Student Perspectives on the Israel-Hamas War

The Spectator released an anonymous form giving students the chance to share their lived experiences, thoughts, and perspectives on the Israel-Hamas war.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The Spectator released an anonymous form giving students the chance to share their lived experiences, thoughts, and perspectives on the Israel-Hamas war. The form received 29 responses. The Spectator published 4 of these. Quotes were selected to reflect the diversity of responses The Spectator received. This selection of quotes does not reflect the opinions of The Spectator. Quotes were not edited prior to publication. 

As we stand on the cusp of adulthood, Stuyvesant students are tasked with the challenge of forming our own opinions in the midst of immense misinformation from the media. For many of us, our outlooks are shaped by those who raised us and our surrounding environments. It is critical that we recognize our personal biases and approach the viewpoints of others with an open mind. 

It is our responsibility to seek out credible information and consume varied sources of news. Consider these perspectives a starting point to launch further research and facilitate respectful discussions.

Trigger Warning: Please be aware that this content may be upsetting for those affected by the Israel-Hamas War. 


“On the morning of Saturday, October 7, my dad woke me up and told me there was a war in Israel. As a Jew with many loved ones living there, as well as a deep personal connection to the country, I was terrified. I began to cry uncontrollably because the minute I opened my phone it was flooded with notifications that hundreds of civilians had been kidnapped, murdered and mutilated. I got in contact with my family and friends that live in Israel or were currently visiting, making sure they were safe. Within hours most of them had lost people they knew, and within days so did I. My heart was broken. What exacerbated my pain was that I saw many Stuyvesant students posting on social media justifying the terror attacks. It horrified me that they were supporting Hamas terrorists that were endangering my own family. Terrorists that explicitly stated in their charter that their goal was and is to kill as many Jews as possible. My classmates’ initial reactions to the events that began on October 7 being anything but sheer horror was unbelievable to me, and the fact that they were making excuses for why it was okay to kill Israelis made me sick. Friday October 13 was one of the scariest days of my life, because a former Hamas official called for people worldwide to kill Jewish people. Some of my Jewish friends did not come to school that day. As hate for Israel increases so does antisemitism all over the world. I wish that in times like these that the student population at our school could try to educate themselves on what is really going on, and have some compassion, especially keeping in mind how their words and actions affect others.”


“I’ve seen a lot of polarized opinions on this subject on social media. I’ve seen #FreePalestine supporters being called antisemitic and pro-Israel individuals being called colonizers. I see both sides, but it is also a fact that both Israel and Hamas, which has been equated with Palestine, have committed atrocities.

One of the bigger misconceptions in common knowledge is that Hamas equals Palestine. This is not accurate. While Palestinians have endured horrible living conditions, it is not accurate to say that all Palestinians wanted over 1,300 Israeli citizens dead (and over 3,300 injured) and that they wanted to start a war that would result in 2,750 Palestinians being killed (and 9,700 injured) by Israeli strikes on Gaza.

Some people who post #FreePalestine on their social media don’t necessarily support Hamas’ actions, instead they support the Palestinian cause. Some people who post pro-Israel content don’t necessarily support the eradication of Palestinians. This is a crucial distinction to make. Social media is flooded with clickbait-y content that polarizes people’s opinions.

This subject is complicated, and the history between Israel and Palestine cannot be understood solely by one infographic. Nuanced opinions have been sidelined by the media because the short and simple attention-catching posts always get the most likes. There is bias in most every news outlet, so try to read both sides and gain your OWN opinion, not just what your friends or classmates want to hear.”


 “Since the war began, the best way I can describe the mood in my house is solemn. Everyone is constantly checking the news; no one can sleep. As a Jewish family, we understand that atrocities are taking place on all sides, and we are horrified. We are praying for peace and an end to the awful, traumatizing violence. We are also constantly confronted by media messages that, while claiming to be pro-Palestine, present aggressive antisemitic sentiments. In the days following the attack on Israel, I felt unsafe in my school and my predominantly Jewish neighborhood.”


 “Given the incredible level of disinformation that has been propagated about this conflict, I think one thing needs to be made abundantly clear: this is not a war about Palestinian liberation. And people who support a free Palestine (such as myself) should absolutely not be deluded into thinking it is one. I've seen hundreds of posts framing this conflict as an oppressed group breaking their shackles and overthrowing their oppressor, Israel. And while Israel is incredibly oppressive to Gazans, this war isn't about that. Hamas is not a legitimate government or representative of Palestinian interests and liberation. For one, Hamas was the victor in 2006 elections and hasn't held an election since. The median age in the Gaza Strip is 18 years old, meaning that the average Gazan was one year old when Hamas was elected. The lack of free and fair elections since 2006 means that Hamas is hardly legitimate. But now we can examine the invasion itself. It had zero identifiable strategic objectives, other than the murder of innocent civilians in nearby towns. The lack of objectives indicates that this was an attack meant only to cause harm and spread violence, not liberate anyone. Second, the murder of foreign nationals and innocent civilians served no other purpose but to elicit an extreme response from Israel. Neither actually promoted Palestinian liberation. Instead, they forced Israel's hand to retaliate and in doing so, completely derail diplomatic efforts at normalization that were ongoing. Which brings me to the next point. There is reasonable evidence that the decision to attack was heavily influenced by external powers, specifically Iran, with the primary goal of disrupting Saudi-Israeli talks, making it clear that this was a geopolitical move rather than a quest for self-determination. Additionally, many Hamas leaders were managing the operation from the safety of Qatar. They were not fighting alongside their fellow Palestinians, but pulling the strings in the shadows, with clear foreign interests involved. Case in point being the failed Hamas rocket launch that was twisted into an Israeli attack on a hospital. This lie resulted in the cancellation of Biden's visit to neighboring states, which was a massive victory for Hamas but a terrible tragedy for Palestinians who lost their lives. Finally, Hamas knew that their senseless slaughter of civilians would result in massive retaliation from Israel, further stoking vitriol amongst Palestinians and securing the power of Hamas, which thrives on vitriol. Hamas hides itself in the buildings of Gaza, urging residents not to leave, resulting in collateral damage that creates more anger. Hamas does not care about protecting Palestinian lives because it feeds off violence.

That being said, this is not an excuse for Israel to commit war crimes. Ethnic cleansing and collective punishment should be condemned by the international community and punished by the ICC. Israel should also heed the warnings of the disastrous American occupation of Iraq when the dust settles. As a democratic member of the West, it is Israel's obligation to affirm self-determination, break the cycle of violence, and make a change in its treatment of Palestinians. Failure to do so will only result in more conflict.”