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The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

How JCU students and faculty view Hamas’ attack in Israel

Understanding perspectives, theology and community reactions amidst the Israel-Palestine conflict
Shareef Sarhan / United Nations
A Palestinian searches through rubble of his destroyed home hit by Israeli strikes in Towers Al-andaa – the northern Gaza Strip.

As of today roughly 2,300 Palestinians and 1,300 Israelis have been killed in a two-way streak of violence in the wake of Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel and the Israeli’s military response across Gaza. Violence has spread from Gaza in the south to Lebanon in the North. Throughout the U.S., mourning has begun, and statements have poured in. Interviews with students and faculty, in addition to statements from John Carroll President Alan Miciak, shed light on the perspectives and feelings of the John Carroll community.

The conflict between Israel and Palestine dates back to at least 1948 when the United Nations recognized Israel as a sovereign nation. Currently, Hamas is the political and militant organization taking up one side of the fight for Palestinian independence with their allies in the region: Hezbollah and Iran.

On Oct. 7, Hamas militants stormed out of the Gaza Strip and attacked Israeli civilians before the government could respond. Israel is preparing to go into the Gaza Strip where civilians and militants are living among rubble.

To understand this tragic situation, The Carroll News spoke with scholars of both Judaism and Islam who shared their theological insights on the conflict. Furthermore, TCN sat down with the leader of JCU’s Student’s Justice for Palestine (SJP) to present the opinions and feelings of students closely connected to these events. Moreover, statements from the JCU Theology department and President Miciak offered fuel for future discussions on the matter.

On Oct. 10, Miciak issued a statement to the university that acknowledged the distressing situation in Israel and Gaza, expressing condolences for those affected and condemning the loss of innocent lives. The university is offering support for affected students and employees and emphasizing the importance of fostering dialogue and understanding during this challenging time. However, Miciak wrote that JCU understands how “…harrowing and painful this situation is especially for members of our Jewish community.”

Dr. Noah Bickart, an Associate Professor of Theology and Jack, Joseph & Morton Mandel Chair in Jewish Studies at John Carroll University, said: “You can be pro-Palestine…and you can decry Israeli behavior without supporting this evil [Hamas’ attack on the Gaza Strip].”

Bickart said, “I am always willing to acknowledge that…Israel is not innocent in the…conflict. And most of the time, I think that’s something that has to be emphasized.”

“The Jewish community in [Cleveland] is obviously very, very pro-Israel; and this is something that people may not sort of appreciate for something that seems so far away is that American Jews perceive attacks on Israel as attacks on Jews,” said Bickart.

After the Israeli security lapse, Bickart warned that Israelis would demand a reaction. Bickart said, “And if the government doesn’t do doesn’t show its voters that doing something…, they’ll be kicked out of office the next time.”

Dr. Zeki Saritoprak, Professor of Theology and Bediüzzaman Said Nursi Chair in Islamic Studies at JCU, shared in an interview with The Carroll News a statement made by the JCU Theology Department, that the actions of Hamas are not representative of the Islamic faith.

In his statement, Saritoprak wrote, “Islam clearly teaches that even in war the killing of women, children and other innocent people is strictly prohibited… [A]s a Muslim, I cannot fathom these actions and think how far from our religious ideals we are straying…The Qur’an and the Prophet…both remind us often of the need for peace and that peace is better.”

Saritporak told The Carroll News that even if Hamas claims “that they are following Islam they are not actually…”

“In the teaching of Islam, there is no in-discriminative way of attacking…, there is no way to harm innocence. There is no justification for it even on the battlefield,” Saritporak said.

Dr. Edward Hahnenberg, Breen Chair in Catholic Theology and Director of the Tuohy Center at JCU, wrote in his statement that his “heart breaks for my students, colleagues and friends at John Carroll whose own family and friends are directly impacted by the escalating violence in Israel and Gaza…”

Gia Hamed ‘25, President of JCU’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), told The Carroll News that she was thankful for students and faculty from all sides who checked in on her and her family. “Any Palestinian has family in Palestine,” she said, and, for those with family in Gaza especially, this is a scary time.

“Look beyond the media,”said Hamed.”Do your own research and hear voices from those on the ground.”

Moreover, Hamed emphasizes how though these attacks are not representative of the Palestinian people, they represent the “need for freedom… because we want independence from those who oppress us.” She advocates that the way to independence should be one of peaceful protest.

Ellie Fleischer ‘25, President of JCU Hilel, wrote in a statement for The Carroll News “We are devasted. We are in shock. We are heartbroken… It is impossible to describe the way that we feel right now. We stand firmly in solidarity with the people of Israel during these hard times and affirm not only their right but also their obligation to defend themselves.”

“We also recognize that many of our community members are personally affected as they have family and friends in Israel as well as a personal connection to the Jewish homeland. Jewish people all over are feeling this pain,” Fleischer wrote.

Fleischer stated, “As a leader on campus, I will continue to be a proud Jew that stands up for such a small minority on campus…”

“John Carroll is a special place with special people who respect interfaith dialogue and I hope this institution can continue to draw the line between free speech and antisemitism,” wrote Fleischer.

As this situation evolves, one thing is certain. Unfortunately, more lives will be lost, more civilians made refugees and more funerals held. The shock of this last week’s events will lead to mourning, as indicated by the spirit of faculty and students, on both sides of the conflict.

View Comments (4)

Comments (4)

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  • B

    bill EdwardsOct 25, 2023 at 5:11 pm

    Well written and hope the JCU Jesuit culture, the JCU management group and the professors will maintain a positive dialogue with the student body.

  • P

    Paul Kantz ‘63Oct 23, 2023 at 11:09 am

    Excellent balanced piece. Nice going Carroll News!

    • T

      Tate FarinacciOct 24, 2023 at 8:57 am

      Thank you!

    • M

      Michael WOct 24, 2023 at 12:47 pm

      Thank you very much!