In our search for straightforward narratives, it’s natural to gravitate towards identifying the “good guys” and “bad enemies” in any conflict. We’re drawn to supporting the perceived underdogs, hoping to offer our assistance to those in need. It is understandable, then, why some automatically paint Israel as the “big bad wolf” and Palestinians as innocent underdogs. In the midst of complex conflicts, misinterpretations often arise. However, the extent of disinformation, ignorance, hypocrisy, and antisemitism that I have witnessed across Yale campuses in recent months has been unexpected and alarming. Amidst the chants of “Free Palestine,” it’s crucial to ask, “Free Palestine from what?” The correct answer is “from Hamas,” a recognized terror organization that has been controlling Gaza since 2006. Hamas is responsible for numerous acts of violence against Palestinian civilians, deliberately placing them in harm’s way to increase civilian casualties, using children to dig tunnels, shooting those who are trying to evacuate to safety, and stealing their humanitarian relief funds for its war machine. To truly “Free Palestine,” one must “Free Palestine from Hamas.”

Is it conceivable that intelligent Yale students perceive Hamas members as “liberation fighters” against Israel’s occupation? How do American college students reconcile the belief that all Israelis — infants, children, women and elderly — are legitimate military targets for Hamas? How can LGBTQ+ members align with an organization that throws gay individuals off buildings? What leads American students to support a group that openly chants “Death to America” with apparent sincerity?

Unfortunately, many individuals are influenced by misinformation and ignorance. I urge you to invest five minutes in considering a different perspective, supporting both innocent Palestinians and Israelis. I truly believe that showing empathy to one side in a conflict does not negate the capacity to have empathy for the other. Rather, it shows that you are human. The only side lacking any empathy or humanity is Hamas, and its destruction is imperative for the liberation of both Palestine and Israel.

Let’s begin with a concise history lesson. In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew its soldiers and Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip. The following year, Hamas terrorists won legislative elections, leading to political strains with the more moderate Fatah party. In 2007, Hamas violently seized control of Gaza after bitter infighting with the Palestinian Authority, members of which it threw from the tops of buildings in Gaza. Over the following 16 years, marked by four wars and countless “smaller” conflicts with Israel, Hamas only grew more powerful stealing billions of dollars and humanitarian aid from Palestinians to fund terrorism. 

This “blood money” trail paved the way for Oct. 7, 2023. On that cursed morning, along with nine million Israeli citizens, I found myself waking up to a nightmarish reality, evoking vivid memories of my grandparents’ haunting stories from the Holocaust. On that day, Hamas terrorists murdered over 1,200 innocent Israeli civilians. They gunned down hundreds of young men and women celebrating peace at a music festival, raped women before breaking their legs and killing them, burned and decapitated babies and tortured and mutilated entire families. Hamas also took 240 hostages, including mothers, children, babies and the elderly, showing no mercy even for a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor kidnapped in her wheelchair. The Hamas attack resembled a medieval Mongol raid for human trophies — except it was recorded in real-time and published to social media. If you were an Israeli, how would you react?

Since this tragic day, I’ve struggled to understand not only how such heinous genocide could occur, but also why university campuses in the U.S. are witnessing students supporting Hamas instead of standing in solidarity with Israel against this clear manifestation of evil. To understand this, we need to go back to my arrival at Yale, shortly after another Hamas attack on Israel, firing over 4,000 missiles at Israeli civilians over 12 days. One of these missiles landed less than 100 feet from my apartment in Tel Aviv. Approximately 680 of these Hamas missiles misfired and fell within the Gaza Strip, causing Palestinian casualties. When arriving at Yale, I was shocked to discover a biased statement on the Yale Postdoctoral Association’s (YPA) website, containing factually incorrect information and failing to mention “Hamas” or its responsibility. Instead of dedicating my time to research, it took me and my colleagues nearly a year to post a counter-statement, challenging the misinformation and biased claims of the original statement. Expecting critical thinking and academic debates at Yale, I encountered unchallenged lies; the longer they persist, the more people become comfortable with them. This is but one instance of the misinformation and ignorance I’ve encountered regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during my time at Yale. 

Fast-forward to Oct. 7, 2023. On that accursed morning, Hamas showed the whole world its version of “Free Palestine”: slaughter all Jews. While some finally received a wake-up call, others have been quick to dehumanize Israel. Two days after the massacre of 1,200 innocent Israelis, hundreds of Yale students gathered “to uplift the calls of Palestinian Resistance” and marchALL OUT FOR PALESTINE. What do you think they mean by “Palestinian Resistance”? This incitement for violence continues to grow with time, as seen in the “Rally for Palestine – End U.S. sponsored genocide in Gaza.” Only recently, hundreds of Yale students chanted, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be Free,” a chilling antisemitic phrase endorsing the killing or deportation of 9 million Israelis.

Dear Yale students, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is complex, with many different opinions even among Israelis. But since Oct. 7, 2023, regardless of political leanings, the Israeli people are united in their anguish. This distress resonates not only with Jews worldwide, but also with all who oppose hatred and violence. Please educate yourself about the situation, apply your critical thinking and don’t consider social media as a reliable source. 

Listen to the words of the U.S. President, Joe Biden, three days after the brutal attack: “You know, there are moments in this life —  and I mean this literally — when pure, unadulterated evil is unleashed on this world. The people of Israel lived through one such moment this weekend.” 

Listen to the words of Yale’s President, Peter Salovey: “I am compelled by our shared sense of humanity to condemn the attacks on civilians by Hamas in the strongest possible terms.” Listen to your Israeli and Palestinian colleagues born and raised in this area. What happened on Oct. 7 has no two sides, just as what happened on 9/11 or during the Holocaust. 

This is not just a war between Israel and Palestine. It’s a war between Western democracies and barbaric terror organizations, between those who embrace life and humanity and those who embrace death and violence, between good and pure evil. We all should understand that the only way to “Free Palestine” is by complete and immediate destruction of Hamas. Everyone recognizes this will come at a painful cost, the lives of innocent civilians in Gaza and in Israel, as well as the lives of many Israeli soldiers. Yet, the price of inaction might be even steeper. 

ZIV BEN-ZION is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Levy Decision Neuroscience Lab and the Harpaz-Rotem Post Traumatic Stress Lab at the Yale School of Medicine. Contact him at