Letter to the Editor: Questioning the claims of a genocide in Gaza

| Class of 1997

In regards to your April 21 article “Student demonstration in solidarity of suspended peers disbanded by administrators,” I object to you printing two quotations without a necessary fact check or a question asking the speakers to validate their statements.

First: “I saw the videos. I thought it was a pretty heroic statement by the students who are concerned about the ongoing genocide in Palestine,” Bret Gustafson said.

Second: “We were very intentional when organizing this — we [did] not want to do chants or occupy space in a way that is disruptive or obstructs the normal activity of the [South] 40,” Sonal Churiwal said. “This was performance art that was done in solidarity with Palestinians who are living under genocide and with students, especially Black and brown students, who have been facing the wrath of the overly punitive measures of WashU.”

The Palestinians are not and have never been “living under genocide.” Hamas, the elected government of Gaza, has repeatedly stated they are determined to commit a genocide against all Jewish people, in Israel and beyond. Israel’s military approach is clearly designed to minimize civilian casualties.

Gustafson and Churiwal have a First Amendment right to use the term “genocide.” The freedom of speech includes the freedom to lie or to say things that might be false (I won’t presume to know if these people were lying or ignorant).

The problem is that Student Life did not ask follow-up questions pressing them to explain how what is happening to the Palestinians is a genocide.

The history of this is simple and fresh. Hamas, the elected government of Gaza, launched an unprovoked and barbaric attack on innocent civilians in Israel on Oct. 7, 2023. In my opinion, everything the Israeli military has done to Palestinians in Gaza since that date is a direct result of the act of war perpetrated by Hamas.

Israel’s military response has been precise and methodical, warning Palestinians in Gaza in advance in an attempt to minimize civilian casualties. It is, however, unavoidable that civilians will die during any war. Hamas places their citizens in harm’s way because it wants Palestinians to be caught in the crossfire; then easily manipulated Americans will accept the Hamas propaganda and think they are righteous to protest in support of Palestinians and Gaza.

Anyone who cared about the quality of life in Gaza would be able to see that Hamas is the root cause of suffering there and that suffering began long before Oct. 7.

There is no genocide against the Palestinians. As journalists, you have an ethical duty to push back on statements that are provably untrue. Do better.

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