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Letter to the Editor: There is no moral equivalence, Hamas must be condemned  

On Oct.7, Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel’s southern border from Gaza, massacring over 1,400 people, leaving more than 4,500 wounded, and abducting upwards of 240 hostages.

One of the deadliest scenes unfolded at a music festival along the Israel-Gaza border. A video captured moments before the onslaught shows young adults dancing, immersed in the ecstasy of music. But as the camera panned, a sinister shadow of the impending devastation loomed ­– ominous plumes in the sky, approaching hand gliders, armoured vehicles and the unmistakable silhouettes of Hamas terrorists brandishing their deadly arsenals. Among the innocent festival-goers was Shani Louki, a German-Israeli woman who epitomized the spirit of the celebration. Yet, in a disturbing testament to the terrorists’ sheer inhumanity, footage revealed a lifeless Shani, paraded by her killers. Another woman’s desperate pleas — “Help me, I don’t want to die” —  were captured as she was abducted. The rampage extended to homes, where Hamas unleashed horror on families — slaughtering the young, old and everyone in between. Chen Kugel, the head of Tel Aviv’s National Center for Forensic Medicine, confirmed a tragic revelation: victims in Israel spanned from the age of three months to 90 years. The haunting question Kugel struggles with isn’t whether children were decapitated, but the horrific manner in which it occurred: before or after death, and by knife or RPG?

The brutality of this attack is unlike anything many of us have ever seen. But as hard as it may be to recount these events, we must. We must confront these atrocities head-on, not only to honour those like Shani Louki but to challenge the twisted narrative upheld by those denying or justifying this tragedy. An Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesperson has stated that their military actions are specifically targeted at Hamas combatants, emphasizing that their operations are not directed against Palestinian civilians. The IDF has also reported hitting 2,600 targets associated with what they classify as ‘terrorist’ activities in their retaliatory airstrikes. Highlighting the reality that Israel’s conflict is with Hamas, not the Palestinian people at large, challenges the oversimplified portrayal of Israel as a monstrous aggressor raining down airstrikes on Gaza without reason or remorse. These misconceptions lead not only to baseless antisemitism, as evidenced by the Anti-Defamation League’s report of 190 violent incidents against Jews in the U.S. from Oct. 7 to 23  along with 109 anti-Israel rallies supporting Hamas in the same period, but they also shift focus away from a critical truth: for the well-being of both Israeli and Palestinian civilians, it’s Hamas, not Israel, that should garner widespread condemnation.

Much of the activism on university campuses today seems less about promoting hope and peaceful dialogue, and more about silencing the truth, all while tacitly endorsing the actions of Hamas. At Western University, students displayed a jarring lack of empathy, attempting to rob the hostages of their very humanity by tearing down posters bearing their faces. Meanwhile, our campus rock at the University of Calgary proudly displayed both the Palestinian and Israeli flags, encircled by pleas for peace and unity. Yet, it was quickly overridden by the Palestinian flag only. Those who dare to advocate for a more balanced perspective — those who highlight the plight of countless women and children victimized in Israel — are met with hostility and rebuke. Like our U of C President Edward McCauley who was excoriated by the Muslim Student Association (MSA) for condemning Hamas’ attack against Israel. The President, offering resources to help the innocent in both Gaza and Israel was met with reproach. The MSA’s grievance? That past adversities faced by Palestinians weren’t highlighted, as if such past grievances could ever justify the cold-blooded carnage that ensued.

On Oct. 27, Students Supporting Israel (SSI) and StandWithUs tabled at UofC’s science theatres, aiming to shed light on hostages in Gaza. What was intended to be a dialogue became a deluge of pro-Palestinian arguments, echoing familiar narratives. One disturbing perpetuation: that Hamas is merely a resistance movement against Israeli occupation, likening its actions to an underdog standing up to a bully. Hamas, however, won the parliamentary elections in the Gaza Strip in 2006, following Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the area in 2005, resulting in the evacuation of all 25 Jewish settlements and 9000 Jewish residents. Moreover, Hamas does not hide its intentions. It’s stated, black on white, in their very charter.

“Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”

And if that wasn’t clear enough, they go on:

“The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

Other distorted views arose when discussing confirmed events — which are vehemently denied because they challenge prevailing narratives. For instance, On Oct.17, the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza was thrust into a media storm following its bombing. Immediate claims insinuated Israel was responsible for hundreds of deaths. The New York Times headlined “Israeli Strike Kills Hundreds in Hospital, Palestinians Say,” later revising this headline for accuracy. Israel’s initial silence was misconstrued as guilt. Yet, within hours, evidence emerged: the rockets came from Gaza itself. Video proof confirmed this trajectory. 

Further, a leaked Hamas communication discussed the misfired rocket hitting the hospital, cementing it as an internally misfired projectile. However, the aftermath of the incident quickly spiralled, with global reactions condemning Israel based on largely unverified reports. Worldwide, protests surged — Israeli embassies in the Middle East were targeted with chants of “death to Israel.” In New York, the Star of David flag was burnt in celebration, while customers at a Jewish diner were harassed during a pro-Palestine rally in Toronto. Many of these protestors, who were so vocally incensed by unverified reports, remained conspicuously silent, even dismissive, when confronted with verified accounts of atrocities committed by Hamas terrorists in Israel. Their outcry was reserved solely for uncorroborated news that aligned with their narrative.

The overall message from certain Palestinian supporters is unambiguous: Israel’s existence should be nullified. The chants echoing through the streets — in Toronto and New York — resonate with a directive: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Make no mistake: the intent behind these words is not just solidarity with Gaza. It’s a blaring call for the erasure of Israel, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. This stance is neither proportionate, logical, nor fitting for those claiming a moral high ground.

The dangers that both Israelis and Palestinians face emanate from the unabated terror propagated by Hamas. Israel not only has the right, but a profound duty to defend its citizens and the values of freedom, democracy and peace that we in Canada cherish. While the tragedies in Gaza are heart-wrenching, cries for Israel to show restraint are both unrealistic and hypocritical, as no sovereign nation would tolerate such threats to its people. Israel strives to limit civilian harm, even as Hamas strategically places military bases in civilian infrastructure. To set the record straight: Israel isn’t fighting against the Palestinian people; it’s fighting against a terrorist organization that has the annihilation of Israel as its stated goal. And at this moment, following an attack of this magnitude, it is abundantly clear: for the safety and well-being of both Palestinian and Israeli civilians, Hamas can no longer exist.

– Matej Harsany in collaboration with Students Supporting Israel (SSI), StandWithUs Canada, and Calgary Hillel 

Letters to the Editor published in the Gauntlet do not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet editorial board. The Gauntlet retains the right to edit submissions for brevity and clarity.

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