Elite Institutions Are Failing Our Kids
Israel, Gaza, Hamas and the identity crisis engulfing Generation-Z
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One of the most depressing things the Israel-Gaza conflict has revealed —apart from the utter brutality of Islamist terrorists, the idiocy of their supporters on the radical left, the failure of our hapless mainstream media to call this what it is, and the extent to which Western societies are incubating terrorist sympathisers— are the views and beliefs of our young people.
As I wrote last week, if you look at what the Brits think about the conflict then the most striking divide of all is not political but generational —young 18-24-year-old Zoomers from Generation-Z, born after the mid-1990s, are the least likely of all to sympathise with Israel and view Hamas as what they are: terrorists.
Now, this week, new polling by the reputable and reliable firm Harris-Harvard shows much the same is true in America. As I wrote on Twitter, young American Zoomers —who have been raised against the backdrop of 9/11, wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, and the continued expansion of the universities— hold some very distinctive and, in my mind at least, truly shocking views.
When asked whether they side more with Israel or Hamas, nearly half of American Zoomers, 48%, say they side more with Hamas —compared to 16% of all Americans.
When asked whether they think Israel is ‘justified in eliminating the Hamas government in Gaza which launched the terror attacks’, young Zoomers are the only generation among which a majority, 52% of them, say ‘no - Israel is not justified’.
When asked whether America should stand with Israel, back Hamas, or not be involved in the conflict at all, Zoomers are the least likely of all to say ‘stand with Israel’ (30%) and the most likely to say ‘back Hamas’ (29%), making them three times more likely than the average American (8%) to think this way. Put in other words, nearly one third of young Americans are openly backing Hamas in this conflict.
And when asked whether ‘the Hamas killing of 1,200 Israeli civilians on Israel can be justified by the grievances of Palestinians or is it not justified’, while just under one-quarter of all Americans think the killings ‘can be justified’, this rockets to more than half, 51%, among Zoomers —the only group to give majority support.
Such views have been on full display not only in the polls but also on mainly elite university campuses where an alliance of radical left academics, administrators and Zoomer students have been protesting against Israel and in support of Gaza while routinely ignoring, downplaying or even celebrating Hamas terrorism. As Gerard Baker wrote in The Times yesterday, reporting from America:
“Since the atrocities of October 7, there have been hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrations across America, the vast majority on the green pastures of university campuses, many nakedly antisemitic. In just the latest case, on Wednesday, Jewish students at the Cooper Union in New York had to barricade themselves in a library as fellow students banged on the doors and demanded “justice” for Palestine — something they seem to believe is best achieved by hurling slurs at young men in yarmulkes.”
So what’s going on? Some people will tell you the picture in the polls reflects how young Zoomers don’t really know what’s going on in the world —that their general indifference, apathy, or confusion is skewing their responses. But given how vocal they’ve been, especially in elite institutions, I don’t really buy this.
Others will tell you these views simply reflect ‘a life-cycle effect’, a tendency to be more radical when we’re young, which will soon wear off as Zoomers grow up, assume more responsibility, and become more conservative. But I don’t really buy that either, largely because of what I think is really going on beneath the surface.
What’s going on —as documented clearly in several recent books I discuss below— is that elite institutions in the West —the universities, the private schools, the creative industries, the cultural institutions—along with the prevailing culture they help shape and spread, have been hijacked by a radical identitarian politics.
A creed that is not just setting up our kids to fail but is rapidly dividing and weakening Western societies from within, leaving them far more vulnerable to the escalating identity-based conflicts we’ve seen erupt in recent weeks, not only in Israel but now also on the streets of Western cities. Let me set out the key features of this creed, what I think is going on, and some links to key reading.
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