it cannot be over emphasized that America became infiltrated with foreign money that it is now becoming apparent was used to exert influence over American institutions of learning. Approximately the $14 billion of foreign investments were made in American universities, notably from Russia, China and others.

And America had as its proxy in the center of the Middle East, Israel, a country continually faced over decades with persistent accusations of colonialism, forgetting the movement was anti-colonial, and human rights abuses. There were more Security Counsel resolutions against Israel than against all of the most tyrannical and abusive regimes in the world combined.

The United States was almost alone in fighting against a massive worldwide consensus that made Israel the scapegoat for the complex, political and economic problems that have become more difficult to solve throughout the world.

Of course, the Jews historically were the whipping boys when they were tensions that displaced political tensions with fantastical, make-believe accusations of poisoning sells, and draining blood from little boys.

But with Israel becoming a strong nation and Palestinians a people that suffered and deprived statehood, the hostility took a political form in anti-Zionism, placing all responsibility for the plight of Palestinians on Israel. It is almost as if there was a segment of world opinion that fantasized transforming David of the Bible into a Goliath.

Then came October 7 when these decades of anti-Israel, anti-Zionist propaganda and lies were transformed into a level of rage that cannot any longer be justified as political anti-Zionism. The century-old European antisemitism came roaring out of the closet.

Israel/Palestine has become the symbol of angry mobs on university campuses to the point where the horrific Hamas aggressors were transformed into the victims.

How is one to explain that other victims in this world of deprived and persecuted peoples have suffered immeasurably greater suffering than the Palestiniens without motivating a gathering of 10 or 20 protesting students, other than that in this conflict it is the Jewish country that is depicted as the aggressor?

What protest did we witness when the upward of 300,000 Arabs were killed by the regime in Syria, the more than 1 million were murdered by Sadam Hussein, the more than 1 million Afghans were forcibly expelled from Pakistan, the persecution of more than 1 million Uyghurs in China, the tens of thousands of opposition leaders imprisoned in Iran? The millions in North Korea being starved by an oppressive regime?

How to explain that there was only a lukewarm sympathy for the Israeli victims of the October 7 massacre?

The reality didn’t matter that the Palestiniens suffered primarily as is the direct result of their own leadership failing to accept the creation of a Palestinian state and initiating aggression against Israel. Israel’s attacks and border closures have been in response to Hamas' unambiguous and clearly announced policy to target missiles to kill Israelis instead of using the Israeli withdrawal in 2006 as a basis for building an economically autonomous society.

The upshot of years of no solutions for generations of Arab refugees, was that world opinion never responded to the tens of thousands of rockets indiscriminately fired against Israel civilians.

There was absolutely no objection that international organization, notably UNRWA. taught Palestinian young people going down to the fifth generation that they have been deprived of their rights and persecuted by Jews. Not one credible political leader or organization claimed before October 7 that Israel targeted Palestinian noncombatants.

We have been victims of the Big Lie, as are Palestinians themselves, who were set up to be the victims of Jews.

When Joe Biden compared antisemitism in the United Sates with the Israeli war against Hamas and openly pressured Israel to prioritize protecting Palestinians over defeating Hamas, he gave rocket fuel to those who accuse Israel of genocide, the most defamatory and ugly manifestation of the Big Lie.

Almost unanimously, high-ranking U.S. military experts consider that Israel has killed fewer civilians per death of combatants than in any war in recent history.

The affront to objective truth ia exemplified by the ignorance of students. Is there any one demonstrator who knows that of the 58 camps where Palestinians are confined all 58 are in Arab countries?

There are none in Israel. There are four in Gaza. Is there any movement to help these persecuted Arabs, or do these poor souls not count because it is not Jews doing the persecuting?

Can any one demonstrator face the fact that among Arabs seeking asylum and refugee status in Western countries, there is not one Israeli Arab who has chosen to leave. The status of the Arab minority in Israel is exemplary.

Can any one demonstrator try and justify that throughout the Arab world there are no minorities that are tolerated, certainly not Jews who not even given the right to live in these countries.

How can it be that in the West no one seems to care about the persecution of Christians throughout the Muslim world?

Is any one demonstrator troubled by the fact that Iran is launching a massive missiles attack directed at Israeli civilians and it is a country that is homophobic, has imprisoned thousands of political opponents, executed in one year 853 political opponents and screams as it’s one political objective the destruction of another country in the United Nations.

Has even one demonstration been recorded on a college campus against Iran?

It is essential, however, to underline that the obsessional one-sided blame on Israel as an essential factor in the emergency mob anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic violence, does not, and should not, absolve placing a certain responsibility for the Palestinien situation on Israel itself.

And don't ignore the Israeli government mistakes that have contributed in too many Palestinians killed during the Gaza war. World problems are complex. It is unacceptable to view Palestinien radicalization as an excuse for Israeli government policy that avoided constructive steps toward finding a politically viable solution.

Irrespective of the multitude of media views on responsibility, it is nevertheless critical to conclude that when American students become an ally of Hamas, al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist organizations, we do not just cry for the Jews and the Israelis, but for America itself.

When Americans get caught up in the current of hatred against peoples and nations and turn their backs on America as an example of freedom and tolerance for the rest of humanity, they betray the nation itself, and also their fathers mothers and forefathers who built its greatness.

Mark L. Cohen has his own legal practice, and was counsel at White & Case starting in 2001, after serving as international lawyer and senior legal consultant for the French aluminum producer Pechiney. Cohen was a senior consultant at a Ford Foundation Commission, an advisor to the PBS television program "The Advocates," and Assistant Attorney General in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He teaches U.S. history at the business school in Lille l'EDHEC. Read Mark L. Cohen's Reports — More Here.

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MarkLCohen
The toxic political climate in the United States stifles reasoned debate, with universities losing their role as platforms for enriching exchanges.
israel. college protests, antisemitism
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2024-56-01
Wednesday, 01 May 2024 10:56 AM
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