Bar Ilan Universtyi students college lawn hanging out 390.
(photo credit: Courtesy Bar Ilan University)
Sociologically, we can learn a good bit about the future moral compasses of
Americans as we look upon the causes they embrace while in college. Since the
mid-2000’s student activists have been preoccupied with anti- Israelism and
anti-Semitism based on the propaganda of those wishing for the destruction of
Israel, claiming it is a “colonialist,” “racist and apartheid”
Anti-Israel demonstrations and the BDS campaign struck
aggressively at vulnerable colleges both great and minor in an unsuccessful but
costly battle to sway young, impressionable minds that Israel was simply a bully
colonialist power picking on the poor unfortunate Palestinians. This is likely
to continue and although there may be some successes, clearly the movement has
been overall a failure.
Nevertheless, with the new year young students
are at a crossroads in terms of their social awareness and moral development.
They are going to have to make a declarative choice as to whether they are going
to continue to demonize Israel for its efforts to exist in a hostile
neighborhood or address the real moral outrages occurring in her Arab neighbor’s
countries where dictators, misogynistic sheiks and military leaders fight off
even more misogynistic and intolerant fundamentalist rebels, with all parties
only agreeing on the genocidal destruction of Israel.
Will the new crop
of students come to understand that regardless of who is doing the bombing and
gassing of civilians (either the regime or the rebels), it is wrong and deserves
protest and condemnation, and that those responsible must be held accountable as
called for in international agreements? Or will they continue to drink the
Kool-Aid of anti-Israel propaganda being pumped out by the very same forces
engaged in these war crimes? Students are young and impressionable and
anti-Israel forces know this. It is much easier to play into old anti-Semitic
canards in order to divert from their own internecine deadly struggles for
control and domination. Al Jazeera America reports on the injustices of American
policy regarding Guantanamo, while not quite examining the real internal issues
among Muslim factions seeking control of an ever-increasing caliphate, or their
complete disregard for human life, whether civilian or military.
Sudan, Ethiopia, Syria and other countries, hundreds of thousands, if not
millions, of people are being slaughtered, oppressed, starved or forced from
their homes by warring factions seeking to dominate and enslave the
These are not fights between democratic and totalitarian
forces. These are fights between totalitarian and even more totalitarian forces.
Will students remain quiet on these issues, while focusing on boycotting Soda
Stream and Ariel University? Although I am retired, I do hope my colleagues in
the academy, if they have any vestige of dignity and morality left, will look to
these comparisons critically this year as now they are in our collective faces
and conscience and must be addressed with moral clarity.
In the past, the
youth have pointed out when our moral compasses are off. That has not been the
case in recent years and it is my hope that this new academic year brings some
sanity, intelligence, reason and refocus on these issues of war and peace, human
rights, freedom and democracy. In this ever-increasing multicultural world, we
must look to universal precepts of morality, religion and law to guide us
morally, and not to scapegoat those who are being victimized by the real forces
of domination and totalitarianism.
The writer is a retired counselor and
psychologist educator, cofounder and president emeritus of Scholars for Peace in
the Middle East.