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The Student-Run News Site of Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Keeping you WIRED in to all things Westside.

Westside Wired

The Student-Run News Site of Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Keeping you WIRED in to all things Westside.

Westside Wired

The Student-Run News Site of Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Keeping you WIRED in to all things Westside.

Westside Wired

What are you fighting for?

Westside students’ opinions on the Israel-Hamas war should be informed by a solid knowledge of the history and the facts
Sasha Denenberg

*The content in this article reflects the views and opinions of the author, and is not necessarily affiliated with the views or opinions of Westside Wired and Westside Community Schools.

The article has been edited from a previous publication version.

This document has been fact-checked by a university Middle Eastern Studies professor.


To hear me read this article in podcast form, go to: https://youtu.be/IizBkVVGNbE?si=BUp-sdNuOj7nY8iS


—Westside’s Involvement in the Israel-Hamas War

Westside has allowed concerning elements of antisemitism to appear on its campus. Biased and inaccurate news articles, student expression of antisemitism, and a failure to educate students adequately about crucial current events all contribute to the problem.

The first article published on Westside Wired about the Israel-Hamas war is titled, “Israel-Palestine Conflict Shouldn’t Spread Conflict Among American Education.” In this article, a Westside student criticizes New York University’s (NYU) decision to suspend Hafiza Khalique, an NYU student and pro-Hamas activist. Khalique was arrested at a protest where she was videotaped vandalizing NYU’s campus and tearing down posters of hostages who are being held captive in Hamas’s tunnels underneath Gaza. Some of these hostages are children who witnessed their entire families slaughtered. They are now being held hostage as bargaining chips for Hamas. NYU’s Office of Student Conduct stated that Khalique was suspended for violating the University Student Conduct Policy by vandalizing university property as well as violating its Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment policies.

If this Westside author wanted to write about the Israel-Hamas war’s effect on college campuses, she could have written about the death threats aimed at American Jewish students, or how Israelis are frequently kicked out or barred from clubs, simply because they were born in Israel. Or how the older brother of a current student at Westside High School had to transfer out of the University of Pennsylvania last semester because of overwhelming antisemitism.

My brother, a sophomore at Harvard, faces antisemitism every day. Here is a photo of a hostage poster found on the Harvard campus, featuring 10-month-old Kfir Bibas. It was defaced by a pro-Palestine activist. 

New York Post

This Westside author could have addressed the rampant antisemitism on college campuses, but instead, she chose to defend a vandal who broke her school’s laws and tore down posters of innocent civilians who had recently been brutalized and kidnapped, some of whom are our fellow Americans.

In late January, another article was published on Westside Wired, titled, “Westside Alumna Participates in Local Movement for Palestine.” This student journalist’s article featured an interview with a Westside graduate who organizes pro-Palestine protests. The article presented her as a hero who stands with the oppressed; however, she was featured holding a sign that calls for the annihilation of Israel and the death of all Jews. She spread the slogan of a racist Palestinian government called Hamas, which is hell-bent on the death of Jews, the classic definition of genocide. Don’t take it from me, hear directly from the leaders of the movement she endorses:

“Blessings to whoever put a belt of explosives on his body or on his sons’ and plunged into the midst of the Jews…” — Sermon by Ibrahim Madhi

“The annihilation of the Jews here in Palestine is one of the most splendid blessings for Palestine.” — Palestinian cleric Muhsen Abu ‘Ita Al-Aqsa TV

“We must attack every Jew on planet Earth! We must slaughter and kill them.” — Fathi Hammad, Senior Hamas official

“The Israelis are known to love life. We, on the other hand, sacrifice ourselves. We consider our dead to be martyrs.” — Ali Baraka, Senior Hamas Official

Fathi Hammad, Senior Hamas official delivering a speech:



More Hamas quotes: Anti-Defamation League, Center for Israel Education, StandWithUs


Well-meaning members of our community are not educated on the Israel-Hamas war but feel the need to comment loudly about it anyway. My goal for this article is to give a basic understanding of the war and what each side is really fighting for.



—How Israel Came to Be

Jews have had a constant presence in the land of Israel for 3000 years. This is a fact. I say this not to diminish the indigeneity of other ethnic groups, but to immediately shut down the false narrative that Jews are “European colonizers.” There is clear archeological and textual evidence of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah (the origins of the word “Jew”). Below is a map of the area around 830 BCE, courtesy of World History Encyclopedia

World History Encyclopedia

After Greek conquest, the land around Jerusalem was referred to as Judea/Samaria. A few hundred years later, the Romans took over and renamed the land “Syria Palestina.” This is where we get the name “Palestine.” The Romans organized murderous pogroms to ethnically cleanse the Jews. In the 600s CE, Arab/Muslim powers conquered the land. Due to mass murder and exile, the Jews remained a minority in their own land for centuries.

