Could the war in the Middle East be a return to World War II?

November 16 – The headline may seem ridiculous, but a number of people are pointing out that the conflict between Israel and Palestine is bringing up a lot of the issues seen between the Allied and Axis Powers almost 80 years ago. 

The current conflict has brought out strong feelings on both sides and old histories are flaring up. 

The latest trend on, of all things, TikTok is centered around the Letter to America from Osama bin Laden. It’s being shared in a pro-Palestinian effort to prove how awful America’s support of Israel really is. 

Bin Laden wrote the letter in 2002, right after 9/11 and he blamed what was happening to America on the US support of Israel and what he called the suppression of Palestine.

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM insisted, “This is what you do when you have young people taught that America is evil, that colonization is happening. Then they read this letter, ‘oh the poor Palestinian, they’ve been defeated and oppressed by Israelis and Americans.’”

An Axios survey released yesterday showed about a third of US adults under 30 regularly get their news from TikTok. 

Attorney Clint Barkdoll added, “Roughly 43 percent of all US adults are now getting their news from TikTok, among other sources. That letter is now being reincarnated. It’s circulating. It’s the biggest circulated letter or snapshot, if you will, yesterday on all of TikTok, and again, it’s largely millennials that are using that platform that are giving that kind of narrative and commentary traction. You do wonder what’s contributing to this apparent support, particularly among young people, against Israel and support for what’s happening in Palestine and for people in Gaza?”

The issue slides into the World War II realm with what was recently seen on the streets in Harrisburg. 

PA Representative Rob Kauffman explained, “I was walking down State Street which of course is the street that literally if you keep walking, you’re walking up the steps of the Capitol. There are consulting firms and churches and you name it on State Street. Quantum Communications, folks that I know there, I saw in their picture window was the Israeli flag and I looked underneath it and there was a swastika sticker placed on the building under the Israeli flag. I immediately ran in the building, just kind of blurted out ‘you have a swastika sticker somebody placed on your building.’”

The business called the police and news media. 

Kauffman said, “I think we all agree we can have conversations about this issue when it’s civilized speech, but what we’re seeing in like Washington DC last night, I believe it was, when you’re defacing someone’s building with a swastika sticker? That actually demonstrates those who oppose Israel, that demonstrates they seem to be the modern day voice of Nazis.” 

Anthony Panasiewicz of NewsTalk 103.7FM said, “This kind of goes back in my opinion to the ratcheting up of tensions, where people are fighting each other inside of Senate chambers. You have people confronting Senators for not calling for a ceasefire. It’s not just like, hey, I think you should do this, I’m a constituent. No it’s screaming or threats of physical violence.” 

Kauffman added, “Physical altercations. When it comes to these issues, you can have conversations, you should be able to have conversations. There are varying viewpoints out there, even on the right there are folks who are saying okay, now, let’s have a little balance here. Let’s talk about should we be funding wars here, there and everywhere else? You can have conversations, but when it comes to vandalism, violence, the extreme side. When you’re getting into the voices of Nazis, that’s just out of the scope of traditions and norms here in the United States.”

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “We’re teaching young people that mob rule works and mob intimidation works. We’ve already seen it on college campuses when a conservative speaker comes to speak, and they decide to make so much noise that nobody can hear the speaker. They come out in mobs that intimidate people who are going to see the speaker. That’s all been brushed aside as not a big deal. Oh, there’s always been protests on campus. No, a protest is very different from what I just described. Then you have this news coming out against Israel in a way that’s not a sane dialogue or well, let’s talk about a two state solution. There’s no desire by the people who committed the terrorism for a two state solution. From the river to the sea doesn’t imply a two state solution. You hear these young people now actually calling for and agreeing with the Nazi position of elimination of Jews. They go beyond Israel, and even just talk about Jews in general, which I think the sticker kind of speaks of, which is why I’d be surprised if it was some extremists on the right that put that sticker on the window. But these so-called extremists on the left are getting to be your everyday college students. Fifty percent of people 18 to 29 agree that Hamas is not a terrorist organization. That is horrific.”

Kauffman said, “I think it’s important to allow these folks to out themselves, so that the mask is off. These conversations need to be had. I think even these demonstrations are very revealing, so we know what we have in America. We know what the underlying sentiment of certain generations are and it’s scary. It is scary to think that that’s what the next generation believes.”

Panasiewicz noted, “There’s a point that people go, oh, there’s always been protests. There’s always been backlash and I’m going to go all the way back to 2015. I was in school in Pittsburgh, and we had General Michael Hayden, former CIA director, come speak and I attended that speech. It was really good. It was really well attended and you had somebody, 10, 15 minutes in screaming about war crimes, but the thing was, everybody there was like this guy’s a loon, send him away. Just get him away. Now, it’s just commonplace. It’s commonplace that this happens and people are sometimes actively encouraging it.” 

