Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates says many campus protesters “don’t know much about this history” of the Middle East

Washington – A lot of young people, said former Defense Secretary Robert Gates In protest against the war between Israel and Hamas On campus “they don’t know much about the history” of the region, where American universities have in recent weeks become a center of dissent The price of the war on the Palestinians in Gaza.

Gates said on the “Face the Nation” program, “What happened between Israel and the Palestinians decades ago is very complex and very difficult.” “And I think a lot of young protesters don’t know much about this history.”

As protests have emerged on college campuses across the country in recent weeks, some marked by anti-Semitic rhetoric that has raised concerns about the safety of Jewish students on campus, Gates said that universities — balancing considerations of free speech and protecting all students — have imposed their rules regarding demonstrations more closely. Inconsistent.

“So I think the place where I have seen success in managing protests and where the protests have not been disruptive, even though students are expressing their views, is on those campuses where the rules have been applied consistently and implemented consistently,” he said. .

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates on “Face the Nation,” May 19, 2024.

CBS News


Regarding the dynamics in the broader region and their implications for American security, Gates, who served as Secretary of Defense between 2006 and 2011 under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, noted that there are four ongoing wars in the Middle East. at present. He referred to the war in Gaza between Israel, Hezbollah, the Houthis in Yemen, and militias in Syria and Iraq, saying that Iran is “the only force behind these four conflicts.”

He added: “We have become too preoccupied with Gaza, and what we have failed to talk about enough is how we deal with Iran, which is providing weapons, planning, and intelligence in all four of these conflicts, and that it is Iran that is providing weapons, planning, and intelligence in all four of these conflicts.” “The source of the problem,” Gates said. “How do we deal with that? That’s the real issue, and it seems to me that it’s being ignored.”

Meanwhile, Gates said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government It “basically ignored” US views and requests, including regarding humanitarian aid, as the war in Gaza continues. Referring to President Biden’s recent decision to withhold some specific weapons from Israel, Gates said: “When our allies ignore us, especially on issues that are of great importance to us and to the region, I think it is reasonable to take actions that try to do that.” To get their attention.”

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