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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Israel’s Genocidal War in Gaza: What You Need to Know

Protest at the Minnesota State Capital building. Photo by Cal Martinez ’26.

The people of Gaza have been held in an open air prison for 16 years. They have been deprived of their freedom, subjected to round after round of Israeli airstrikes and shot in the streets for protesting. On Oct. 7th, a coalition of Palestinian resistance forces led by Hamas launched an unprecedented attack against Israel. Roughly 1300 Israelis were killed and nearly 200 are still being held hostage. The Israeli retaliation has been brutal; Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, ordered a “complete siege” of the Gaza strip, saying “no electricity, no food, no water, no gas.” The UN now reports that over 4000 Palestinians have been killed, including 11 journalists and 28 healthcare workers. Many in the Macalester campus community have lost friends and loved ones in the past week, and we are all grieving. 

At the same time, we know that there will be no just or lasting peace until apartheid and occupation end and there is freedom, equality and justice for everyone. Jewish safety is inextricably linked to Palestinian safety; none of us will be free until we all are. Israel is gearing up to carry out unspeakable violence and destruction. Over 1 million Palestinians have been displaced in Gaza, including some who were bombed on their way South through routes that Israel promised would be safe. Gazan hospitals are being deprived of resources they need to treat the sick and wounded by Israeli bombardment and several Gazan hospitals and schools have been bombed. Statements from Israeli leaders in the days after the attack describing Palestinians as “human animals,” claiming civilians are “responsible” for the attack because “they could have risen up,” and promising to inflict revenge that will “reverberate for generations” make clear that this response is not about Israeli safety. As Israel prepares for an imminent ground invasion, Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu declared that the country was engaged in a war between the “children of light and the children of darkness, between humanity and the law of the jungle.” As Jews, we know genocidal rhetoric when we see it.

We all must make a choice. Will we stand for collective punishment or stand up for our collective humanity? Will we as Americans be complacent in the face of the indiscriminate killing of Palestinians with our tax dollars or demand better from our government? Never again” is now.


A Very Brief History of the Conflict

To see the real origins of this conflict, we must look back to the early Zionist movement and the formation of the state of Israel and the Nakba. The Zionist movement for a Jewish national homeland in Palestine began at the end of the 19th century. While Zionists started immigrating to Palestine in increasing numbers, leaders of the movement courted powerful people in powerful countries. They achieved a major victory with the Balfour Declaration, which pledged Britain’s support for a Jewish state in Palestine and was included verbatim in the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine. The Zionist community in Palestine, made up mostly of Jews from Eastern Europe, organized over the next two decades to create what Palestinian historian Rashid Khalidi calls a “para-state,” complete with militias trained by the British during the Arab revolt in 1936-1939. 

In the wake of the Holocaust, the UN announced a plan to partition Palestine, with roughly half of the land going to Jews and half to Palestinians, a proportion that did not match the population. With hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees in Europe who could not go back to where they came from (often because their homes were no longer there), UN support for a Jewish state outside of Europe solved the “Jewish question” without forcing world powers to reckon with the history and reality of antisemitism. 

Well before the UN plan would have gone into effect, Zionist militias began dispossessing Palestinians of their land in both Jewish and Palestinian territory as drawn by the partition plan. British soldiers refused to intervene. Neighboring Arab countries waited until Israel officially declared independence on May 14, 1948, to launch an invasion to defend the people of Palestine. The UN estimates that roughly 750,000 Palestinians were displaced by the end of the war in what Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, or “catastrophe.”

Today, after numerous other conflicts, Palestinians are mostly confined to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel has maintained a military occupation of the West Bank, illegal under international law, since 1967. One of the most prominent features of the occupation is a regime of Palestinian home demolitions. Human Rights Watch found that Israel issues 100 times more home demolition orders than building permits to Palestinians living under direct control in Area C of the West Bank. The situation in Gaza is worse. Israel and Egypt have jointly maintained a siege of Gaza since 2007, heavily restricting the flow of goods like water, food and fuel. Gazans have lived in an open air prison for 16 years, with almost no one allowed in or out.


Who is involved?

