The past few weeks have been challenging for those residing in the Middle East, particularly for individuals deeply connected to the Israel-Palestine conflict. It seems that the life we know won’t ever be the same after Oct. 7, or, as the Israelis call it, “The Black Saturday.” However, the specific details of recent events tend to vary depending on the news channel you are watching or the users you are following on social media. For this reason, it is hard to differentiate between fact and fiction. Moreover, there is a concerning trend of people voicing slogans without a thorough understanding of their implications.
The situation has escalated, with a significant rise in antisemitic behavior against the Jewish community worldwide. According to the Anti-Defamation League, since Oct. 7, the number of antisemitic incidents has increased by 388% compared to the same period last year. The ADL’s account of pro-Palestinians protests showed numerous signs calling for the elimination of Jews or endorsing the horrific acts committed by Hamas. One sign reading “Zionism is a cancer to this planet,” for example, portrays the Jewish community as a deadly disorder with an implicit message of annihilation. Another sign depicted “the Jewish Star of David in the Israeli flag replaced with an feces emoji,” stating “keep the world clean.” This suggests that Jewish people are filthy and need to be “cleansed” from the world. “Free Palestine from the river to the sea,” many people and organizations argue, is a message promoting the removal of all the Jewish people from Israel, giving the entire land to the Palestinians, without offering any solution for the seven million Jewish civilians residing in that area. This interpretation arose from the Hamas attack on Oct. 7.
Recently, aggressive posters were hung up around the University of Connecticut campus with the statement “liberation by any means necessary” alongside a picture of members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, Hamas’s allies. This sends a message from UConn students that glorify terrorist groups that participated in the horrific massacre on Oct. 7. Our world tends to follow the mainstream, where popular opinions distort the truth. When the mainstream supports war, violence or declarations that justify murder and occupation, it illustrates how these sentiments become the prevailing public opinions through the power of an extremist mob that makes the most noise. Still, there exists an expression known as the “red line”: the limit beyond which someone’s behavior becomes unacceptable. If somebody crosses this red line, it implies that their actions are worthy of condemnation and elimination.
But is it so? It appears that certain individuals opt to disregard these red lines, thus rendering them ambiguous for the mainstream and the world. Even if the red line is as red as blood, some people are struggling to condemn its transgression. Perhaps defining a red line is too complex, as it may vary based on one’s perspective.
So, let’s try to decide together what can be counted as a red line. Is beheading children and babies a red line? Is burning entire families alive in their homes a red line? Is shooting a pregnant woman and stabbing her fetus a red line? Is murdering parents in front of their children a red line? Is kidnapping one’s grandmother, child, little sister or father a red line? The answer to all these questions should be a simple, obvious yes. With politics and history aside, these are red lines. Unfortunately, these stories are only a few from thousands of stories from Black Saturday. There are people out there who do not believe these are red lines; I assume these are the same people who call out antisemitic slogans around the world. That’s how it came to this point when, only in a few weeks, Black Saturday had been forgotten, together with 239 hostages in the hands of Hamas.
A new fight had started — one which necessitates not guns or weapons, but words. Numerous articles, think pieces and videos attempt to explain Israel and Palestine in different manners. The facts become debatable when entwined with emotions, and the mainstream exploits this circumstance for profit. In a moment, the testimonies and numbers become insignificant, and the hostages’ faces become random and indistinct figures. Indeed, words become meaningless when on the other side there are no ears open to listen, and there is no person without an ego willing to admit they were wrong. Consequently, the red lines blur, and people attempt to justify the brutal acts by Hamas. Crossing the red lines that Hamas has doesn’t make any sense, and so there are those who try to find a reason, an excuse. And just like that, it’s frightening to realize that there is no such thing as a red line.