Kauffman said, “At that point, probably the university or those in authority let the person scream and then escorted them out.” 

Panasiewicz confirmed, “Yeah, that’s all it was. Campo came in, grabbed him, took him out and said don’t do that again. Bye bye. You’re a crazy man.” 

Kauffman said, “Now at universities, it’s a mob coming after the person who’s coming to speak and the university bows to the mob.” 

“Either because they agree with it or because they’re intimidated and afraid of it,” Jansen suggested. “You can see the Biden administration now, doing this dance now. Yes, some great strong statements in support of Israel. But since then, there’s been a little bit of a dance because they’re worried about getting voted back in. So we’re not going to stand on principle. We’re going to worry about what makes us most likely to retain power or get more power.”

Some would suggest similar reactions are happening in the PA House. 

Jansen said, “A lot of legislation being put up by the majority in the House right now seems to be trying to do the same thing. It’s not about what policies are actually going to make things really better. It’s about how we can make the Republicans look bad, or we can give things away to people so that we’ll get votes and maybe we can take away votes from them.”

Kauffman pointed out, “In the House, there’s not a push to govern. The only push is to push out radically, politically motivated legislation to score political points that will likely and hopefully never get fully through the legislative process and become law. It’s simply to win political points with this group, that group. They’ve tried to make abortion legislation, it’s unconstitutional, but nonetheless they don’t care, where law enforcement would not cooperate with other states, if they had some kind of abortion law that prosecuted someone and that person came to Pennsylvania that we would not cooperate with them. But then when you look through the legislation, it was so poorly drafted and thrown together, they even put treason in there. So you could come to Pennsylvania to be a haven for treason. I asked the question in committee and they literally glanced right over it, but didn’t answer it because it doesn’t matter about the substance of the bill. Their rallying cry was abortion, abortion, abortion because they think that’s effective right now. Then you have gun control, same thing, just pushing out gun control legislation that is likely never going to see the light of day. And pardons, instead of the unanimous vote of the pardon board to pardon people, which has worked for a very long time, they wanted to move it down to a simple majority on the pardon board.”

There’s also talk of altering the cost of living adjustments in PA for state retirees. 

Kauffman noted, “That would dramatically increase the pension debt and property taxes in local school districts that would have to fund that pension increase. It doesn’t make fiscal sense, but it’s hopefully a giveaway to a certain group to make them like you, even though it’s bad public policy. It’s just one after the other. It’s drip, drip, drip political stuff, not about governing, and that’s why we have not gotten the budget done because they’re not those really hard discussions with the Senate and the Governor. It’s just throwing the political stuff out and maybe a budget bill will come out every now and again.”

Panasiewicz added, “What this says to me is that it’s governing by press release is what it is. I religiously read press releases, and I read a lot. I read a lot of good ones and a lot of bad ones. It’s just pushing out stuff so that you can say to your constituents, ‘I’m doing something, but you’re really not doing anything and you’re just backing up the process in moving it along.” 

“And making the other party look bad,” Jansen suggested, “You’re really specifically trying to say, daring the Senate to stop any of these things because the Senate is going to start worrying, well, what if we keep doing this and what if that’s effective and then we lose the majority?”

Panasiewicz said, “Then people say well Harrisburg doesn’t do anything because of this and that’s a valid criticism with some things, but there’s valid criticism that there are people in the government that are actively trying to make it do nothing.”

Kauffman said, “Let me tell you the kind of legislation that is passing when we’re in session in the House, I hope we’re not in session. Because it is bad for the public discourse. It’s bad for the Commonwealth. It looks poorly on the Commonwealth and our lack of ability to govern. Very frankly, they’re pushing these bills out. They’re going to have another resignation in December. So they will lose the majority and then we will not be able to be in session because they will have lost the majority. Initially I would say that’s ridiculous, but in the way they are governing, I’m actually looking forward to them not being in the majority and then us not being able to be in session because the only time we’re in session is when they’re in the majority and the bills they run out are absolutely crazy.”

Jansen pointed out, “In case anybody thinks, oh, it’s maybe some extreme Democrats who are doing this, it was speaker McClinton’s bill, and I would say she is kind of an extremist, but speaker McClinton’s bill involving all this ridiculous trying to encompass all the abortion rules in other states, which doesn’t make any sense. They know that’s a winning cause for them.”

Kauffman said, “Their majority, they all go along. They go along because if not, their radicals will come after them. The Democrat pro life Caucus Chair voted for the abortion bill. So she goes along because she might get primaried.”