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State of American History, Civics, and Politics

Will College Students Allow a Hamas-Israel Agreement?

Many college campuses have been convulsed in protests over the Israeli-Hamas war. The exact number fluctuates as new ones emerge and the police and/or college administrators quell the peaceable political discourse by taking students and outside agitators hostage. Presumably if tried and convicted in federal court they will be pardoned.

The mantras of the protestors are “river to sea,” intifada, genocide and various woke terms like “settler colonialism.” Many comparisons are made to the events at Columbia in 1968 given the school’s leading role in 2024 as a spark for the nationwide outburst.

But the parallels with Vietnam are not exact. In fact, there is a wide difference which needs to be explored. While the Vietnam War went on for years, involved many American casualties, and helped Richard Nixon squeak out a victory in the 1968 presidential election. The Democratic incumbent stepped down while his leading rival was the assassinated Robert Kennedy and not the gadfly Robert Kennedy, Jr. There remains a serious question to be answered. What happens if in the near future there is an agreement between Hamas and Israel even if only a temporary one?


If Israel and Hamas agree to a temporary cessation of hostilities and an exchange of prisoners, what will be the impact on protesting college students? For now, the protestors are parroting the phrases of Hamas (and Iran) in calling for the destruction of Israel. If instead, Hamas enters into an agreement with Israel, what is there to protest? If there is a cessation of violence and an exchange of prisoners, then the call for intifada or river to sea takes on a brand new meaning. How do you protest against Israel if Hamas has entered into an agreement with Israel? Such an agreement takes the wind out of the protestors’ sails. If Hamas decides to work with Israel in some way, what is there to protest?

There is an easy test between the disconnect of the desires of the Palestinians and those of the American students. When for a brief instant, it seemed as if peace would break out in Gaza even if only for a short period, what were the reactions? In Gaza, Palestinians were celebrating. They were dancing in the street. They have no love for Hamas and the war which Hamas initiated on its own to the detriment of the Palestinian people. By contrast, there was no such celebration on the campuses of American colleges. For the pro-Hamas students, a treaty will Israel that still leaves Israel in existence, is no treaty at all.


If the time line is extended, then the position of the protesting college students becomes even more precarious. Here are some things that could conceivably happen in the middle term if Israel realizes that when you are in a hole, stop digging.

1. An Arab peacekeeping force could replace the Israeli troops in Gaza (Tom Friedman). If the “occupying force” consists of other Arab forces then the call for river to sea, intifada, and genocide disappears. These Arabs will then train Gazans to be the local police. These Arabs will then help create a local infrastructure devoid of Hamas participation. All this is antithetical to the protesting college students’ mantras.

2. The security deal that was on the verge of being signed is now back in play. It would join Israel, the United States, and Palestine in an anti-Iranian collation. We have already seen how a coalition of western allies plus Israel and Jordan were able to dispatch the Iranian drones recently launched against Israel. A formal security agreement would signify that Iran has little wiggle room to affect a river to sea outcome.

3. As a result, Saudi Arabia would be joined more closely to the United States. This would include weapons purchases and a possible development of civilian nuclear power as Iran claims it is seeking to do now.

How could American college students protesting for the river to the sea accept these peace terms instead?


In the long term, people are now beginning to discuss in the long term for Gaza that is not based on the rule of Hamas. The idea of a long term involvement and shared oversight of Gaza is under discussion. The ongoing presence in Gaza of personnel from friendly Arab counties would permit the development and emergence of homegrown Gaza leaders free of the Hamas taint. It would make up for the years during which Hamas suppressed and oppressed the very people they claim to champion.

In this view, it is possible to imagine Gaza transformed from an isolated area it is today. It could become a Mediterranean commercial hub centered on trade, tourism, and innovation with the creation of a middle class no matter how farfetched it might seem at present (Peter Goodman, 4/30/24 NYT print). Such actions requiring decades would bring about the integration of Gaza into the global economy. The power of Iran would be reduced accordingly. The very presence of such long-term plans would undermine Hamas. It would demonstrate a long-term commitment to Gaza that is antithetical to the constant wars of Hamas. College students in the United States would be furious since such developments are contrary to what they espouse.


The fixation by the college students with Israel is revelatory. Students concerned about the violent abuse and murder of other people have plenty of targets in the world if only they would choose to look. For example, that other war involving the United States between Ukraine and Russia. Sudan is another.

But “woke” was designed to target the actions first of the Anglo countries – United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and South Africa (before) – and only secondarily other European colonial powers no longer in existence. It was not intended for other relationships. In this environment, Israel serves as a living proxy for all these countries and their now collapsed empires. For people who speak the language of colonial settler, Israel is the perfect target even though Arab Palestinians are not native to the land, they are not indigenous.

Remember how MAGAs refused to be vaccinated against COVID so as not to give Biden a win?

A similar scenario is playing out here. The more Biden puts the brakes on Israeli military expansion, the less the woke will be able to generate outrage for their agenda. The more the United States and its friends in the region act in concert to bring the fighting to a halt, the less the woke will be able to generate outrage for their agenda. The more the United States and its friends in the region act in concert to replace the river-to-sea rule of Hamas with plans to make Gaza a Hamas-free part of the West, the less the woke will be able to generate outrage for their agenda. By the time colleges resume in the fall, the situation will be very different than it is today.

The more leadership Biden shows in ending this phase of the conflict and presenting an alternative to Hamas, the more the outrage will dissipate … except for those students who want Hamas to continue to oppress, repress and suppress the Palestinian people.

One thought on “Will College Students Allow a Hamas-Israel Agreement?

  1. Interesting read. I’m not sure the force behind the campus cabal has any more interest in the river-to-the-sea mantra than they had in Black Lives Matter or in Occupy Wall Street before that. The Israeli Hamas war is a handy vehicle to advance their destabilize the West at any cost larger objective. Israel has the unfortunate job of having to deal with the very real tip of that spear. Any similarities between Israel’s neighbors and Western nations are merely inspired by commerce. They unlike Israel have no commitment to individual rights and so I’m not sure what lasting impact they’ll have in stabilizing a post war Gaza (Egypt administered Gaza until 1967). It would be nice to see the Middle East players from the western team coalesce around American influence, although I’m not sure anyone really knows who’s calling the plays much less what they are.
    We will undoubtedly see.

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