Content warning: This article contains references to violence and sexual assault.
The killing of civilians is never justified, whether by Israel or Hamas. The opinion penned in The Stanford Daily by Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) on the current Israel-Palestine conflict is vile and despicable.
As the great Martin Luther King Jr. intoned in his Nobel speech, “[v]iolence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral […] It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones. Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible.”
While I take deep issue with the treatment of the people of the Gaza Strip over these past decades and staunchly supported their cause many years before that position was “trendy,” there is no justification for Hamas’s terrorism. Hamas has massacred Jewish men, defiled and raped Jewish women — parading their bodies in front of jeering crowds — and littered the streets with the bodies of Jewish children. In Article Seven of their 1988 charter Hamas wrote, “[t]he Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” Hamas’s dream is not to expel Israel from the Gaza Strip, nor even to exterminate Israel as a nation. Their dream is the extermination of the Jewish people. There were many Israelis who advocated for the lifting of the Gaza blockade. How many of them did Hamas murder? While the Israel Defense Forces have, at times, committed grave injustices against the people of the Gaza Strip, there is no equivalence here.
SJP excuses child murder, rape and terrorism as freedom-fighting. The SJP’s article draws a false parallel with Ukrainian soldiers who are bravely fighting to protect their country from autocracy — perhaps SJP believes Russia’s propaganda about the Azov Brigade but takes no affront. SJP paints Israelis as colonialists, ignoring that the Jewish people have suffered persecution and genocides for thousands of years, ignoring that Israel is a nation besieged by antisemitic powers. Hamas is funded by Iran via Hezbollah and by the Gulf States. Finally, let us not forget the treatment of women by Hamas. SJP, under a faux shroud of progressivism, defends a group which, in 2021, determined that women should not be allowed to travel freely without the permission of a male guardian.
That SJP would call upon the Stanford community to “educate themselves” is frankly insulting given that their article reflects a lack of compassion and a poor understanding of history. To understand the current conflict, one must understand that Hamas does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, as they reaffirmed in 2017. Hamas rejects the notion of any long-term, peaceful solution. While Israel bears some responsibility for the failure of long-term negotiations, Hamas has, at numerous times, incinerated peaceful dialogue. For instance, in 2003 Hamas ended a cease-fire with the suicide bombing of a bus in Jerusalem.
That students at this university could be so thoughtless and base as to defend terrorism, sitting safely in their dorm rooms and living privileged lives, speaks poorly of American society and of social studies departments, which have evidently equipped students with the language to discuss colonialism, but a paucity of understanding.
An anecdote: tucked away under my mother’s desk is an old box of family photos, passed down to us by my great grandmother. A group of wonderful people sit in that box, people my mother was robbed of the opportunity to know by the Nazis and the German concentration camps where they died torturous deaths. Most of their stories my great grandmother took to her grave. It was too painful to talk about them.
I urge the members of SJP to reconsider their position and not, led astray by good intentions, to don the attitudes of Nazis and terrorists. I would rather welcome them as brothers and sisters.
Benjamin Driscoll is a Ph.D. student in the computer science department at Stanford University.
This article was updated on the request of the author to clarify that their position is that Hamas, not SJP, rejects the notion of any long-term, peaceful solution.