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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Duda: The generational divide, exacerbated by the war in Gaza, spells trouble for Biden

In the days following Hamas’ deadly attack on Israel, a Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll found that 52% of Americans 18-24 years old support Israel and its right to defend itself. But, the same poll found that a staggering 95% of Americans 65 years and older support this idea. 

These results are not all that surprising since Americans typically rally around its allies’ causes, and Israel is one of America’s strongest allies. But 18 weeks into the conflict, support for Israel and the Biden administration is only declining, most notably in younger Americans. A recent poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 65% of Democrats under 45 disapprove of how Biden is handling the conflict, while 67% of Democrats 45 and older approve of his actions with regard to supporting Israel.

This generational divide seems to align almost perfectly with how Americans consume their news. The average viewer of mainstream media outlets, such as Fox News, CNN and MSNBC is about 70 years old, and there are many examples of how these media outlets carefully curate a favorable view of Israel’s actions. Spencer Snyder, an independent journalist, found that CNN headlines typically try to dodge the truth when it comes to covering the war. 

For due diligence, I decided to look at CNN headlines, and I found an article titled, “‘Mass casualties’ as UN shelter struck amid intense fighting in Khan Younis.” I believe a more truthful title would be “‘Mass Palestinian casualties’ as UN shelter is struck by Israeli bombs amid intense fighting in Khan Younis, a place where Israel told Palestinians to flee to.” 

But do not just take my word for it. According to Daniel Boguslaw, an investigative reporter at The Intercept, CNN routes its coverage of the conflict through the Jerusalem Bureau, an organization that is subject to the Israeli Defense Forces censor, which inevitably paints Israel’s actions in a more favorable light.

In contrast, younger Americans tend to consume news through social media platforms, one of the most popular being TikTok. Eighty-six percent of the platform’s active users are between 16 and 44 years old. Videos by independent users allow viewers to see the shocking amount of death, starvation and destruction in the Gaza Strip because of Israel’s unprecedented bombing campaign. Israel’s actions have amounted to the International Court of Justice finding plausible evidence that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza. 

But wait, is TikTok also engaged in skewing what viewers see on their platform to create a more favorable impression of the Palestinian cause? While some conservative politicians may feel the answer is yes, TikTok claims that younger generations are more sympathetic toward the Palestinian cause by default. A TikTok newsroom article cites a 2006-2016 Pew Research Center study finding that support for the Palestinian cause has increased in Americans born after 1980, long before TikTok was even an idea. 

The Biden campaign is in a tough spot for the 2024 election. The generational divide seems so ubiquitous in the U.S., and it goes beyond the war in Gaza. With housing being the most unaffordable it has been in decades and student debt financially kneecapping the younger generation, it is almost impossible to buy a starter home, an asset that is supposed to be a ticket to the middle class. 

I am not just blaming the Biden administration for this inaction. According to NBC News, our current Congress is the third oldest since 1789, with the average age in the Senate and House being 63.9 years and 57.5 years, respectively. The majority of politicians in Congress have no idea what it is like to have crippling student debt or to buy a starter home in these housing market conditions. 

But at the end of the day, Biden is the one running for President.

While I am just as frustrated about my student debt load and inability to afford a starter home right now as the next millennial, this did not rattle me enough to forgo my vote in this upcoming election. 

However, the administration’s unyielding support for Israel at the expense of Palestinian lives is a bridge too far for me, and many of his younger constituents share this sentiment. An article in The Guardian asked a college freshman about this issue, and she said, “My generation is appalled. There’s a lot of people who are not willing to put their votes towards this administration as a result of their actions in Gaza.” 

This spells trouble for the Biden campaign since record turnout from younger voters helped him win in 2020. Biden is losing support not only from younger generations but also from voters of color, another cohort that showed up for him in 2020. A poll by NBC News found that Biden’s net approval rating among Black voters dropped nearly 20 points through 2023. Support for Biden by Arab Americans was 59% in 2020, and now, it has justifiably nosedived to just 17%. 

I cannot bring myself to vote for Biden in 2024 — or Donald Trump — and independent candidates never really have a chance. I would need Biden to distance himself from supporting Israel beyond perfunctory and empty statements to consider voting for him. 

I hate to not vote because I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to exercise this right, but I am sitting this one out. I can wait for the housing market to cool down or for a future president to forgive my student debt, but the Palestinians do not have this luxury of time. About 1.4 million Palestinian refugees are currently waiting in terror, pushed up against the border of Egypt in Rafah, ahead of Israel’s intended bombing campaign and ground invasion around Ramadan. That is why it is such a breaking point for me.

Melissa Duda is a second-year graduate student in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. She can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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