There has always been an anti-Israel presence in the American left, but it’s previously mostly been on the fringe. Now it seems that it may be becoming mainstream among liberal millennials (people reaching young adulthood around 2000). I recently experienced this at the All Souls Procession, one of the largest events in Tucson.
Although the procession is based on Catholic-Mexican tradition, it’s a secular arts event for people to honor loved ones who have passed. It draws over 100,000 people to downtown Tucson for the colorful two-mile procession. I’ve attended the last several years with my now 13-year-old son.
The procession includes various groups marching for progressive political causes, such as protesting the murder of transgender people and honoring AIDS victims. This year, about 20 young people marched for the Palestinian Victims of Israeli Violence. (I asked them if Palestinian lives were worth more than Israelis. They said I shouldn’t be asking that.) I was concerned that their presence in the procession means the anti-Israel cause is being lumped in with the others.
A Gallup poll this summer found that 55 percent of Americans over 65 believed Israel’s actions against Hamas were justified. That was reversed for 18-29 year olds; 51 percent believed that Israel’s actions against Hamas were unjustified.
According to a recent Anti-Defamation League report, more than 90 anti-Israel events have taken place on U.S. college campuses this year — double the number during the same period last year.
The situation in the Middle East is complicated and all actors can be criticized. I realize that anti-Israel groups have the absolute right to march in events like the All Souls Procession and be on college campuses. But there needs to be an effective pro-Israel campaign to counter these groups. Millennials will not be in their 20s and early 30s forever, and diminished American support for Israel in the future could be catastrophic.
— Tony Zinman