“When I was in school,” recalled Republican pollster and right-wing propaganda consultant Frank Luntz, “there was no opposition to Israel whatsoever.”
But today, he warned, “schools across the country have tremendous challenges” because young people are dramatically more liberal, increasingly hostile toward Israel and more sympathetic to Palestinians.
To defeat BDS, Luntz concluded that Israel’s supporters must adopt language that appeals to the campus left.
Luntz was speaking on 31 May to a packed conference hall at the United Nations headquarters in New York, where the Israeli mission to the UN and the World Jewish Congress hosted the first international #StopBDS conference.
An estimated 1,500 people, many of them college aged, attended the summit to learn and discuss strategies for crushing the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement burgeoning on US college campuses.
Speak young, speak left
To illustrate his point, Luntz presented polling he said was taken within the last 90 days showing attitudes toward Israel and the Palestinians among US college students.
He was most troubled that only one in three students considers themselves pro-Israel. Almost a quarter of students support Palestinians over Israel and 39 percent think Israel should return all Israeli land to Palestinians.
Forty-three percent favor boycott as a means to pressure Israel to respect Palestinian rights and 44 percent – almost half – view Israel as an apartheid state.