The conversation surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict is clouded by the voices of those who know little about the other side. It’s sad, but it’s true.
The parties involved are divided and opposed, each clambering on, rarely listening to the other.
Hamas’ recent attacks have only added fuel to the fire, as Instagram graphics once again flood our social feeds, often devoid of much-needed context. I hope this piece will provide some clarity on the conflict and demonstrate the importance of doing research to learn about both the Israeli and Palestinian perspectives.
This is a controversial topic, so I want to make a few distinctions before continuing.
First, Hamas is a terrorist organization, as classified by the United States in 1997. That is a nonnegotiable fact.
Second, there is a difference between Hamas, which, as an organization, controls the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinians who reside there. These two groups are too often lumped together, clouding discussions about the conflict and creating unnecessary tension.
With that clarified, let’s turn to the events of Oct. 7.
At 6:35 a.m., residents of southern and central Israel awoke to the wail of sirens, signaling a barrage of rockets originating from the Gaza Strip. The sad truth is that these kinds of attacks are not unusual in Israel.
However, this Hamas offensive quickly distinguished itself from others in recent memory.
The attack on Israel came by air, water and land. Hamas terrorists crossed the border into Israel with one goal: to “set the earth on fire under the feet of the occupiers,” according to Hamas military commander Mohammad Deif.
This sentiment stands in stark contrast with the pro-Palestine movement, which often claims to prioritize human rights. But, again, this is Hamas, a terrorist organization.
From there, civilian homes were raided. Families were torn apart. Children were kidnapped and taken hostage. Pedestrians were shot dead in the street. Dead bodies of Israelis and visiting tourists were paraded around Gaza, seemingly celebrated by Hamas.
When the attacks first began, Hamas terrorists targeted a music festival taking place in the desert, just three miles from the border of the Gaza Strip. Rockets and gunfire slaughtered more than 250 festival attendees, who traveled from Germany, Brazil, England and a host of other countries. The people killed in this unprovoked terrorist attack were not soldiers — it is essential to remember that the victims were innocent civilians.
As of Oct. 12, the conflict has claimed over 1,200 Israeli lives, with Oct. 7 now marked as the deadliest day for Jewish people since the Holocaust. This was not an attack against the Israeli government; this was an attack against civilians.
Many who are quick to justify the actions of Hamas claim that these attacks are retaliation for decades of Israeli occupation of Gaza.
But that’s where I stand speechless. I cannot fathom how anyone can view these videos — ones of children being ripped from their families, of innocent bystanders shot down in the streets, of a dead woman stripped of all her clothes paraded around in the bed of a pickup truck — and attempt to justify any of it. These are heinous crimes carried out by a terrorist organization with the goal of inflicting as much harm as possible.
After all, Hamas’ founding 1988 charter reads, “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”
There are no ends that justify these means.
Murdering civilians, taking hostages and beheading babies are war crimes.
I can’t help but also point out the tone-deaf protests in support of Hamas, such as a Harvard petition that blamed Israel for these heinous attacks. Even if one attempts to paint such efforts as “pro-Palestine,” nothing from Hamas’ terrorist attacks furthered a pro-Palestine agenda. Unless, of course, such an agenda was the mass murder of innocent Jews. In the wake of these mass murders, justification is unfathomable.
Others who defend Hamas’ actions claim that the poor conditions in Gaza are a result of the Israeli government.
But I’d ask people to revisit who controls the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government pulled out of Gaza in 1994, leaving control to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
That PLO administration was overthrown by Hamas in 2007, leaving the terrorist organization to run the territory. Hamas could have focused on economic recovery. Instead, it opted to utilize the strip of land as military leverage, recruiting many civilians to become armed militants.
If Hamas really cared about the safety of Gaza residents, they would have chosen economic stabilization over militarization.
Throughout the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict, neither side has been perfect.
Those who try to paint a black-and-white picture ignore the nuance that this situation requires. However, unproductive excuses for brutal terrorist attacks do not advance any solutions.
I urge you, this time, instead of reposting a surface-level infographic on your Instagram story, to do your own research. And when you do, look at the titles of the articles you read. The choice of phrasing — whether that be labeling Hamas members as terrorists, militants or freedom fighters — is key and can tell you so much about the bias of the article.
With so much hate in the world and growing rates of antisemitism, it is essential to understand this issue before you add to the noise.
Praying for peace, a concerned Jew.
Nate Schindler is a sophomore in the MSB.