Archive for March 6th, 2024

March 6th, 2024


Yesterday, The Forward published something I wrote about my dear alma mater, Hampshire College, and a push by some students to get the College to issue a statement calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. There are a few other ideas and points that did not fit in the published piece but which I think are important to address, so I will do that over the next few days. Here’s the first.

The statement that was shared with me for support (text below) had three critical flaws from my perspective. I still would not have signed this petition for all the reasons I outlined. Nonetheless, the students gained no sympathy from me for their omissions, and it is worth noting them:

  1. Their statement notes the day this most recent conflict began–but does not mention the brutal Hamas attack on Israel, the murder of Israeli civilians, rape of Israeli women, or the taking of 200+ hostages. That is clearly an intentional omission, and it speaks volumes. It is difficult to take as seriously someone’s concern about civilians on one side of a conflict if they cannot also acknowledge the civilians on the other side.
  2. Their statement says that civilian casualties in the conflict “reach over 30,000,” but that is inaccurate–the Health Ministry in Gaza (which is controlled by Hamas) intentionally does not distinguish between civilians and combatants. It may be that more than 30,000 people have died, but it is important to acknowledge the distinction between civilians and combatants. Simply identifying all of these Palestinian dead as civilians is another kind of omission, seeking to downplay the reality of Hamas terrorism–and the number of people known to be fighting for and with Hamas.
  3. #BringThemHome. That’s my third problem with this statement: there is no mention of the hostages being held by Hamas. My perspective is: if you cannot acknowledge the evil of hostage-taking and the need to release these people, then your moral compass is malfunctioning. If you can explain away the hostages because you think Hamas is justified in using them as human shields, then do not talk to me about international war crimes.

The statement from Hampshire SJP:

Since October 7th, 2023, Israel has drastically escalated violence against all Palestinians. We have seen catastrophic destruction in Palestine as civilian casualties reach over 30,000, a direct result of Israeli military bombing campaigns that destroy entire neighborhoods, including schools, hospitals, and refugee camps. Israel continues to weaponize white phosphorus on Palestine’s civilian population and withhold humanitarian aid, food, water, and access to energy. These are international war crimes. The bare minimum we can do as the Hampshire College community to help show our support in ending the genocide. Until a ceasefire is enacted, civilians will continue to die, horrifically and often.

We stand against all racism, Islamophobia, anti-semitism, and any form of bigotry as a result of this violence. We stand for a future of safety and liberation for all. As a community, we support those on the Hampshire College campus affected by the violence, and as we continue to grieve, we are calling on our mayors, state representatives, governors, senators, Congressmen, and military leaders to enact an immediate ceasefire and a meaningful, long-term cessation of all aggression against civilians across Israel and Palestine.