Betty Ussach-Schwartz: How extremists co-opt protests

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Published: 05-16-2024 8:11 PM

It is at once encouraging that many college students have familiarized themselves with the barbaric attack upon Israeli citizens by Hamas and the disproportionate and horrendous responsive attack on Palestinians in Gaza, and are motivated to join demonstrations. But it is completely demoralizing when protests are co-opted by radical violent participants whose agenda extends to calls of annihilation of Jews or Muslims. If the protests were restricted to influencing Israel to cease all indiscriminate bombing of Gaza and for Hamas to release all remaining hostages, with an eventual two-state resolution it would be far more effective, and would deny extremists a platform to spew their violent racist rhetoric. Unfortunately, the protests have morphed into competing issues of academic freedom, infringement of other student’s rights and safety, the unrealistic expectations of what school administrators can do.

Perhaps the saddest result is that the municipal police departments are placed in a completely untenable situation, thus adding to the cry against imagined or exaggerated police brutality. It is not difficult to discern additional grievances that are motivating so many protesting students completely unrelated to the Middle East debacle. Outrageous cost of college, insufficient job opportunities in student’s fields of study, diminished freedom of choice, and almost daily exposed corruption in government, religious orders, academia, corporations, and unions, and most damaging of all is an almost complete breakdown in civil discourse. And when students observe the lawlessness, intolerance, hypocrisy and threatened violence by some of our leaders, emulative behavior is sure to follow. The result of the mixed agendas inevitably fails to effect the avowed purpose of a cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas and release of hostages.

Betty Ussach-Schwartz

Southampton

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