A recent survey of students at the University of California Berkeley revealed many students who claimed to advocate for the Palestinian cause actually have little knowledge about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Ron E. Hassner, the Helen Diller Family Chair in Israel Studies at UC Berkeley recently surveyed 230 students at the University of California Berkeley. Despite most students purporting to care "deeply" about the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, "75% of those students cannot locate those territories on a map and 84% cannot name the decade (let alone the year) in which that occupation began," Hassner wrote in an essay detailing the results of the survey.
Shockingly, 25% "of these students placed the Palestinian Territories west of Lebanon, in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea," Hassner added.
Most students also had no idea how many people actually lived in Israel. Only 17% of the students gave the correct answer, while others made guesses that were way off, ranging from 100,000 to 150 million people.
Interestingly, having a more moderate stance on the conflict seemed to reflect greater knowledge of the issues at hand, Hassner explained. He revealed that those students were more likely to know "more and are more likely to admit gaps in their knowledge."
The survey wasn't only limited to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rather, students were asked to weigh in on 18 key issues in the Middle East ranging from US-Iran relations, the civil war in Yemen and drone warfare. The students were then given a five-point scale to indicate their level of interest in each topic.
The students seemed most interested in the Israeli-Palestinian crisis while expressing indifference toward other instances of alleged occupation like the Kurdish struggle for independence in Iraq, the Moroccan occupation in Western Sahara, and the Turkish occupation in Northern Cyprus.