Kristof: Campus Protests May Actually Backfire on Gazans

'NYT' columnist warns they may be more of a distraction than a tangible way to help
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2024 2:18 PM CDT
Kristof: Two Ways Protesters Can Better Help Gazans
Demonstrators clash with police on the UCLA campus, Thursday, May 2, 2024, in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

Nicholas Kristof has criticized Israel's conduct in Gaza as well as President Biden's support for the war, and thus "my heart's with the cause" of campus protesters, he writes in a New York Times op-ed. However, he worries that the protests—particularly the vandalism and reports of violence—will only distract from what's happening in Gaza rather than actually help Gazans. He draws a parallel with the Vietnam War protests of the 1960s, which he argues helped prolong the war rather than shorten it because of the political after-effects. As for the protesters' goal of divestment, he doesn't think that would hurt Israel and would instead only shrink college endowments and possibly result in tuition hikes.

"I don't mean for this to sound as sour as it probably does," writes Kristof, who urges students to continue to protest to demand change. But he also offers "two concrete suggestions" for students to better help Gazans:

  • Raise money for organizations such as Save the Children, Gisha, or International Rescue Committee, groups that are on the ground helping people there.
  • Raise money to send student leaders to live in the West Bank this summer "to learn from Palestinians there" and to engage with Israelis while entering or leaving. This would be "activism that isn't performative."
Read his full column. (President Biden addressed the protests on Thursday.)

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