Notes: This story is inspired by recent events in the larger world and on campus. The character and situation in this story are exaggerated and not meant to resemble any one student in particular.
The views expressed in this post reflect the views of the author(s) and not UCLA or ASUCLA Communications Board.
November 7 was a typical Tuesday morning, and Kaye was walking down Bruin Plaza to her afternoon class. Suddenly, Kaye saw something that made her stop in her tracks.
There- in broad daylight, was filthy Zionist propaganda claiming that Hamas had taken a child hostage. She stepped closer, and found herself face-to-face with a photo of eight-year-old Ella Zin, which she deduced was probably AI-generated.
The poster contained the audacious claim that 1,400 people had been killed or injured by Hamas, and that Ella was one of 240 hostages. Even worse, the poster called for the release of the hostages. As if they hadn’t committed a violent act by being born in Israel.
Kaye was nervous approaching the poster. She knew what the evil Zionists were capable of. It could be laced with chemicals, or booby-trapped with razor blades. But, she knew that she had to rid the world of the evil propaganda that dared to claim this little girl should be released from captivity if she was even taken captive in the first place. Finally, a moment of strength came, and Kaye ripped the poster off the wall.
As Kaye, a self-proclaimed environmentalist, was about to throw the wretched propaganda piece on the ground, trumpets sounded. Bibi Netanyahu appeared before her in a flash of light, with tears in his eyes.
Bibi said, “Kaye, you have shown me the error of my ways. Thank you for teaching me that Israelis are not human, and they are undeserving of empathy. We will give up ourland for peace, which has never been tried before and will have no consequences. Every Zionist has left Israel and given it to Hamas, a champion of the women’s and LGBTQ rights that you stand for.”
So, who is this Kaye that we have to thank for finally freeing Palestine, from the river to the sea?
Kaye is a second-year student with no friends or family living in Israel or Palestine, who first became passionate about the conflict after Bella Hadid’s candy heart Instagram post asking “Will you free my Palestine.” Since, Kaye has never missed a commentary on the conflict from Al Jazeera, which she lauds as a “totally legitimate news source and definitely not a propaganda network funded by the Qatari government.”
Kaye woke up on October 7 to headlines speaking of “At Least 260 Killed at Israeli Music Festival in Hamas Attack– Attendees Describe Horror Movie “ and “Americans Taken Hostage In Hamas Attack on Israel– As Death Toll Passes 1,000.” Her first reaction was to post “glory to the Palestinian freedom fighters” on her Instagram story and tell her Jewish friends who had loved ones killed and taken hostage in the attacks that the blame lies squarely with the “ apartheid, settler-colonial, eco-terrorist, purple-washing, pink-washing, yellow-washing, green-washing, extremist, racist, cringe, illegitimate, Zionist, made-up, not indigenous, phony baloney, Israeli regime.”
Kaye has since bravely called out the Israeli government for their propaganda, stating that she needed to see photos of every single baby shot at point-blank range. A supporter of the Me-Too movement since its inception, Kaye then said she needed to see children being raped live before she would believe that Hamas was capable of such acts. Any video was probably doctored, because Jews control the media anyways.
When asked what she thought of the original Hamas charter, where Hamas states that they want to kill every Jew on Earth and the dashcam videos of Hamas terrorists shooting freely at the music festival, Kaye said that this too, was Israeli propaganda. “Either way,” she said, “it isn’t like they attacked Coachella. Israel is an occupying force.”
Before October 7, Kaye’s Instagram bio contained Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous quote: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.” However, she has since updated her bio to say “intifada.” This brave move not only proved she cares about peace, but also that she is multicultural. Kaye knows that Martin Luther King Jr, a famous advocate of nonviolent resistance, would totally endorse the violent methods Hamas used on October 7. He would also probably agree with her in saying that antizionism isn’t antisemitism.
Kaye is proud to have single-handedly freed Palestine. She always knew that her social media activism could have a very real impact, and is proud that she was able to stand up for Hamas, her favorite grassroots activism organization, in a way that made none of her Jewish friends feel unsafe.
Obviously, the above story is made up in an attempt to show the absurdity of some extreme campus reactions to the terror attacks on Israel and the subsequent Israel-Hamas war. And it only shows one side of the story. Just like Kaye is wrong in justifying the murder of Israelis, those who call for the death of all in Gaza are immoral.
The conflict between Israel and Palestine will not be solved on UCLA’s campus. Although social media and campus activism can communicate values and offer quips of educational content, they can simultaneously be used to virtue signal and promote misinformation and propaganda.
The devastation isn’t just theoretical for the Jewish and Palestinian communities at UCLA. Among the killed, hostages, and injured are the brothers, sisters, best friends, and loved ones of our communities. Most Jewish students on campus know someone who was immediately impacted by the violence in Israel, many have loved ones who were among those brutally murdered. Many Palestinian students anxiously await WhatsApp messages from their family in Gaza to confirm that they are still alive.
While the Jewish and Palestinian communities are grieving, some of the loudest reactionaries in our campus community (like the made-up Kaye) have been people with no connection or true understanding or education on the extremely complex history of the land and conflict. Despite this, they also have no sympathy for the pain of those with whom they ideologically disagree.
Neither citizens in Gaza, nor in Israel should have to audition for your empathy. No innocent civilian deserves to be terrorized by Hamas, or to fall victim to the onslaught of violence in Gaza due to actions of a group that they have no control over. Much more, this violence should never be celebrated. No Jewish student I know is celebrating the violence in Gaza. So why are people glorifying violence against Israelis?
It would be morally bankrupt for anyone to rip down a poster memorializing Palestinians, and it is similarly heinous to do so for Israelis. It is possible, and necessary, for us to recognize human suffering in Israel, Gaza, and the diaspora without constraints.
The impact that loaded and ignorant rhetoric can have is to delegitimize the experiences of people experiencing this conflict directly and make Jewish and Palestinian students feel unsafe. Shouting “From the river to the sea, Palestine is Arab,” like SJP put on its most recent chant sheet, won’t free Palestine. (Note, the aforementioned chant doesn’t even try to veil its call for the ethnic cleansing of Jews.) What such rhetoric will instead do is fuel hatred and contribute to a lack of empathy and cycle of violence.
Before you post something attune to “settlers aren’t civilians” or calling for Gaza to be turned into a parking lot, ask yourself if your rhetoric will bring people closer to peace, or if it will continue the hatred that has fueled this war. Instead, say something you know is true like terrorism is bad or Islamophobia/antisemitism is bad. Then, check in on your Jewish and Palestinian friends.