From the day fighting broke out on Oct. 7, the Israeli and U.S. governments and the Western press have been on a mission to justify the slaughter of Gaza residents by demonizing Hamas and, by extension, the Palestinian people. From being called “terrorists” to being labeled antisemitic, Palestinian liberation activists have been smeared nonstop by the corporate media.
These distortions are starting to be in vain because millennials and Gen Z’ers are starting to see through the lies, the slander and the nonsense that is Zionist propaganda. This development has the potential to turn into a mass awakening against U.S. foreign policy similar to that of the 2016 election, which shifted popular opinion towards socialism.
In 2016, the U.S. working class was in a bad way. We were several years removed from the worst economic downturn since the 1930s. Young college graduates were struggling to find gainful employment, and the ones that did were constantly drowning in debt, whether from student loans or credit cards. Home ownership was a pipe dream, as highly educated young professionals were forced to live in cramped spaces with roommates while paying ridiculous amounts in rent.
Having decent health care coverage was like having a Beamer, a Benz and a Bentley all at once. Former President Barack Obama lured millions of millennials to the voting booth with the promise of hope and change. He did nothing to make good on his promises, and wound up continuing many of the same draconian, neoliberal policies that have been sucking the working class dry. No debt relief, no free college, and a limited rebrand of the health care proposal Richard Nixon conjured up in the 1970s.
With no fundamental change following the election of Obama as the first Black president, many millennials checked out of the two-party duopoly and became apolitical. What is the point of exercising one’s right to vote if all their other rights were not guaranteed, such as the right to gainful employment and stable housing? These questions were pondered as millennial voter turnout fell far below that of other generations.
Trump election radicalized a generation
As the 2016 election rolled around, the Democratic Party served up its usual slop of unappealing and uninteresting candidates. They tried to hide the fact that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was just as imperialist as any male candidate, but nevertheless it was the same Democratic Party that was moving further and further right since at least the 1990s. This inert nonchalance was a boon to the burgeoning phony populist movement, as Donald Trump was able to capitalize on the discontent of the baby boom generation and become the 45th president of the United States.
By appealing to the most reactionary elements of petty-bourgeois baby boomers, Trump gave a platform to a disparate group of white supremacists, antisemites and anti-immigration proponents. On Nov. 9, 2016, the worst fears of millions of people came true when Trump was elected president of the United States. If the fact that pseudo-socialist Bernie Sanders was maneuvered out of the Democratic nomination wasn’t bad enough, the thought of a parasitic charlatan like Trump being anywhere near the White House was abhorrent.
The fear of the Trump administration galvanized millennials and Gen Z’ers across the country into action. Eventually, they learned that neither the Democratic nor the Republican Party served the working class, they witnessed the limitations of the capitalist system, and they learned that socialism was the solution to the liberation of the masses. The late 2010s was the period of mass radicalization of scores of young people ready to go beyond bourgeois electoralism.
Youth support for Palestinians
The ongoing genocide of Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip has the potential to be that same spark. In a recent CNN poll, only 27% of 18-34 year olds polled viewed the heinous violence inflicted by the Israeli military as justified. Protests in support of the Palestinian struggle are occurring on college campuses from coast to coast. Young adults are starting to question everything they’ve been told about Israel, especially the false notion of it being a safe haven for Jewish people when it was founded in 1948 and today.
This spontaneous fervor can develop into a broader anti-imperialist movement where imperialist foreign policy is challenged in a way it hasn’t been in decades. If the youth can realize that Israel is a violent, illegitimate state created by Western imperialism, they can realize that these same forces led to the overthrow of democratically elected leaders like Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in Iran and President Salvador Allende in Chile.
If working-class youth can disregard the lies being fed by the mainstream corporate media about Hamas and other Palestinian liberation groups like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, they can see through the propaganda being fed about socialist countries such as China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Venezuela and Cuba.
If young people can act in solidarity with Palestine and for its ultimate liberation, they can act in solidarity with every Global South movement escaping the boot of U.S. and Western imperialism, whether in Niger, Burkina Faso, Bolivia or Nicaragua.
This could be a genesis of a new generation of radicals who are willing to challenge the very foundation the modern United States is built on — and in the process find common cause with comrades all over the world as they deliver the final blow to the parasitic capitalist system.