The major Palestinian organization that led the attack against Israel is a group called Hamas, a militant Islamist force that has been in control of the Gaza strip since 2007, when Israel ended its direct occupation. Although the founding documents of Hamas are rife with antisemitism, Israel largely “turned a blind eye” to its rise, even partially funding it in the early days, because military leaders saw it as less of a threat than the more secular Palestinian Liberation Organization. Current Israeli leaders have described Hamas as an “asset” in recent years because it hurts the Palestinian cause on the international stage. While Hamas is the main group involved in this attack, it is not the only group. The leftist Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, two leftist militant groups, were also involved in the fighting. Additionally, in the West Bank, the organization Lions Den from Nablus has been engaged in fighting Israeli forces in the Nablus area, as settler-violence has increased in the past weeks and days. 

On the Israeli side, far-right Netanyahu was recently reelected, alongside a coalition of extreme Zionists and ultra-orthodox. This new coalition is the most far-right in Israeli history and includes, for the first time, followers of the extremist Meir Kahane, who in the 70s and 80s, “preached genocide against Palestinians and carried out terrorist attacks.” Ministers in the government include Bezalel Smotrich, the Minister for Finance and self-described “fascist homophobe,” who denies Palestinian people’s existence, telling Arab members of Knesset they were “here by mistake, it’s a mistake that Ben-Gurion didn’t throw you out in 1948;” and Itamar Ben-Gvir, the Minister of National Security and member of the Jewish Power Party, who has been convicted of multiple charges, including “supporting a terrorist organization and incitement to racism,” for his association with Kahanist organizations. This government has escalated attacks in the West Bank (more on that below), pushed an anti-democratic and highly controversial judicial reform agenda and taken legal steps towards total annexation of Area C of the West Bank.


Why Now

The Hamas-led attack was an unprecedented level of violence for the Israeli public, who have never been this vulnerable during a conflict before. For Palestinians, who have faced much worse in the “Hundred Years’ War” on their people, this attack was by no means unprovoked. Food, electricity and clean water shortages are nothing new for the 2 million Gazans who have been cut off from the world in Gaza by a land, air and water blockade jointly maintained by Israel and Egypt since 2007. After decades of bombings and siege, the median age of a Palestinian in Gaza is just 18 years old. The UN predicted in 2012 that the Gaza strip would be completely unlivable by 2020.

The desperate situation is not unique to Gaza. Culminating in a deadly pogrom in Huwara in late February, violence from Israeli settlers in the West Bank has been on the rise with the backing of Israeli military and police. Since 2022, settler violence has forced over 1000 Palestinians out of their homes in the West Bank. Resistance by the Lions Den in the fall of 2022 led to a multi-week siege of the city of Nablus. As another 1000 Palestinians faced forced eviction in Masafer Yatta, Minister Ben Gvir outlawed the Palestinian flag. Related to Hamas’s stated reason for their attack, Israeli police once again brutalized Palestinian worshippers at al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites in all of Islam, this past Ramadan.

In the face of ever-worsening conditions, Palestinians had their backs against the wall. As Israel has continued to jail political dissidents, Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg insightfully answered the question “where is the Palestinian Gandhi?” with this: “They’re in Israeli jail.” International law has not protected them, non-violent resistance has not protected them, the Oslo accords have not protected them, Israeli normalization with Arab governments has not protected them.  With all of these avenues closed off, Israel should not be surprised that caged people would try to break free. 



This conflict is now expanding beyond just Gaza and Israel. In a spiral of retaliation, the Israeli army has bombed Lebanon and Syria in response to attacks from groups within these countries in defense of the people of Gaza. Of course, there are new developments every day. We have been disappointed by calls from US officials for Israel to simply follow international law given that it’s already been broken: the ongoing collective punishment of all people in Gaza and confirmation from Human Right Watch that Israel has made use of banned white phosphorus chemical weapons in Lebanon and Gaza are both war crimes. 

We urge you to call your representatives and demand an immediate ceasefire and end to the deadly siege of Gaza. If we have learned anything from the history of this conflict, it is that Israel will not be restrained in its retaliation. Israeli leaders have said as much themselves. To paraphrase Eva Borgwardt, the political director of IfNotNow, 1000 Israeli deaths is too many. How many Palestinian deaths will be too many? Never again is now.


