Overnight, the United States and other allies helped deflect hundreds of Iranian cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, and drones that rained down on Israel. As regional tensions continue to mount, the long-term support of the U.S. will be more critical than ever for the Middle East’s lone democracy. Waves of anti-Israel protests—coming from American campuses, in particular—pose an increasing threat to this support. Recent rhetoric from the State Department and the White House suggest that insistent demonstrators have shaken America from its firm support of Israel in its existential, defensive war in Gaza. This has encouraged Iran and groups like Hamas, whose primary goal is to destroy Israel and exterminate its Jewish population. 

College students are understandably horrified over war in Gaza and thousands of civilian deaths. Every innocent death is a tragedy. But they sidestep reality: the number of deaths in this defensive war is a fraction of victims killed, tortured, and imprisoned—with indefensible aims—by the Muslim leader of Syria, as well as leaders in Russia and China. Yet, American students are not chanting “Death to Syria!” They are not barring Russian professors or musicians from appearing on campuses. They are not calling for the bombing of Beijing. There’s no outpouring of outrage against the perpetrators of these ongoing massacres, which are far worse both in carnage and in objective.

As Iranian menace grows, it is critical that American university students confront the moral double standards that have led them to champion forces committed to death and oppression. And to recognize that there is no other name for this lopsided crusade than rank anti-Semitism.

Indeed, the skew in these conflicts and their aims is stark. In the second Chechen war, from 1999 to 2009, perhaps as many as 100,000 civilians were killed. Under relentless Russian bombing, the capital, Grozny, “became a ravaged moonscape,” writes New York Times correspondent Carlotta Gall. There were no safe corridors for civilians, no warnings of attacks, no procession of aid trucks from the UN. Almost all the victims were Muslim. Nor was the existence of the Russian Federation ever at stake in this conflict; the Chechens merely sought independence.

In the Syrian civil war that began in 2011 and continues today, more than 300,000 civilians and perhaps as many as 500,000—mostly Muslims—have died from ceaseless bombing, artillery fire, and chemical weapons attacks ordered by Syrian Bashar al-Assad and assisted or carried out by the Russian air force. The death toll includes “at least 14,000 people” who have perished by torture or summary execution in Syrian prisons. “By now almost every war crime and crime against humanity” has been committed in Syria, confirmed Paulo Pinheiro, chair of a UN commission of inquiry, adding that today nearly 17 million people in Syria are in need of food, water, and medical care. Here, too, Again, Assad is not battling to preserve his state’s existence, only his own murderous rule.

In China’s Xinjiang province, more than 500,000 Uighur Muslims were arrested and imprisoned between 2017 and 2021 as part of China’s Strike Hard campaign against Muslim religious practice and cultural identity—a campaign that continues today. 

One million Uighurs have also been subjected to “political re-education” that includes “arbitrary detention, torture, cultural persecution [and] forced labor.” The treatment of the Uighurs by Chinese authorities amounts to “a crime against humanity,” says the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Xinjiang’s 11.5 million Muslims are less than one-tenth of 1 percent of China’s population of 1.4 billion, so the Uighur struggle for Muslim religious practice and identity could not possibly threaten the security or existence of China.

In contrast to these deadly confrontations, Israel is the only state waging a defensive war for its survival.

Hamas’s codified goal is annihilating Israel, killing or exiling its 7 million Jews. That’s also the stated policy of Iran, a Muslim country of 89 million people ruled by the country’s foremost religious authority, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Khamenei is yet another Muslim leader responsible for the detention and torture of Muslim women protesters, and whose regime supplies money, weapons, and training enabling Hamas and Hezbollah to murder innocent citizens of Israel, the U.S., and other countries. Indeed, Iran’s act of naked aggression now confirms it to be a third source of direct attack, along with Hamas and Hezbollah, in the war of survival forced on Israel by the attacks of October 7.

The UN’s roster of 197 member states includes such violence-prone countries as Afghanistan, Haiti, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo—and such unrepentant violators of human rights as Myanmar, Syria, North Korea, Russia, China, and Iran. Yet Israel, a democracy whose Jewish, Arab, and Christian citizens enjoy freedom of speech, religion, and the right to vote, is the only country whose existence is still being challenged, 76 years after independence. Zionism was originally a movement seeking self-determination for Jews and their return to their historic homeland, similar to the independence movements in India, Poland, Ireland, Algeria, Brazil, and dozens of other nations. Today, Zionism is, at its core, an affirmation of Israel’s right to exist and of its role as a homeland for Jews.  

Unless American youth take a good look at the world around them, at all of the carnage, and consider the moral imperatives behind why and how a country wages war, they will continue to push geopolitical power toward forces driven to oppress and kill. They will put the United States itself into a weaker position in our ability to maintain our own freedom and act as a beacon and defender of freedom in the world. And they will expose to destruction countless more Muslim lives and sacred sites. Indeed, the only Israeli hurt by Iran’s barrage last night was a young Bedouin girl, who is fighting for her life in an Israeli hospital. At the same time, Israeli defenses dramatically intercepted Iranian missiles in the air above Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque—where Muhammad is held to have journeyed to heaven.

If they maintain such geopolitical myopia, America’s youth will become just the latest in history’s ponderous ledger of those too morally weak, too willfully ignorant, and too easily led by demagogues to do anything but campaign for dead Jews.

Photos: AFPTV/AFP via Getty Images (left) / Paul Weaver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images (right)


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