On October 7th, 50 years after the start of the Yom Kippur War, the Islamist militant group Hamas violently attacked Israel without provocation. Over 1,000 terrorists crossed the border, backed by airstrikes from the Gaza Strip. Recent reports reveal over 900 reported deaths and 2,600 injured, per Israeli authorities. As an Editorial Board, The Jefferson Independent wholeheartedly denounces any form of violence, irrespective of the perpetrator. We wish for nothing more than a swift and diplomatic end to this tragedy.
However, the manner in which this conflict is being fought must be illuminated and condemned. By now, many have read of the countless atrocities committed in the last four days. Make no mistake, this is not solely a targeted military operation. Hamas terrorists are murdering innocent civilians in cold blood, kidnapping children, and parading beaten victims as trophies in the street. Most disgustingly, recent IDF reports claim that Israeli soldiers discovered slaughtered babies in Kfar Azza, one of the last villages captured by Hamas (this claim is debated, and IDF currently does not have information that confirms these allegations). The brutal yet frivolous behavior on display as they ruthlessly murder women, children, and senior citizens is a level of hatred only rivaled by the Holocaust.
Aren’t people rushing to condemn acts of terrorism? Who could support such horrible atrocities? It turns out there are groups at universities all over Europe, the United States, and even our very own UVA who seem to believe these actions are completely justified.
The Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Virginia (SJP) released a statement detailing their thoughts on the current situation in Israel. The group has chapters at various college campuses across the country. They have described the terror attacks as “historic wins” and call the Hamas fighters “martyrs.” The statement from the UVA chapter reads: “SJP unequivocally supports Palestinian liberation and the right of colonized people everywhere to resist the occupation of their land by whatever means they deem necessary.” The letter goes on to detail the supposed “genocidal campaign” Palestinians have faced at the hands of Israel for over 75 years.
As a publication that encourages viewpoint diversity, we encourage you to do the research for yourself and come to a conclusion based on your own analysis of history. We must acknowledge that the broader Israel-Palestine conflict has two very different perspectives, deriving from fundamental religious, theological, and political differences. This topic is sensitive and must be handled with maturity.
However, the notion that Israel could even commit such repeated injustices to warrant being attacked in such a manner is utterly ludicrous. Quite the opposite has transpired over the last half-century. There have been numerous attempts to form a two-state solution with Palestine (1937 Peel Commission, 1947 UN Resolution, 2020 Middle East Peace Plan). To provide an exhaustive list would be beside the point. We simply wish to provide a polite refutation to an actual endorsement of Islamic terrorism. The SJP letter reads, “The events that took place are steps towards a free Palestine.” They see this as the right course of action. Are merciless killings, targeting civilians, and refusing to negotiate diplomatically steps in the right direction?
We are concerned that despite widespread media attention and the aforementioned remarks from SJP, we have seen minimal statements from UVA leadership, and are yet to see an official response from its primary student publication, The Cavalier Daily. We find this highly ironic, as, on October 5th, our colleagues at The Cavalier Daily released an unsigned editorial titled “Free Speech Does Not Guarantee Comfort.” Written in response to our paper’s concerns about the true nature of free speech on Grounds, they are quoted as saying, “If folks in our community use the First Amendment as a vehicle to promote bigotry, we must exercise our own rights to ensure these abhorrent actions do not go unchallenged.”
This is in reference to an upcoming event in which author Abigail Shrier will speak about her 2020 book, Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. If you are wondering, the book is simply concerned with young girls potentially making life-altering decisions without fully understanding the consequences regarding their gender. How that is “abhorrent bigotry?” Your guess is as good as ours.
What is abhorrent bigotry is believing that innocent Israeli civilians’ deaths are justified because of a political and religious dispute they are not involved in. If we are to ensure these actions do not go unchallenged, as the CD commands, we are perplexed as to why there has been not even the slightest condemnation of the violence we are witnessing. The lack of a response is deafening and disturbing.
On Thursday, October 12th, SJP plans on conducting a demonstration at the steps of UVA’s Rotunda. The event will take place at 5:30 pm, intended to support the Palestinian liberation while also teaching about its historical context. The Jefferson Independent supports their right to assemble and demonstrate their beliefs, but their explicit celebration of violence must be made known to the university community to promote well-informed, public inquiry.
Israel has retaliated to the attacks with airstrikes on Gaza. The Israeli defense minister, Yoav Gallant, has promised to respond by completely blockading the Strip. He said, “We are imposing a complete siege on Gaza. There will be no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel. Everything will be closed.” While it is not our place to assert a particular course of action, stooping to similar levels of cruelty toward civilians isn’t ideal. As Hamas hides behind the Palestinians, using them as human shields, it is difficult to fight without assuming collateral damage.
Whatever your opinion is on the Israel-Palestine conflict, we are not here to judge. We simply urge those serving our community to condemn what is a clear act of heinous violence. Of all the articles circulating the internet, many vehemently support Israel no matter their response or blatantly support Islamic terrorism.
We have reached a level in our society where simply stating that brutally slaughtering civilians is unacceptable, no matter who does it, takes a back seat in the face of blindly supporting a political agenda. The Jefferson Independent will continue to pioneer reasoned thought and cordial debate in a time and at a university where it seems those ideals are being sacrificed.