To materially support urgent relief to Palestinian civilians on the ground, we also ask you to donate to the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) and Doctors Without Borders (MSF), and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees

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  • G

    GGApr 24, 2024 at 11:00 pm

    Always hard to sympathize or digest a talking point when someone calls a terrorist group that raped and murdered civilians a “resistance group lead by Hamas.” The deaths of innocents in Gaza is horrible, but a retaliation by a lawful state like Israel is justified when your people are at risk of annihilation and genocide. It’s the realities of war and is further exacerbated by the conditions that Hamas has created. The Palestinians in Israel that were moved post WWII were because of yet another war, declared by Arab states, that resulted in further loss of land. The attacks from other states recently as you highlight like Lebanon and Syria, were also done by well recognized terror groups and proxies of Iran. It really is disheartening to see people at my alma mater who believe these stories and tales that twist the history of the region for their own wicked purposes. Israel isn’t a perfect place, but they are hardly the aggressor in this conflict. If you’re on the side of terrorists, and allies of terrorists, you should probably reevaluate your opinions.

  • J

    JimNov 30, 2023 at 12:20 pm

    As a MAC graduate, while not surprised, I find the article depressing and agree with many comments below. Justifying HAMAS atrocities reminds me of the German American Bund in the US before WW2. These people, prattling on about Israel, should be forced to move to Israel or Palestine: guess where they would go.

    The Palestinians have been mistreated, somewhat by Israel, but more by Arab countries using them as a pawn, HAMAS, and the PLO.

  • J

    JakeNov 5, 2023 at 9:50 pm

    Free Palestine! Ceasefire now!

  • E

    EENov 5, 2023 at 1:39 pm

    This is a wonderful and cogent article! Very glad to see the work IfNotNow Macalester is doing on campus.

  • J

    Jonah WexlerOct 28, 2023 at 10:23 am

    As a Jewish alumni of Macalester…thank you for your bravery and honesty in this moment. Keep on fighting the good fight and ignore the rubbish below me in this section. To adopt and modify a famous quote, history will absolve you and all those fighting for Palestinian liberation.

    • R

      RPNov 3, 2023 at 1:36 pm

      You’re an “alumnus”, Jonah, unless your gender is plural.

  • N

    [email protected]Oct 26, 2023 at 3:33 am

    I agree with this article.
    Norman Watkins ’79

  • B

    Bowman HortonOct 22, 2023 at 8:03 pm

    I remember what it was like to be 19 and think I knew everything, but even so, this article was grossly simplistic and over-the-top.

  • A

    Andrew CohenOct 21, 2023 at 5:19 pm

    Setting aside for the moment the genuinely poor writing of this article that reads like something concocted by ChatGBT, as well as its basic lack of decency in its refusal to even acknowledge the suffering of Israelis in the wake of the October 7th attack, and too its absurdly over-simplified history of the region, I’m trying to remember another example of an opinion piece in even a bad newspaper that I’ve ever read that was written by an outside organization without any individual names associated with the writing. But I can’t, of course, since opinion pieces like this with no authorship VIOLATE ALL EDITORIAL STANDARDS AND ETHICS.

    More than anything, then, this piece reflects terribly on Macalester College in general and in particular the Mac Weekly, whose young and undoubtedly well-intended staff should really be educated regarding their important role as editors and journalists and the responsibilities therein.

    Faculty mentors, where are you? Surely the newspaper of a school that claims in its Statement of Purpose and Beliefs that its students “should be prepared to take responsibility for their personal, social, and intellectual choices . . . [and} choose actions or beliefs for which they are willing to be held accountable” can and ultimately needs to do much better than this.

    • D

      DavidNov 3, 2023 at 7:47 am

      Faculty mentors, where are you?

      How about Macalester Administration and Faculty, where are you? Any of you?

      The problem: they all seem to condone this, and probably agree with the vile words and cruel intent. Silence is consent.

      What can you do about it? Stop donating money and time to the school. Stop attending alumni functions. Tell parents of high school students that this isnt a good place for Jews or anyone who believes that what hamas did was reprehensible and insane.

      The alumni magazine ironically featured a photo of a “no place for hate” mural on its back cover. Macaleter is now demonstrably a place for hate of Jews and as they would see it, dissidents (by Macalester’s standards), who support the Jewish state and people.

      • M

        MKNov 3, 2023 at 4:51 pm

        Thank you so much. As a parent of a Jewish student, I cannot believe what the administration is supporting. I have sent emails to the President where the response has been ridiculous. Thank you for speaking up.

