Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor in response to “Black and White: The Withheld History of Palestine and Israel” by Anonymous.

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Abel Bellows is a junior at Stuyvesant.

To the Editor:

So many of us at Stuy are directly impacted by October 7 and the ongoing war in Gaza. The hostages’ brutal abduction, the violence of the October 7 terror attacks, and the innocent civilians being killed in the overwhelming Israeli response to Hamas’ attack are horrific and dehumanizing. Whatever one believes about the Israel-Palestine conflict, the state of perpetual conflict in the region is a disaster. We must recognize that the basic needs of Israelis and Palestinians are the same: a lasting peace that allows self-determination, security, safety, and a homeland. 

Professor Susannah Heschel and Professor Tarek El-Ariss, of Dartmouth College, argue that before one speaks about the Israel-Palestine conflict, one should consider the goals for their speech and evaluate whether the words that they chose align with their goals. In “Black and White: The Withheld History of Palestine and Israel,” Anonymous likely hoped to focus our community’s attention on Palestinian suffering. Instead, the inflammatory, one-sided language of the article made many students less willing to engage in conversation with people they disagree with on this issue. Its factual inaccuracies encouraged people who disagreed with the author to focus their energy on rebutting what Anonymous got wrong, potentially at the cost of considering what Anonymous got right. The author is entitled to share their opinion, but the Stuyvesant Spectator has an obligation to ensure that every opinion piece, especially a controversial one, is fact-based. Their failure to do so has led to more misunderstanding. Real harm has been done. 

There has been no forum at Stuyvesant to encourage open, honest, and respectful discussion about this issue. In this absence, students have become reluctant to hear views other than their own. “Black and White: The Withheld History of Palestine and Israel” was the result of these circumstances. In publishing this article in this way, The Spectator missed an opportunity to create this forum for the school. 

For those of us who care deeply about this conflict, however we are entering the issue, it is incredibly challenging not to be drawn to an extreme point of view. In the diverse Stuyvesant community, we have the opportunity to demonstrate that pluralism and difference are not obstacles to peace. Stuyvesant needs to encourage its students to engage in authentic and hard conversations on this issue; to really listen to what others are saying, even if, and perhaps especially if, others’ words are hard to hear. 

I am pro-Israel. I am pro-Palestine. I am pro-peace and pro-future. I hold these beliefs strongly and I hold them without contradiction. I urge us to find the strength, patience, and dignity to pursue the difficult discussions that will make our community stronger and lead us into a peaceful future. 

Abel Bellows