The Demographics of Israel and Gaza Protesters
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iSteve commenter Claudine Gay Groyper writes:

I’m currently a PhD student at Columbia, and I thought your commenters might be interested in some anecdotes/observations about what’s been going on at college campuses regarding the whole Israel/Palestine situation.

The iSteve/Takimag article “Are Jews Losing Control of the Media?” from 2015 I think still holds up hilariously well in terms of describing the dynamics at play with campus politics.

Anyways, here are a couple of personal observations…

One thing that’s immediately noticeable walking around Columbia this semester is the number of people in keffiyehs (the black and white checkered Palestinian scarf/headdress, like what Yasser Arafat used to wear). I don’t think I ever recall seeing a keffiyeh in person before this year. In a typical day this semester, I would pass maybe 10 or 20 people wearing one, and it’s hard not to catch on to certain demographic patterns.

My guesstimate is that like 80% of the people wearing keffiyehs on campus are women, which might seem surprising at first. This also fits with what I’ve been seeing in open letters by undergrads, where there’s a massive gender skew. Columbia is basically divided in three: Barnard (the women’s college), Columbia College (the arts and sciences school), and SEAS (the STEM/engineering college). Barnard had like 20 times more signatories to a pro-palestine open letter than the STEM school, and Columbia College which is like 50% male/50% female was somewhere in between.

Similarly the faculty open letter had a massive skew along sex/academic discipline lines. Columbia has a famous anthropology department (Margaret Sanger, Franz Boas, Zora Neale Hurston), and on a pro-Palestine open letter there were like 15 faculty alone who signed (similar for history/english etc.). For all STEM fields combined it was like two in total (since it’s disproportionately Chinese/Indian/White Male professors in those disciplines).

… One other topic worth discussing is the decline in Jewish students at elite colleges over the past 10 or 20 years. I’m not sure if this is definitely true (it might be a quirk of how the statistics are taken), but it seems plausible from what I’ve observed. One hypothesis I have is that it’s of a piece with the tiger mom phenomenon. In Daniel Golden’s “The Price of Admission”, which is the best book i’ve read on the topic, he says that generally at elite colleges about half of admitted students have some special hook (affirmative action/recruited athlete/legacies/children of mega donors) that gives a leg up in the admissions process and the other half are just regular students. As Asian applicants increasingly dominate the regular admit lane, my suspicion is that the remaining white students on campus are disproportionately athletes (soccer/hockey/football/baseball/olympic sports).

What’s the old joke about “Great Jewish Athletes” being the world’s shortest book? This means that there’s probably been a significant drop in Jewish and white enrollment at elite colleges in the general student body, but the white enrollment is masked a bit by the recruited athlete phenomenon (which is like affirmative action for chads).

One other funny phenomenon this semester has been the pro-Israel doxxing trucks that drive around campus. The trucks have a tv display of a students face (usually a woman/minority/muslim) with a caption like “one of Columbia’s leading antisemites”. The drivers of the trucks are usually hispanic guys who seem pretty bored/unhappy to be there.

Of course, the demographics of the pro-Palestine activists kind of complicates the “nazism surges 10000% on college campuses” narrative that the ADL has been trying to push. My guess is that if you tallied all the pro-Palestine protesters outside butler library it would be like 5% or lower white males, which means there probably aren’t too many Charles Lindbergh/Tom Buchanan/Nick Fuentes types with tiki torches and LL Bean khakis showing up to the pro-palestine protests (from what I’ve seen).

Overall, the hasbara effort seems to be falling flat. The memes that the Israel lobby are deploying may have worked on conservative boomers (or new republic readers) 15 or 25 years ago, but now they feel really outdated and don’t work on zoomers. One thing that’s pretty notable is how jewish many of the pro-Palestine protests have been. I would also guess a majority of the white students (if not a heavily disproportionate share) at pro-Palestine protests are actually Jewish. Some of the doxxing trucks have actually been blocked by groups of left-wing Jewish students (wearing rainbow/LGBT themed yarmulkes). Not making this up! A blue on blue incident if I ever saw one.

In early October, when things were just getting started I went over to the main quad/lawn area where there were competing demonstrations just to check things out. On one side were a bunch of pro-Israel students, and on the other were a bunch of pro-Palestine students (the pro-Palestine protest was much bigger). I stayed for some of the pro-Palestine speeches which were like Slam Poetry meets Wretched of the Earth meets Norman Finkelstein. It was pretty clear from the posters people were holding up that the discourse around this conflict had devolved into a kind of “look at this photo of a dead baby” style of moral reasoning. Even minimal self-awareness about the moral flaws of ones own side, and the concept of a beam in thine own eye seemed lacking in these debates.

To summarize, if you want to a vision of the future imagine the ADL and BLM issuing competing press releases about who should lead Starbucks’ racial sensitivity training—forever.

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