Eli Schotland, Staff Writer
October 20, 2023
In the Middle East, there is currently extensive conflict between the state of Israel and Hamas, an Islamic militant group governing the Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip.
The United States and European Union consider Hamas a terrorist organization, as it seeks to eliminate Israel as a state. The Hamas mission statement reads, “The Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas] …strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine… Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”
So, what is happening and when did it start? Early on Saturday, October 7, Hamas fired thousands of rockets from Gaza into Israel. Hamas terrorists then attacked nearby Israeli villages, killing roughly 1,300 Israeli civilians and 27 Americans. October 7 marked the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust ended in 1945. Hamas also took roughly 100-150 Israeli hostages, as well as 14 Americans and other foreign nationals. The Israeli government responded with a complete blockade of the Gaza Strip, demanding the release of hostages; they have also launched retaliatory rockets at Hamas military targets. More than 2,000 Palestinians have also died from the conflict so far.
It is a difficult situation. However, there are some undeniable facts: Hamas has committed unjustifiable, inexcusable atrocities against innocent Israeli civilians. These terrorists have beheaded many Israelis and raped women and children. Israeli Defense Forces (IDF, Israel’s military) rockets have killed innocent Palestinian civilians. More Palestinians have been killed than Israelis. These are difficult facts to accept, but they are facts all the same.
Israel has a right to protect its own people, as all countries do. To protect its people, Israel must eradicate the evil of Hamas. But Hamas’ tactics have made that near-impossible without loss of civilian life, as key Hamas military targets are often located among civilian populations in the Gaza Strip. In pursuing the destruction of Hamas, Israel must walk a fine line going forward and make its best efforts to mitigate the loss of civilian life.
As a Jew, these tragic and horrifying events have impacted me personally. I have family members in Israel and in the IDF who I haven’t heard from in days. I am deeply saddened and disgusted at the Israeli civilian loss of life and the unspeakable atrocities committed by Hamas. As a human being, I also feel for the innocent Palestinian civilians killed by the IDF’s retaliatory strikes. I am not only furious with Hamas and their evil and pointless hatred of Israel and Jews, but I am also confused and upset by the actions of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His corruption and prejudice have fueled Palestinian anger directed towards Israel, therefore putting Israelis at risk. His administration’s refusal to compromise with Palestinian authorities other than Hamas, combined with Hamas’ inherent desire for the destruction of Israel, are costing the innocent lives of both Israeli and Palestinian civilians. But Hamas attacked first. How much of the blame lies with whom? Can you quantify blame?
To Nobles students: I may not know the answers, but I have questions and suggestions for all of you. How can we best support our Jewish community? I want us to be there for each other, to have open ears, minds, and hearts. I want us to act, think, and speak without hatred and prejudice. I want each and every one of us, Jewish or not, affected or not, to learn and to ask questions where we can. It is a sad truth that moments of calamity and tragedy are when we must grow as a community. Speak to each other with kindness. Remember that everyone has different lived experiences that influence their worldview.
Choose to focus on our shared qualities, not our differences. No one should be expected to know the solution to a 75-year-long conflict that the best diplomatic minds in the world have tried and failed to solve. We are all doing our best with what we have on hand. The situation in Israel is opaque, fluid, and extremely nuanced. Many Jewish students have family or friends in Israel and may be worried or grieving. Now is the time to have compassion and empathy, and above all else, to think before you speak.
(Photo Credit: Ben Heider)