Student Protests Over Biden’s Israel-Gaza Policy Becoming Too Loud to Ignore

Published: 5 May 2024

London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s historic third win today represents significant gains due to declining Conservative support and widespread disapproval of Islamophobia. His victory was anticipated as he seemed poised to achieve this historic feat. I wrote about this earlier. Rishi Sunak can clearly see British voters denouncing his party. Unless he changes his policies on Israel-Gaza, along with addressing other socioeconomic issues, no one can prevent his fall. His close ally, President Biden, is also facing unprecedented criticism in his own country.

As tensions in the Israel-Gaza conflict continue to escalate, President Joe Biden finds himself under increasing scrutiny both at home and abroad for his administration’s policies towards the crisis. While the President has consistently voiced his support for a peaceful resolution, his actions have been met with scepticism and criticism, particularly from an unexpected quarter – students at elite American universities.


U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration appears ensnared in a troubling paradox. While advocating for peace and a “sustainable calm” in the region, Biden concurrently authorises substantial military aid to Israel, thereby fuelling debates about the integrity and impartiality of U.S. foreign policy.


The crux of the critique stems from the glaring juxtaposition of Biden’s verbal endorsements of peace against the backdrop of ongoing military support to Israel. In the fiscal year 2021 alone, Israel received approximately $3.8 billion in foreign military financing from the United States, a substantial portion of which is inevitably intertwined with the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This potent mix of diplomacy and militarism casts a shadow over Biden’s avowed commitment to fostering peace.


In recent weeks, campuses across the United States have been rocked by protests and demonstrations as students demand that their institutions divest from companies that support the Israeli military. From Harvard to Yale, young activists have staged sit-ins and rallies, arguing that by investing in these firms, their universities are complicit in the suffering of Palestinians and the perpetuation of the conflict.


The students’ actions reflect a growing unease among many Americans, particularly younger generations, with the United States’ unwavering support for Israel. Critics argue that by continuing to provide military aid to Israel, even as the death toll in Gaza mounts, the Biden administration is undermining its own calls for peace and stability in the region.


This sentiment is not limited to the United States. Internationally, many have pointed to the apparent double standard in President Biden’s approach to the conflict. While the administration has been quick to condemn the actions of Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups, it has been more measured in its criticism of Israel’s military response, which has been widely condemned as disproportionate and indiscriminate.


The President’s decision to approve the sale of $735 million in precision-guided weapons to Israel, even as he calls for a ceasefire, has only further fueled accusations of hypocrisy. For many, it is difficult to reconcile the administration’s stated commitment to human rights and international law with its continued military support for Israel.


The growing domestic and international criticism of U.S. policy towards the Israel-Gaza conflict raises the question of whether this pressure could lead to a significant shift in American foreign policy. Historically, the United States has been one of Israel’s staunchest allies, with successive administrations providing billions of dollars in military aid and diplomatic support.


However, there are signs that this unconditional support may be starting to waver, particularly among younger Americans. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that a majority of Democrats and those under the age of 30 now favour applying more pressure on Israel to resolve the conflict, a marked shift from previous years.


Whether this growing domestic awareness and criticism will translate into meaningful policy changes remains to be seen. The pro-Israel lobby remains a powerful force in Washington, and many American politicians have deep ties to Israel that may make them reluctant to take a harder line.


Nevertheless, the Biden administration cannot afford to ignore the growing chorus of voices calling for a more even-handed approach to the conflict. As the protests on American campuses demonstrate, there is a growing appetite among young people for a foreign policy that prioritises human rights and international law over narrow geopolitical interests.


If the United States is to maintain its credibility as a broker for peace in the Middle East, it must be willing to hold all parties accountable for their actions, including its closest allies. Only by adopting a more balanced and principled approach can the Biden administration hope to break the cycle of violence and suffering that has plagued the region for far too long.