  • A

    Alex BerlinOct 20, 2023 at 10:36 pm

    I didn’t know the Mac Weekly featured works of fantasy fiction! I’m sure Ron DeSantis and his supporters would approve of this simplistic, unnuanced, our-side-is-the-good-guys, the-other-side-is-the-bad-guys narrative the unnamed authors of this piece have presented for their history and current events curriculum. I hope that isn’t the case at Macalester College.

    It would take hours to review each of the inaccuracies and out-and-out fictions included here. I am sure the students of Macalester College have the academic ability and the intellectual curiosity to seek additional information on the topics presented here as they like. I hope they and their instructors also have the moral courage to do so.

  • M

    MaxineOct 20, 2023 at 7:59 pm

    Boy are you naive. You are privileged to have grown up in a safe bubble, in the United States, and so far away from the Holocaust that you can not recognize the precarious position of Jews, everywhere in the world. There is no country, no state that would tolerate the kind of ongoing terrorism. The Hamas has perpetrated against Israel.

    Yes, the Palestinians are suffering. But they elected Hamas who’s in through their political opponents off roofs in Gaza.

    They are not currently being occupied, nor have they been since the Israelis withdrew.

    Had they spent the billions of dollars they’ve gotten an aid on infrastructure instead of building, tunnels in purchasing arms, they wouldn’t need outside sources of electricity and food and water.

    Yes, it’s true not all Palestinians are Hamas, but enough of them are in the broader Muslim an Arab world have done absolutely nothing to stop hummus, and help the Palestinian people.

    The Israelis do not have genocidal intent towards the Palestinians. But clearly Hamas has genocidal intent towards Israel and Jews. As do Muslims all over the world.

    Your version of history is skewed by your safety and your privilege. Shame on you.

  • C

    CarolynOct 20, 2023 at 4:14 pm

    It’s reprehensible that Macalester allowed this anti-Semitic propaganda to be published. I note that the authors are unnamed, which makes it easy for them to spew lies and misinformation. This screed is not just designed to foment hatred and even violence against Macalester’s small Jewish student population, it’s entirely wrong on the facts.

    The history of this conflict is way more nuanced and complicated than this format allows, but to counter the authors’ clear bias and misinformation, it’s important to emphasize that Jews and Arabs have both lived in the land of Israel and Palestine for thousands of years. It’s an anti-Semitic lie to suggest that Jews weren’t there before the early 1900s. British involvement around that time increased tensions and there was violence and bloodshed perpetrated by both groups. The ACTUAL genocide of European Jews created an influx of Jewish refugees and pressure for a Jewish homeland. Jews were entirely willing to share the land in 1948 but Arab nations launched a war that was disastrous for the Palestinians. Arab nations launched 2 more wars in 1967 and 1973, which both resulted in Palestinians losing more land. It’s a heartbreaking disaster for Palestinians, but the cause of this calamity is way more complicated that these authors suggest.

    Like most counties, Israel is not perfect. The Netanyahu government is terrible, and too many Arab citizens and other minorities don’t have equal access. However, it’s important to point out that Israel HAS Arab citizens with full voting rights and Arab political parties and Mosques where Arabs are allowed to worship largely in peace. (The Al-Asqa mosque attack was terrible, certainly.) The only Jews in Gaza are those who were kidnapped from their homes on 10/7 and are currently being held hostage, including babies, children, and elderly survivors of the Holocaust. Jews have been OFFICIALLY outlawed from every other Arab country in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Territory. It’s disgusting that the title of this submission was allowed to describe Israel as committing a genocide when the actual opposite is in fact true.

    What the authors also failed to mention is that Israeli society has a vibrant Peace movement with many of its citizens actively advocating for a 2 state solution. Many of the Israeli citizens murdered on 10/7 worded tirelessly for the Palestinians to have a workable country. In its history, Israel has often traded land for True Peace. There are racists in Israel (like everywhere) but most of its citizens want to live in peace with Palestinians and provide them with land and dignity and independence. Just like not all Americans like what Donald Trump did, not all Israelis like Netanyahu. The Israeli street protests against Netanyahu in the past 9 months have been much larger, more active, more persistent, and more effective than anything done to protest Donald Trump.

    The authors of this piece understandably point to terrible violence from Israeli settlers. But they fail to mention that even before 10/7, Arab terrorists also regularly kill Israelis throughout Israel in bombings, stabbings, and other attacks. It’s that violence that led to the security wall and other steps to limit Palestinian movement into Israel. However, all Israeli citizens, including its many Arab citizens, move freely through the country. There is too much violence on both sides. Still, I would have hoped that Macalester would demand better fact checking and less bias before publishing such an incendiary piece.

