How different is 2024 campus protests in US from the one in 1968?

While the 1968 students’ upsurge in the United States was against the Vietnam War in which thousands of US soldiers and millions of Vietnamese perished, the 2024 movement on the campuses in protest against the one-sided massacre of mostly helpless women and children in Gaza are different.

Biden landed in Israel on October 18 after the October 7 Hamas attack which officially killed 1,200 Israelis, one-third of them soldiers, but not single American military personnel.

Never in history, a US President had rushed to the spot so quickly when not a single of his country’s troops was killed or wounded. It took more than two years for the US to join World War I and World War II. The US was dragged to World War II only after Japan attacked Pearl Harbour naval base on December 6-7, 1941. In that period of 27 months after September 1, 1939 (the start of WW-II) millions of Europeans, almost all fellow Christians and Jews were killed. Yet in the initial phase of hostility in the continent, the US had a good trade relationship with Adolf Hitler’s Germany.

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It is an undeniable fact that lakhs of Jews were killed in Germany, Poland Austria, Czechoslovakia, occupied part of the Soviet Union, etc before the US joined World War II. Is it not a fact that the US recognized the Nazi-collaborator Vichy government after the occupation of Paris by German forces in June 1940? And it was this Vichy government which was responsible for the massacre of 72,500 Jews in France during that period.

Joe Biden’s design

So, when Joe Biden flew from Washington to Israel to direct its corrupt, downright power-hungry, and cruel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on how to lead an operation against Hamas, he had no sympathy for the 1,200 Jews killed on October 7. He was rather keen on defending the most fortified bastion of the US and its Western allies in the Middle East.

Those who have even an iota of knowledge of European history know that Israel was created not for the sake of Jews, as is being made out, but as a larger gameplan of the Christianized Western imperialist powers. Here one should not confuse with several Christian countries of Africa and Latin America who are openly espousing the cause of Palestine and denouncing the US and its allies.

These Western imperialist powers have not only exploited the Jews, but the religious sentiment of Zionist Christians too. At the same time, they used the despotic dictators of the Muslim world, especially of neighbouring Arab countries, to consolidate their position.

It needs to be mentioned that Zionism is essentially a Christian concept, which was later thrust upon Jews in the 19th century. Joe Biden has several times in the last five decades publicly proclaimed that he is a Christian Zionist.

Matter of worry

What is worrying for the US establishment is that for the first time a sizable number of people, youths in particular, have started understanding the real design of the big and powerful in the country. Thanks to the information explosion they are calling the bluff.

Unlike in the case of the Vietnam War now the entire world is watching live how thousands of helpless Gazans are being butchered by the arms and ammunition supplied by the US and its allies and used by the Israeli soldiers. A couple of aircraft carriers of the US provided direct strategic support to the Zionist state.

The administration in the US fears that the public support for Palestinians may increase further as the images from Gaza are disturbing.

What is of greater concern for the administration is the fact that students are taking to the streets of the US when, unlike in 1968, there is no open involvement of American and other western soldiers, though they are secretly participating in the Gaza war.

In the 1960s the opposition to the Vietnam War started because thousands of US soldiers were sent to fight the war against the Communist regime of North Vietnam, which was getting the support of the Soviet Union. Many Americans were forcibly recruited for this purpose and sent to South Vietnam, which was a US base. Heavyweight boxing champion
Mohammad Ali was stripped off his title when in 1967 he refused to join the US army.

Apart from this, there were many human rights activists and Left-leaning and independent citizens’ groups in the US who were against the ruthless military campaign against North Vietnam. Some four to five million Vietnamese and 58,300 Americans lost their lives in over a decade-long bloodbath.

Protest in France

Besides, 1968 witnessed massive movement against President Charles de Gaulle of France leading to his ouster. As Vietnam was a French colony till 1954 the uprising in Paris and US cities has some link. President Ho Chi Minh, who later came to be known as the Father
of the Nation of Vietnam, had spent their early life in France. He was considered one of the founding members of the French Communist Party.

The French took to protest because of the over-involvement of American capitalists in the name of reconstruction of France after World War II.

How different this time?

But this time the nature of students’ protest, which enjoys the backing of academics and many others, is very much different. Those participating are not just Arabs and Muslims, but Christians and even some Jews as well as followers of other faiths and atheists. A serving US soldier went on to self-immolate himself.

The students are asking the US administration and universities to totally dissociate from the barbarity in Gaza for which one man is directly responsible—that is Joe Biden. Yet keeping in mind the coming election he is through diplomatic maneuvering pretending that he is helpless and that Benjamin Netanyahu is not listening. It has become a habit of the US administration to take the excuse of the Jewish lobby for supporting Israel. The fact is that the so-called Jewish lobby itself is a creation of the American establishment as it needs a cover to hide behind. True, there are Christianized Jewish lobby that backs Israel. But there are innumerable Jews in US and the West who oppose Zionism and are
stating that crime in Gaza should not be committed in their names.

It needs to be remembered that many Jews openly opposed the creation of Israel in the early part of the 20th century and even went on to call the Zionist movement a criminal act. Most prominent among those who criticized the Balfour Declaration was the British Secretary of State for India, Edwin Montagu, whose name Indian students of modern history always remember (Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms 1919). He was the lone Jewish minister in the cabinet.

There was no dearth of Ultra-Orthodox Jews who called the creation of Israel a sinful and blasphemous act as only a Messiah (and not the Western powers) can bring all the Jews to Palestine.

The fact is that Joe Biden can end war in Gaza with just one phone call as the then US President Dwight D Eisenhower did during the 1956 invasion of Suez Canal by Israel, Britain and France. Similarly, it was just a 10-minutes phone call by the then US President Ronald Reagan to Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in August 1982 which stopped the massacre of Palestinians in Lebanon.

Biden is not doing so, because of his Zionist roots.

Soroor Ahmed is the author of The Jewish Obsession, published in 2004.

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