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The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Opinion | Reflecting on Israel’s genocide after four months of war

Four months into the genocide in Gaza, we look back at the inaccuracies perpetuated by Israel supporters.
Attendees+plant+flags+during+the+Student+Solidarity+Walkout+at+the+Pentacrest+on+Friday%2C+Nov.+17%2C+2023.+The+demonstration+was+organized+by+the+Iowa+City+Students+for+Justice+in+Palestine.
Sahithi Shankaiahgari
Attendees plant flags during the Student Solidarity Walkout at the Pentacrest on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023. The demonstration was organized by the Iowa City Students for Justice in Palestine.

Last year, just a few weeks after the Hamas attack on Israel that triggered Israel’s genocide against the Palestinian people, I published a column arguing that the U.S. should stop giving money to Israel’s military on account of the atrocities they committed before and after Oct. 7.

Days later, I received a response in defense of Israel. In the headline, the author argued that “context is key.”

The author is absolutely correct: Context is key. So let’s take a look at various facets of the genocide and everything that has happened since Oct. 7.

As I did with my last column, I want to make something extremely clear — committing genocide is absolutely not inherent nor exclusive to Judaism. Genocide is genocide, no matter the religion of those who commit it. Any antisemitism in the Palestinian liberation movement must be rejected and cast out.

Don’t take it from me that this is a genocide. Take it from the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, who called what is happened a “textbook genocide.” Take it from the International Court of Justice which ordered Israel to take more steps to protect civilians. Take it from the 153 countries that have called for a ceasefire.

First, the author expressed concerns that the information on the civilian death toll was not credible because it was being controlled by the Gaza Health Ministry. The author claims that because the ministry is run by the Hamas-controlled government, the number is not to be believed.

If the Gaza Health Ministry is not credible enough, hopefully, the World Health Organization, the United Nations, and even Israel’s own government are. There is no evidence that the Ministry inflated the death count in years past or in this conflict.

The author is also concerned that in addition to an inaccurate death toll, humanitarian aid going into Gaza would not be used for civilians. If  Palestinian civilians do not receive humanitarian aid, it may be because Israel sealed Gaza’s borders and blocked foreign journalists and humanitarian aid.

Since the author is so concerned about potential deliberate inaccuracies from a government body, I invite them to examine a list of provable lies Israel has told, both in years past. While the source for this point is a pro-Palestinian group, you’ll find that they cite neutral, objective journalists and human rights groups.

By the way, that list was published just ten days after Oct. 7.

Since then, I could go on about other lies Israel has told since then. How about the IDF planting guns in Al-Shifa Hospital for a propaganda video that claims Hamas is operating out of hospitals? How about the supposed Hamas “kill list” that ended up just being a calendar?

The author then argues that because Israel used most of the money from the first U.S. aid package to restock the Iron Dome, that I must want innocent Israeli civilians to die. As I’ve said before, I condemn the killing of all innocent civilians. I argued that we should not give the Israeli government any money because I was afraid they’d do exactly what they have done, which is kill over 29,000 people.

The author then attempts to paint Israel as a beacon of human rights that only fights a clean war. He claims Israel doesn’t use human shields. I learned through a quick Google search that Israel has been using human shields since long before Oct. 7, according to Israeli group B’Tselem. It’s completely fair to be concerned about the inhumanity of human shields, but the empathy that fuels that concern should ideally also fuel concern about Israel wiping out entire bloodlines.

The author then claims that Israel tells civilians the area they are going to strike so that civilians can evacuate. Why then is the UN investigating over 50 instances where Israel allegedly struck areas where they told civilians to go? Why did Israel bomb one of the last safe places in Gaza as millions of Americans were distracted watching the Super Bowl?

The author then discusses the cultural and religious history of the region. It would be foolish to dispute that there has been a sustained Jewish history in that land, but no history of that region can justify blowing up innocent children to bits.

Many supporters of Israel claim that the violence would stop if Hamas would release the hostages taken on Oct. 7. I’d like to give a reminder that Hamas has made multiple deal offers to return hostages in exchange for a ceasefire and Israel has refused to even continue negotiations. For Israel, this is not and has never been about the hostages.

Furthermore, to think that this conflict started on Oct. 7 is dead wrong. Between 2000-2014, a Palestinian civilian was 15 times more likely to be killed in the conflict than an Israeli civilian. This conflict has never changed in nature; it’s always been Israel trampling over the land and lives of Palestinian civilians.

Some may argue Hamas interrupted existing peace on Oct. 7, then consider the fact that Israeli forces killed 234 Palestinians in 2023 alone before that date. While the violence has escalated exponentially since then, to think there was no violence before Oct. 7 is ignorant and flat-out incorrect.

It is crucial to remember that Hamas does not represent or encompass the entire Palestinian liberation movement; they are just one agent of it. Before Oct. 7, just 12 percent of Palestinians supported Hamas. That number has risen to 44 percent because, unfortunately, Hamas is the most formidable force fighting back against Israel’s brutality.

Supporting Hamas’ ideology and supporting the Palestinian liberation movement are two separate things, and there is certainly no need to kill entire families to stop Hamas. You can condemn Hamas and their actions while recognizing that they don’t represent the entire Palestinian population and that Israel’s response to their attack has been severely overblown.

It is also important to remember that much of the world is simply calling for a ceasefire. To anyone who supports Israel and opposes a ceasefire, I ask: What do you have to lose? A ceasefire means literally no one gets killed, Israelis and Palestinians alike. If Hamas breaks the ceasefire, much of the world will throw their support behind Israel. If Israel is the victim in this case like they claim they are, they have nothing to lose from a ceasefire.

Global media attention toward this catastrophe is going to start to wane now that we are months into the bloodshed. Please, do not look away. Do not stop publicly stating your support for Palestine. Keep up the pressure on elected officials to call for a ceasefire and halt financial support for Israel.

Many years down the road, the world will inevitably ask the question “How did we let this happen?” Only now can you still choose not to be the answer to that question.


Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


 

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About the Contributor
Evan Weidl, Opinions Editor
he/him/his
Evan Weidl is a senior majoring in political science. He previously worked in the opinions section as a columnist.