I am a professor of English at Las Positas College. I am Jewish by heritage. My own distant cousins live in Kibbutz Be’eri, which was attacked on Oct. 7. More than 100 Jews were murdered there that day.
One cousin of mine fought the Hamas terrorists and was wounded in the knee. His wife’s sister was kidnapped and killed.
Given this context, I feel I have some legitimacy and responsibility to speak up in a public way. It’s long past due, but to be honest, I’ve been deterred by our climate of hate. However, I can no longer remain silent and respect myself as a human being.
The attack on Israeli civilians was an inexcusable act of terrorism. The oppression and killing of Palestinian civilians in Gaza before and after that attack were also inexcusable acts of terrorism. Though these acts are inexcusable, they are not inexplicable in a historical context.
As a college community—professors, staff and students alike—we must demonstrate an alternative to violent conflict and a dedication to academic honesty. We must educate each other through dialogue on this complex and ancient conflict in a peaceful and honest way that respects the pain and fear in all our communities. Ad hominem attacks will not change minds or create positive action. Instead, they will incite more conflict and resentment and, potentially, violence. We must place ourselves in each other’s shoes and steep ourselves in history to understand each other’s perspectives. Only then can we work together.
I understand that it is difficult to act with such civility while civilians and children are being killed in our name.
The Oct. 7th attack by Hamas killed approximately 1,200, mostly Jewish, people, including women, the elderly and 35 children. 240 people were taken hostage. “Thousands of terrorists broke through the border fence and slaughtered families in their homes and on the streets, as well as party-goers at a rave. Some victims were tortured, raped, burned and mutilated, with many of the acts filmed by the perpetrators. The attackers also killed hundreds of soldiers situated near the border.”
On the other side, for some context, thousands of Palestinian civilians have been killed over the past 15 years. The death toll for children alone has been unfathomable over the last two decades “Between Sept. 2000 and Oct. 6, 2023, DCIP, Defense for Children International: Palestine, independently verified that Israeli forces and settlers killed 2,187 Palestinian children throughout the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”
According to Hamas itself, 11,000 Palestinian civilians, including thousands of children, have been killed in Gaza in the past month.
With statistics such as these, can anyone doubt that Israel, with the support of the US, is creating many more future enemies around the world than it is killing?
We must call on our U.S. representatives for a cessation of the bombardment of Gaza and for immediate aid to civilians in distress. We must also call for all hostages to be released by Hamas while funding the Iron Dome defensive system. In addition, we must call for the arrest and prosecution of all terrorists and war criminals on both sides of the conflict.
We cannot continue to aid and abet more terrorism without becoming terrorists ourselves.
On the home front, our college communities are beginning to fray. Let us all be examples of solving problems respectfully and peacefully, the way we would like the rest of the world to act.
Professor Richard Dry