When Hamas attacked Israel this weekend, I happened to be with two retired generals, including a four-star who had worked closely on the Israel-Palestine conflict. We were on a military history trip, literally crossing the Delaware River and learning about George Washington’s desperate campaign of December 1776. While we studied this war long past, one broke out in the present. The General was devastated by the news: by the tragedy for the Israeli and Jewish people, and by the overwhelming failure of Israeli intelligence and defense. He had been raised, he said, in the shadow of the Holocaust. It was part of his role in the military to secure both peace in the Middle East and the survival of the Jewish people.
What has been happening in the Middle East for the past 75 years (and for centuries before) is complicated. Israel, Palestine and the surrounding states have been in turn both victims and perpetrators of conflict, and a path forward is painful at best. What happened this weekend, on the other hand, is simple: Hamas, a terrorist organization, launched a depraved attack, killed hundreds of people (including attendees of a music festival), and committed kidnapping, murder and rape. As of Thursday night, at least 1,200 Israelis are dead, a number that is sure to grow. Many things in the world are relative, but evil is absolute. Anyone of principle should condemn Hamas in the harshest terms without equivocation.
This weekend, I took for granted that the generals called this situation what it so obviously is: a vicious terrorist attack, and a tragedy for Israel and human rights. Not everyone sees it this way.
Yalies4Palestine, for example, posted on Instagram to encourage attendance to a pro-Palestine rally andcall on Yalies to “uplift the calls of Palestinian Resistance.” The desire to “uplift” extreme violence is shameful and undermines the very cause it claims to support. Anyone who stands for the human rights of any group should be outraged by Hamas’s actions in Israel.
This sort of blind ignorance is not exclusive to Yale. In fact, the Harvard-Yale rivalry seems to extend to a competition over the worst statements in response to mass violence, as Harvard’s Palestinian Solidarity Committee posted a claim that Israel itself is somehow “entirely responsible” for Hamas’s attack. Some people will be quick to remind you of all the things Israel has done in the past that harmed Palestinians or exacerbated regional tensions. Israel is not perfect. Israel is often in the wrong. But no context justifies these kinds of atrocities. I am neither Israeli nor Jewish, and I don’t need to be to see that the Jewish people have suffered great evil in the past few days. This is not a matter of identity or religion, but a matter of humanity.
With regards to Israel-Palestine, we could spend generations pointing fingers. We already have. Every group is guilty in some respect. And yet no group deserves to suffer what the Israelis have this weekend at the hands of Hamas. In fact, no group deserves to suffer what the Palestinians have under Hamas’s rule. If you support Palestine, you should not support Hamas. The path forward is complicated, and it will require more empathy from both sides, but one thing is crystal clear: Hamas has no place in a peaceful future.
I did not arrive back on campus in time for Monday night’s vigil for the victims of the attack, but I was heartened to see that hundreds of Yalies and others of all backgrounds turned out to the event. Our hearts should go out to all those affected by the current violence. But first and foremost they should go out to Israel, Israelis and the Jewish people, all of whom have been targeted by this attack.
In 1776, we fought a war declaring that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In 1945, we renewed this commitment to human dignity and freedom, liberating Europe from the barbaric rule of the Nazis. In 2023, we should be at the point where we stand united as Americans for those same values. We should be opposed to violence, murder and terror. And so, let us stand with Israel. Let us remember that some things are evil in any context. Let us remember that we said never again.
ARIANE DE GENNARO is a junior in Branford College. Her column “For Country, For Yale” provides “pragmatic and sometimes provocative perspectives on relevant issues in Yale and American life.” Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note, Oct. 31: After publication of this column, the News appended an erroneous correction that has since been retracted. The News regrets the mistake and has issued an editor’s note about it.