Letter to the Editor

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

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Lenny Metlitsky is a junior at Stuyvesant.

Since the early 1900s, the people who live throughout the land known today as Israel and Palestine have suffered greatly. Following the establishment of Israel in 1948, Jews—who were traumatized by the Holocaust and their forced expulsions from Middle Eastern and North African countries—were met with the attempted destruction of the new nation on all sides by the invading armies of Egypt and Syria. Meanwhile, Palestinians refer to the events that occurred in 1948 as the Nakba (Arabic for “catastrophe”), as 700,000 Palestinians fled or were permanently expelled from their homes and land only to face fraught living conditions in the Gaza strip and the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since the 1967 war. 

Today, Israelis mourn the atrocities, terrorism, and sexual violence Hamas committed during the October 7 massacre, and Palestinians are grieving the destruction of Gaza, the family members killed or displaced there, and the humanitarian disaster that has ensued due to Israel’s military campaign. The pain that Palestinians and Israelis, as well as more broadly Jews, Arabs, and Muslims, have all experienced is so widespread that it is forever etched into their communities. This pain shapes their narratives, views, actions, and language today. In Volume 114 Issue 10, Anonymous, the author of “Black and White: The Withheld History of Palestine and Israel,” uses dismissive and inflammatory language to reflect this pain and to represent Palestinian frustration. Yet, in doing so, Anonymous only alienates the readers who would have benefited the most from being reached by the article’s goals, such as the majority of the Stuyvesant Jewish community and many Jewish and Israeli readers.

Throughout the article, Anonymous makes many unsubstantiated claims that generalize history to reject Israel’s legitimacy. For example, Anonymous highlights that “Israel continuously steals land,” repeatedly denying the indigenous history of the Jewish community and equating the violence of radical ultranationalist settlers to all Israelis. Like me, most Jews at Stuyvesant (and within the US) have family members in Israel, feel a connection to the land, and rely on the existence of Israel to fall back on for safety in an increasingly antisemitic world—even as we seek to improve the state for everyone by criticizing the leaders and oppressive policies we disagree with.

Additionally, the author’s refusal to condemn Hamas’s atrocities targeted against civilians feels terrifying to any reader, Jewish or not. While it is valid to discuss one group’s suffering without mentioning another’s, it is not okay to diminish the suffering of one (or worse, justify it) by labeling the attacks on Israeli people as “resistance” because those people are “oppressors.” Such rhetoric has no place in supporting the valid concerns about Israeli government wrongdoing that causes Palestinian suffering throughout Gaza, and this extremist language is just as homogenizing as the type that the Israeli far-right uses, which Anonymous, rightfully, condemns. 

When Anonymous’s central point is that the issue “could not be any more black and white,” they refuse to participate in discussion outright, closing the door to empathy and progress rather than being a part of the solution that we so desperately need. Moreover, Anonymous blatantly denies any history of co-existence, stating that “Israel’s very existence is dependent on the expulsion of Palestinians.” This unnecessarily pits the existence of Israel and Palestine against each other, only further polarizing and perpetuating hate by ignoring the fact that future coexistence is possible through grassroots advocacy, unity efforts, and much-needed changes in both the Israeli and Palestinian governments. Anonymous’s complete disregard for coexistence is not realistic or productive for the 14 million Israelis and Palestinians who live in the region. There is no other solution to this conflict. 

Anonymous clearly wants to end the oppression and suffering of Palestinians—a noble goal. However, Anonymous’s article and its language only serves to perpetuate the cycle of resentment within this conflict and slow down the path towards peace. Effective advocacy for change can only come with an earnest pursuit of empathy for all.