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The Dartmouth
March 4, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Weinstein, Rosenthal and Steinberg: Fostering Productive Dialogue on the Israel-Hamas War

To engage in productive dialogue in pursuit of peace and human rights, we must acknowledge what Hamas represents.

We, as Jewish students, share in our tremendous grief for the loss of life suffered in Israel and Gaza over the last several weeks. Many of us watched in horror as our friends and family were bombarded by rocket fire; we wept at the murder of innocent civilians and prayed for the safety of our brothers and sisters in captivity. As the members of Hillel and Chabad are diverse in their perspectives on the complex issues facing the Middle East, it is neither our place nor our responsibility to take a political stance on behalf of Dartmouth’s Jewish community.

We cannot remain silent, however, amidst the rampant proliferation of anti-Semitic rhetoric, allegations of moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas and endorsements of reckless violence by otherwise educated students on college campuses across the country. It is in the best interest of all parties to engage in productive, good-faith conversations about the extant issues in Israel and Palestine, but we cannot do so without a shared understanding that there is no defense for the brutal, anti-Semitic terrorism of Hamas.

Hamas does not represent Palestine; they are oppressors of the Palestinian people. They are an organization classified by most Western nations as a terrorist group — one which hoards the wealth of Gaza, uses its own citizens as human shields, criminalizes homosexuality and segregates women. The attack on Oct. 7 was not designed to free Palestinians from Israel, but to kill Israeli Jews with the knowledge that thousands of civilians would die on both sides as a result. We stand in solidarity with all students advocating for human rights, but to do so while legitimizing Hamas is both hypocritical and dangerous.

To better understand the motives of Hamas, we encourage all to read its original charter. In article 22, Jews are accused of instigating political revolts and organizing “secret societies” to sabotage Muslim interests. They are accused of “undermining societies, destroying values, corrupting consciences, deteriorating character and annihilating Islam” through drug trafficking and alcoholism in article 28. Ultimately, the charter declares in article 7 that “The Day of Judgement will not come about” until the Jews are killed. The language of Hamas leaders may have changed, but the ideology has not. Attacks often fall on Jewish holidays, such as the celebration of Simchat Torah on Oct. 7. Hamas is joined in its assault by Hezbollah, a Lebanese terrorist group whose members have propagated theories of Jewish world domination and Holocaust denial. 

If an independent Palestinian state were the sole objective of Hamas, it would not target noncombatants or use human shields; it would not attack the elderly or slaughter young children; it would not abduct, rape and murder Israeli women or parade the bodies of captives through the streets of Gaza.

We as Jewish people live in a state of fear. Abroad, we’ve seen cases of arson at synagogues and riotous protestors chanting “gas the Jews.” We’ve seen swastikas and anti-Semitic vandalism on the streets of our hometowns. We’ve spoken to friends at other Ivy League institutions where hate crimes and threats have become all too common. We’ve even heard our own classmates shout from the Parkhurst lawn, “From the river to the sea,” which we interpret as a form of hate speech calling for the elimination of the state of Israel. 

For Dartmouth to remain a safe and brave space, we must do everything in our power to prevent these sentiments from spreading on campus. In order for us to engage in productive conversations, all parties must agree that it is not only possible, but imperative to support human rights in Palestine without legitimizing the terrorism of their oppressors. To justify the attack of Oct. 7 is to embrace remorseless violence against Jews, strengthen the anti-Semitic canards on which it is based and provide Hamas with further ammunition to kill innocent people.

Let us join together in our grief for the indefensible slaughter of civilians, and in our solemn hope for peace.

Jackson Weinstein ’27 is an active member of both Hillel and Chabad. Jonas Rosenthal ’25 and Mia Steinberg ’25 are members of the student boards of Hillel and Chabad, respectively. Opinion articles represent the views of their author(s), which are not necessarily those of The Dartmouth.

The Dartmouth welcomes guest columns. We request that guest columns be the original work of the submitter. Submissions may be sent to both opinion@thedartmouth.com and editor@thedartmouth.com. Submissions will receive a response within three business days.