What do you do when a gunman breaks into your house? If you happen to be in your home at 7 a.m. like many Israeli families on Oct.7, the only hope, really, is that you are the first to go. The only one in your family not to feel even the briefest agony that comes with seeing your husband, wife, sister, brother, child, mother or father slaughtered in the fleeting moments before the gun is turned on you. The stories that have emerged from the Israeli villages and kibbutzim surrounding Gaza give voice to unspeakable horrors. Of a woman killed mid-labor, of bodies charred beyond recognition, of kidnapped children confined to chicken coops in Gaza. Yet, the inability of the Daily Campus and its contributors to condemn without reservation the Hamas atrocities speaks to a moral failure as calamitous as the events of Oct. 7.
Instead of revealing the horrors of the Hamas terror attacks and the ensuing war, the contributors and editors of the Daily Campus have woven a cloth made from the flimsy fabric of theory. Parading this cloth as a cloak of justice, it serves little more than to obscure the atrocities committed by Hamas on Israeli civilians during the day of Oct. 7. Instead, they have dressed up the brutal murders of civilians — many of whom were peace activists — as resistance. As acceptable casualties. As necessary deaths in the pursuit of a pure and ideological vision of a just world.
Yet, at no point in history — whether during the Holocaust in Europe, South African apartheid and repressive dictatorships in South America — did resistance fighters murder civilians en masse. At no point in history have resistance fighters raped and dismembered bodies of innocents. At no point in history have resistance fighters made their mission the wholesale kidnapping of innocent civilians. Hamas is no resistance group. Their actions deserve no sympathy and surely no justification. They ought to be condemned to the strongest degree. Their murderous ideology must be torn down and laid bare with every shred of morality the Daily Campus claims to wield.
Such a condemnation does not obscure the suffering that Gazan civilians have endured since the start of Israeli bombardments, nor does it exalt Israeli suffering. It merely addresses the truth of Hamas’ intentions.
In the same breath, we can and ought to acknowledge that there are social, political and economic asymmetries that contribute to this conflict, which must be addressed if we are to see a lasting resolution beyond this war. We have the obligation to advocate for the protection of innocent civilians — for the free passage of vital necessities and medical supplies. The horror, fear and enduring grief experienced by families and children in Gaza and the Palestinian diaspora ought to be acknowledged — ought to be a reason to advocate for a just end to this war. At the same time, the scope of human tragedy in Gaza cannot negate the fear, anxiety and enduring grief felt by Israelis in the wake of Oct. 7. Every person, whether Palestinian or Israeli, has the right to life, dignity and safety. Anything less than self-determination for both peoples will only result in a continuation of the suffering we are seeing.
Trauma cannot be compared like two weights on a scale — not at the national level, and surely not at the personal level. Doing so risks sacrificing the lives of people murdered and maimed in their homes at the altar of ideological purity that worships power, not human life, as its highest value. Trauma, at the same time, must act like a window — a magnifying glass — and not a mirror. If we use it only to focus on ourselves and our suffering, we will do little to end this bloody existence. Trauma must allow us to see deeper into the suffering of others, to feel their stories, and to accept their pain without rejecting it as false, necessary or acceptable like some have suggested we do with Israeli or Palestinian lives. Contrary to a claim made in an earlier article printed by the Daily Campus, embracing this very nuance is precisely the antidote to this violence. Abandoning it will only dig us deeper into the pit of fear, hatred, mistrust and despair that brought us to this moment in the first place.