Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
April 21, 2024

The Israel-Hamas war is not too complicated for Hopkins students

By CHARLIE MARGULIES | October 18, 2023

vigil-for-israeli-victims-of-hamas-attack-monday-oct-9-2023-at-golda-meir-square-broadway-and-39th-st-manhattan-4

DEANS CHARBAL / CC BY-SA 4.0

The New York City community held a vigil on Oct. 9 for Israeli victims of Hamas’ attack.

If you ask Hopkins students about what is going on between Israel and Hamas, a common answer you’ll receive is, “It’s complicated.” What’s weird is that this refrain is all that so many people have to say, and that doesn’t quite sit right with me.

Can some of the brightest students in the world not wrap their head around it? We are working on some of the most complicated issues in pandemic response, robotic surgery and U.S. politics, to name a few. When else has the complexity of a problem stopped Hopkins students? Is it really that complicated? I don’t think so.

Every Hopkins student has learned how to break down problems into manageable parts and chip away at them. Whether it is the engineering or humanities classes, a core part of the Hopkins education is learning how to identify problems, isolate variables and use our critical thinking skills to work towards a solution. With these tools, we can break the problem down.

On October 7, Israelis were celebrating the end of the Jewish High Holiday season and completing the Torah throughout Israel, which included a music festival. On that day, Hamas terrorists broke through the Gaza border and indiscriminately shot at and killed civilians, taking over 100 of them hostage. The actions of Hamas are inexcusable. Over the past week, my heart has ached for the senseless murder and inhumane treatment of innocent people at the hands of Hamas. In addition, my heart aches for the Palestinian civilians who have been murdered or those whose lives are being uprooted. They deserve better.

Now, let’s take one step back and learn about what Hamas stands for. A difficult but necessary fact to process is this: Hamas is antisemitic.

Their charter could not be clearer. They quote a prophet, saying: “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.” The charter goes on to claim baseless conspiracies, including one that reads, “[The Jews] were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state.” Read the rest of the charter for yourself. They do not mince words.

From there, you can keep digging into the issue. Learn about the humanitarian aid sent to Gaza that was taken by Hamas to build up their military capabilities. It is not that Gaza has not had the money to invest in schools, roads, hospitals, sewage systems and power plants, but that that money is being intercepted by Hamas. Learn about Israel’s repeated efforts to engage in peace talks with countries throughout the Middle East. Their actions consistently show that Israel is not hungry for land but is really just interested in promoting peace. Learn about Israel and the United States’ attempt to establish a democratic government — the Palestinian Authority — to serve Palestinians, which was ousted from power by terrorists. Learn about the establishment of Israel and why the Jewish people felt it necessary to have a state of their own.

You can continue to go back further and find events that I missed in between. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it is at least a start to understanding the situation, the brutality of Hamas’ actions and their perpetration of the conflict. If you see me as too biased, that is okay, but don’t pretend the issue is too complicated for you. We are Hopkins students; we can do better.

Even though we are not in the classroom where there can be an easy solution, there are still actions we can take towards one. For me, I’ve been trying my best to reach out and support the Hopkins community that I love so much, focusing more on prayer, studying Torah and keeping myself informed on the war. For you, it will be different. Maybe it is texting a friend and letting them know that you are here for them, donating to a charity you feel strongly about, posting something online to express your solidarity or mourning, or taking five minutes every morning to read an article and keep yourself up to date.

Even though it might be easy to just claim the issue is “complicated” and leave it at that, let’s all remind ourselves that we can and should do more.

Charlie Margulies is a junior studying Mechanical Engineering from Watchung, N.J.


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