Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Perspective: Let’s listen to our peers most affected by the Israel-Hamas war

When I planned my bat mitzvah, went to Savta’s house for Passover, and marked every Hanukkah, Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat, I never imagined I’d have to defend my Judaism to the world. But now I do.

I am a Jewish first-year student at GW, where I’ve always felt accepted, wanted and safe. That’s changed. While I’ve never felt like my life is in danger, I feel scared to express the person I am and the beliefs that I have — what will people say to me if they take my message the wrong way?

I shouldn’t be scared to say that the United Nations should condemn Israel for the war crimes it has committed and the thousands of Palestinian children and innocents it has slaughtered. I feel Israel needs to be held accountable and that innocent people deserve justice. But I’m scared to say this because then I’m a “fake Jew.” Am I an imposter? What will my family and friends think?

At the same time, I shouldn’t be afraid to say I believe terrorism is terrorism. Hamas needs to be quashed because the only way to free the people of Palestine is to rid the Earth of Hamas. Walking out of Gelman Library and seeing “Glory to our martyrs” projected onto the wall scared me, and I cannot believe officials allowed that to happen — the University’s statement afterward felt like it was saving face. Seeing posters of missing Israeli children crumpled up or torn down around campus makes me wonder if there is any good left in this world. But I’m afraid to say all of this because then I’m “Islamophobic.”

Again, I’m not afraid for my physical safety — I’m afraid to talk about such heavy issues for fear of how other people will react. But my fear about nothing being done about injustices in our world overpowers any fear I have about speaking up.

I want to do my part and speak up, especially after last weekend’s protests in D.C. Innocent Israelis who were killed on Oct. 7 and families who have since been killed in airstrikes in the Gaza Strip all deserve the same justice. But for every 99 peaceful protesters who just want the best for the Palestinian people, it seems that another person will defend terrorism.

Posting infographics, projecting messages and tearing down posters won’t give anyone justice. It just spreads hate. The only thing that will bring anyone justice is if we band together and listen to our peers who are at the center of this conflict — not just the people who are shouting the loudest and the angriest. We need to put our differences aside for one minute and realize we are more similar than we are different.

Listen to the voices of the Israeli students at last month’s vigil: Their friends and family back home sent them texts, what may have been their final words, explaining how much they mean to them or letting them know they have been called up as reservists to defend their country. Hear the stories of Palestinian students: Whole branches of their families have been killed, they cannot get in touch with relatives who survived and they may never be able to go home again.

These are the stories of real people — people who lived and died and deserve justice. These are the stories we need to promote, not yelling back and forth until the point of exhaustion.

I am tired of trying to speak louder than people who speak nonsense, tired of writing so my voice can be heard, tired of not being listened to. If you want to call me names and tell me I’m doing something wrong, go ahead. But we must open our ears and listen.

Jenna Fox, a first-year majoring in political science and communications, is an opinions writer.

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