    It turns my stomach to think of unnamed arm-chair activists sitting comfortably in Minnesota describe Hamas terrorists as a coalition of Palestinian resistance fighters when those terrorists hunted, tortured, killed, and kidnapped people who were actually working for peace. Most Palestinian people did not support the attack on 10/7. Like most Israelis, they want to live in peace and create a future for their children. This attack has made that more difficult because Israel has not choice but to respond in order to avoid more violence from terrorists. The war is terrible and it breaks my heart and my soul that innocent Palestinians are being killed. But don’t twist the facts—this is not about retribution, this is about Israel defending Jewish lives and not trusting a world that regularly accepts and even celebrates dead Jews.

    We all now know what people mean when they write “from the river to the sea…” on white boards in Macalester dorms and around the Macalester campus. We understand now that they want all of us Jews dead. It doesn’t matter if we’re babies, or disabled children, or working for peace and a 2 state solution, or protesting Bibi in the streets, or a 100 year old Holocaust survivor. If we’re Jewish, the people who write that, want us all dead. That’s why it’s critical that Israel exists. Let’s hope and work for a world where Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and dignity.

    • A

      Alex BerlinOct 21, 2023 at 8:47 am

      Thank you for this thoughtful and respectful response.

    • L

      LisaOct 21, 2023 at 6:44 pm

      This is an eloquent and thoughtful reply, Carolyn.

    • D

      davidOct 30, 2023 at 4:37 pm

      The fact that this piece was allowed to run without names attached to it is a disgrace. The fact that the administration does not appear to have addressed this with alumni in any way is repressible.

      I have donated money to the school ever year for nearly 39 years, earmarked for financial aid. No more.

      If I was a Jewish student at Macalester I would leave immediately. It’s clearly not a safe place, and the administration doesn’t seem to think you matter. I will certainly make this known to parents of high school students know this.

      This is not the school I attended.

      I am embarrassed to be an alumni

      • D

        David HuntNov 2, 2023 at 11:17 am

        This is not unique. Jewish students are being collectively punished around the country, and Jews in general around the world.

    • D

      David HuntNov 2, 2023 at 11:23 am

      Citing Shoah survivor Elie Wiesel: “When someone says they want to kill you, believe them”.

      These JINOs / Plopping Jews (search on youtube) have forgotten that NEVER AGAIN lesson.

  • J

    JesseOct 20, 2023 at 2:37 pm

    Your group is a joke:

    What do you think the slogan you chalk all over campus “From the river to the Sea” means. You preach genocide like it is your job. Your group clearly is no better than the terrorists of Hamas.

    • J

      JoshOct 20, 2023 at 3:09 pm

      Preach!! Long live the Zionist state!

  • K

    Karen BernsteinOct 20, 2023 at 1:43 pm

    Macalester students are too young to remember what September 11, 2001 felt like. They are too young to have been aware of the horror Al Quaeda brought to Americans. Americans sought out Al Quaeda and spent a decade hunting down its leadership.

    Israel will do the same to Hamas. Israel will use the best of its ability to minimize civilian deaths while doing what it needs to do to rid the world of this death cult. Two million Palestinians have been held hostage by Hamas and Iran. That’s where the blame lies.

    Is it time to help Palestinians find a future they need and want? Yes. Does that mean Israel should stop pursuing Hamas? No. There is no excuse for terrorism. Hamas murdered the very people who had been working in favor of peace and security for Palestine. Enough.

  • D

    David HuntOct 20, 2023 at 7:35 am

    How does Israel co-exist with an entity whose very foundational document calls for Israel’s annihilation? The Hamas charter is crystal clear: DEATH TO JEWS, DEATH TO ISRAEL.

    As to international law, where is your condemnation of multiple Geneva Convention violations on the part of the Arabs?

    Gaza could be the Singapore of the MIddle East. Beautiful beaches, proximity to tourist sites in both Israel and Egypt, and a prime trade location. But instead 90% of the Arabs there have as their priority KILL JEWS.

    You cannot co-exist with someone who denies your right to exist.

    And, especially, shame on you. Closing with Shoah survivor Elie Wiesel, “When someone says they want to kill you, believe them.” The Arabs have said this openly, many times, over the years.

    If Israel loses it will be a slaughter like Khaybar.