According to a new survey commissioned by Brand Israel, support for the State of Israel among millennials is declining. While most respondents had a positive view of Israel, young people were more likely to view the nation state in a disapproving light.
Sadly, even Jewish-American millennials are not completely united with Israel. A 2013 Pew research study found that 40 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 29 feel no attachment to the State of Israel, and with the rise of anti-Israel Jewish leaders like Bernie Sanders, this number has likely grown.
One large influencer of anti-Israel sentiment is the media. As political strategist Fred Menachem observes in The Jerusalem Post, “the media has misinformed the American public by painting an unfair and often one-sided picture of Palestinian opposition.” This, he argues, has “played an integral role in perpetuating the myth that Israel is an evil and autocratic empire crushing anything and anyone standing in its way, especially the Palestinian Arabs.” Meanwhile, on social media, thinly-veiled anti-Semitic leftist groups have propagated a false narrative of Palestinians, painting them as the victims. Menachem also notes that Israel’s enemies have consistently linked words like “occupation,” “oppression” and “genocide” with the State of Israel.
Nowhere has this become more prevalent than on college campuses. Brand Israel’s survey found that favorability toward Israel fell 17 points among college students between 2010 and last year.
Of course, as The Hill points out, millennials weren’t around in the 60s and 70s, when Israel was under attack from all sides by its Arab neighbors, and academia has done a lousy job of educating students on Israel’s history. Instead, college students receive their lessons from radical Students for Justice in Palestine demonstrations, which have gained steam on campus during President Obama’s anti-Israel administration.
During his presidency, Obama tried to put the heat on Israel to divide Jerusalem and retreat to the indefensible pre-1967 lines. When they refused, Obama stopped backing Israel at the UN, and the president’s base stopped backing Israel in matters of public opinion. During this same time, the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement spread like wildfire on campuses across the nation.
Through their protests and intimidation tactics, Palestinian student activist groups have effectively shut down the free speech of Jewish students. In 2016, the AMCHA Initiative found that the number of incidents involving the suppression of Jewish students’ freedom of speech and assembly” doubled from the previous year, and that campuses with an active Students for Justice in Palestine chapter were seven times more likely to have incidents targeting Jewish students.
These so-called human rights activists have spurred a new wave of anti-Semitism that targets Jews because of their religion’s association with the Israeli state. A 2014 study by Trinity College found that over half of Jewish college students have endured anti-Semitism on campus. During the Obama administration, anti-Semitic rhetoric suddenly became acceptable when used in the name of human rights.
With Israel as our only dependable ally in the Middle East, any decline in millennial support for the Jewish State poses a major threat to the long-term future of this diplomatic and historic relationship. If this trend doesn’t reverse over the next few years, America could very well find itself on the wrong side of history.