Birthright Israel must lower its age of eligibility from 18 to 16 — for reasons of national security.
At this point in history, America has few friends. Some older ones, such as the nations of Europe, though reasonably favorable towards America in their opinions, have become largely paralyzed politically and militarily by internal strife. Slightly newer allies, such as Japan, have emerged strongly in the stand-off with Communist China over its expansionist designs on the South China Sea.
Still, the allies with whom the United States shares deep common values are today even rarer — given Europe’s arrogant socialist impotence — and do not fully include the ethnically homogeneous and historically anti-individualistic societies of Asia.
Multi-ethnic, open, humane Israel, then, it seems is left as America’s most stalwart and crucial intimate — in a region whose culture and ideology besieges our own.
American support for Israel remains relatively high: nevertheless, this good fortune (62% overall as of Gallup’s poll of February 3 – 7, 2016) cannot be taken for granted. While unlikely to reverse soon or quickly, the future is not assured.
Youth support for Israel among Jews and non-Jews alike is 54%, a decent statistic. Within the Jewish population, however, there is less support. As of a 2013 Pew poll, only 30% of Jews believe themselves to be “very attached” to Israel, while youth support stands at an appalling 25%. Even more disturbingly, a 2016 survey displayed a dramatic drop in support among Jewish college students since 2010. Minority support is also plummeting.
Many factors are at play for these disappointing numbers, but the state of American education plays a leading role.
If Birthright Israel cares as deeply about Jewish affection for Israel as it has strived to do, then this problem is a reason for it to re-consider its age of eligibility.
All across America, high schools and colleges indoctrinate their charges with romantic support for Palestinian “resistance” to “occupation,” portraying Israel as a cruel colonial power, whose actions have forever undermined its Holocaust-cemented moral raison d’être. Professors of Middle East Studies at the most prestigious of universities bombard students with lies and partisan-socialist accusations against the State of the Jews, ranging from medieval-style blood libels of IDF soldiers harvesting the organs of dead Palestinians, to in-class claims that “Israel is …a colonial settler state.”
If professorial bigotry and indoctrination are not unsettling enough, then the powerful student group Students for Justice in Palestine should be the most disturbing threat of all.
Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), stretching across America with presences on 189 campuses as of this writing, is the creation of former members of the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA), an organization boasting more than 600 campus chapters. Founded in 1963 with extensive support from the Muslim Brotherhood (whose descendants include al-Qāi‘dah and Ḥamās), the MSA is mentioned as one among a list of 29 Islamist front organizations in the Brotherhood’s May 22, 1991 “Explanatory Memorandum.” Not surprisingly, more than a dozen former MSA members have participated in terrorist activities — Dzhokhar Tsarnayev the most recent poster child.
SJP, founded in 1993, is infamous for its anti-Semitic hatred for Israel and relentlessly aggressive protests. The organization AMCHA Initiative has compiled a comprehensive list of dozens of malicious disruptions of Jewish campus events dating back only to October of 2010. Not satisfied with threats and intimidation, fanatical SJP members gleefully stoop to acts of physical assault, from punches to deliberate rammings with full shopping carts. Their wide-spread presence has made life for pro-Israel Jewish students nearly unbearable. All opposing views are to beaten down into silence, with Zionist Jewish students meant to be meekest and quietest of all.
Decades of persistent Saudi and Gulf State donations to universities have also ensured a highly pro-Arab slant in university administrative policy. Loss of this rich cash flow frightens universities into stifling criticism of Palestinian terrorism and Arab societies’ repellant human rights records — crucial facts of world affairs about which ignorant students will likely never hear.
Jewish youth learning the truth about Israel before entering college is a matter of America’s national security for this reason: many are likely to be long-lost causes once they reach 18. Our educational system prepares the next generation of leaders and voters: citizens who, through indoctrination and intimidation, will be much more likely to support the racist, terrorist Palestinians rather than pluralistic, freedom-loving, pro-American Israel.
If the ensuing decades hold further decisions over greater waves of un-vetted immigration from the most anti-American and bigoted of societies — as well as legislative policies less supportive of America’s beloved comrade-in-civilization — these lost causes could show more support for them through both the ballot box and donations to political parties.
The reasons for American Jews’ lack of attachment to Israel are complex, but the radically anti-Western educational system, of which Jews have been such an influential part, both in its creation and as products of it, is a terrible culprit.
Jewish youth’s 1-in-4 rate of support for Israel must be raised if future Jewish political and financial support is to stream towards pro-American rather than anti-American causes, as Israel is such a critical part of U.S. national and foreign policy interest.
The costly prospect of managing rambunctious, hormonal teenagers on international trips may be understandably daunting in the short run, but in taking on this challenge, Birthright, not to mention this country, has the opportunity to reap great benefits in the future. Battling anti-Semitism in all its habitats is inextricably linked not simply to Israel’s but to America’s security.