No, Israel Is Not to Blame for Terrorist Attacks
Hamas parades through Gaza.
These past few weeks, pro-Palestinian groups on college campuses across the country have lauded the terrorist group Hamas’s barbaric attacks against innocent civilians. Fifty-one student organizations at UC Berkeley vowed their “unwavering support” for the the October 7 slaughter of hundreds of innocent Israeli civilians; the Ohio State University’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) described the attacks as a “heroic resistance”; and Swarthmore College’s SJP “honors the martyrs’” and celebrates the “resistance” for having “paid the ultimate sacrifice for our liberation.”
I was not surprised to see student groups in Claremont produce a similar statement refusing to condemn the cold-blooded murder and kidnapping of hundreds of innocent civilians. The statement was published on October 8 by the Claremont SJP and Claremont Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). Twelve other student groups, including the Pitzer Queer Trans Alliance, 5C Prison Abolition Collective and Divest Claremont Colleges signed on as well.
Their statement makes no mention of the bodies that were bound, shot, burned and left behind in dumpsters. It makes no mention of the Hamas terrorists who beheaded innocent men and women with a hoe. They argue that “Palestinians are rising up to fight against violent colonialism and the illegal Israeli settlements built on top of depopulated Palestinian villages.” Instead of condemning the Hamas terrorists who carried out the attack, they choose to blame civilian victims. They allege that the victims are complicit in “the ongoing Nakba and continued dispossession of Indigenous land.” They make no mention of Hamas by name, nor do they distinguish the death of civilians from terrorists.
Most egregious of all is the language SJP and JVP use to describe the attacks. They proclaim that “we are forever learning from this courageous revolutionary struggle as we maintain our commitment to standing against colonial violence everywhere in all its forms.” I ask how this horrific attack contributes to an education. What can one learn from rape, kidnapping and baby-killing?
In what can only be interpreted as a brazen attempt to justify the attacks, the statement cites the Geneva Convention, which describes a “right to armed resistance to occupation.” There is, however, a great irony in SJP and JVP bringing up the Geneva Convention. Hamas murdered, tortured and raped civilians, which violates Common Article 3 and Articles 27 and 32 of the Geneva Convention. Hamas made no attempt to distinguish civilian targets from military targets, violating Article 13 of 1987 Additional Protocol (II). Hamas looted and pillaged villages, violating Article 33.
In the United States, leaders from both parties have largely unequivocally condemned Hamas’s attacks and vowed to stand with Israel. President Biden called the attacks “pure, unadulterated evil.” Former President Trump promised to “fully support” Israel, and former Ambassador Nikki Haley said, “I would tell Israel, whatever it is you need to not just get your country back, to eliminate the terrorists, we should do.” But SJP and JVP? They believe that “this Uprising is part of a continued decolonial struggle and an affirmation of Palestinians' unwavering fight for liberation.”
Similarly, some, such as those who signed the Scripps Alumni Solidarity Statement, have said that there should be a ceasefire. Should we trust a terrorist organization like Hamas to stick to their word? Moreover, should the United States have entered a ceasefire after the Pearl Harbor attacks? How about 9/11? This line of thinking dismisses the on-the-ground reality that any nation attacked the way Israel was on October 7 has a right to defeat the terrorists and protect its people from continued security threats.
Israel and the international community face a complicated set of choices in how it responds to the attacks. But what should be uncomplicated is recognizing that what Hamas did on October 7 was pure evil. However, the SJP and JVP statement takes a different approach, “As students in the settler colony United States, on the unceded and occupied territory of the Tongva people, it is our duty to take a stand against the apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and structural violence that our government funds.”
Quite the contrary. As students in the United States, we must champion our nation’s enduring principles of freedom and liberty and take a stand against terrorism. No ifs, ands or buts. Make no mistake – this is a fight between good and evil, freedom and tyranny.
I agree that “the loss of any and all life is a tragedy,” including innocent Palestinian civilians who have suffered for nearly two decades under Hamas’s rule. It’s important to recognize, however, that Hamas is to blame. They deliberately use Palestinian civilians as human shields, placing their military infrastructure and firing rockets from schools and hospitals. Additionally, despite the people of Gaza desperately needing food and fuel, “Hamas has hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel for vehicles and rockets; caches of ammunition, explosives and materials to make more; and stockpiles of food, water and medicine,” as the New York Times reports.
Former Senator Ben Sasse, the president of the University of Florida, was spot-on when he wrote in response to the attacks, “I will not tiptoe around this simple fact: What Hamas did is evil and there is no defense for terrorism. This shouldn’t be hard.” I hope my peers realize that, too.
Editor's Note: Pierre Aronnax is the chosen pseudonym of the author, who asked to remain anonymous.