Many people think the establishment of the State of Israel was a reaction to the Holocaust. However, attempts to create a Jewish state started much earlier, trying to prevent a genocide on the scale that the Nazis achieved. During World War I, this area that was the Ottoman Empire was divided by the Allied Powers. The Arabs received four land mandates: Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Trans-Jordan. The Jews received one mandate: Palestine, to be administered by Britain. In the Balfour Declaration, the British government made clear that they favored a Jewish state in the mandate of Palestine. As time progressed, all the Arab mandates became sovereign states. The only commitment left unfulfilled was to the Jews. The main reason for the lack of a Jewish state was Arab violence. The Arab reaction to the idea of a Jewish state was brutal. In the 1920s and 30s, Arabs in Palestine conducted violent, barbaric attacks on the Jewish people. These attacks include the Black Hand killings, the Palestine riots of 1929 (including the Hebron Massacre), the 1936 Jaffa riots, and the Tiberias pogrom. In fact, a leader of these Arab-Palestinian assaults, Amin al-Husseini, met with Adolf Hitler in 1941. Al-Husseini told the Fuehrer how much the Arab world admired Hitler. He stated that Nazi Germany and the Arab countries were obvious allies because they both wanted the Jews dead (Times of Israel).

Amin Al-Husseini in a 1941 meeting with Adolf Hitler. (Times of Israel)

 Although these Arab massacres gave rise to Jewish paramilitary, Arab aggression was extremely successful in preventing the creation of a Jewish state in the British Mandate of Palestine. (To learn more: Foreign Policy Research Institute, ZOA)


What is Zionism? A Zionist is someone who believes it’s okay for Israel to exist, who thinks it’s okay for a Jewish homeland to exist. Zionism is the belief that Jews have the right to self-determination in their ancestral homeland. After centuries of expulsions and violence, the United Nations agreed that the Jews needed a state where they could live safely and properly defend themselves. Many people on social media who use “Zionist” as a derogatory term do not understand its meaning; they use it to express their antisemitism. To quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking antisemitism!” (JVL). Denying the Jews’ right to a homeland just because they are Jewish is inherently antisemitic. Dr. King was a proud Zionist.

The 1937 British Peel Commission Plan proposed a Jewish state the size of Rhode Island. No parties liked it, but more importantly, it revealed the blatant truth about the Arab stance towards Israel: in rejecting the Peel Commision, the Arab League retorted with the famous quote, “not even the size of a postage stamp.” The Arab countries would not allow the creation of a Jewish state even if it was one square inch. Even later, after the establishment of the State of Israel, the Arabs repeatedly rejected generous proposals from the UN and other peace brokers for a “two-state” solution (all of which Israel proposed or agreed to). From the very start, the only acceptable solution to them was that the Jews be driven out of the Middle East (the Jews’ ancestral home) entirely.

The Arab world (blue), compared to the red speck of Israel:


In 1948, the United Nations created a partition plan for a Jewish state and an Arab state in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine. This is the point in time when we stopped using the name “Palestine” to describe the mandate given to the Jews and started using it to describe the territory given to the Arabs after the creation of Israel. The Jews didn’t even receive Judea or Zion/Jerusalem. Regardless, the Jews were thrilled because the creation of Israel was their top priority. The Arab states, true to their top priority, immediately launched a coordinated war on Israel to destroy it entirely.

You may have heard the term, “the Nakba.” During and after the war of survival for Israel in 1948, seven hundred thousand Arabs living within Israel fled to surrounding Arab countries and what is now the Palestinian territory. Many of these refugees were belligerents in their war launched on Israel, in which both sides committed atrocities. The Arabs call this flight the “Nakba,” and refer to it as a great horror and injustice, but it was their war to destroy Israel that caused the need for that flight! Pro-Palestine activists use the Nakba to invalidate the Jewish state’s right to exist, all the while denying the Arab countries culpability in this tragedy.



—“Globalize the Intifada” “From the River to the Sea”

When people shout, “globalize the Intifada,” they are referring to the series of Palestinian terrorist attacks waged on Israelis. The first Intifada (1987 – 1993) and the second Intifada (2000 – 2005) consisted of deadly attacks on Jews. Molotov cocktails were thrown, people stoned and stabbed to death, terrorists setting off their dynamite vests on crowded buses, all in the name of the annihilation of the Jewish state. Shouting “globalize the Intifada” calls for people to attack and slaughter Jews worldwide, a classic trope of antisemitism.

A popular chant at pro-Palestine rallies is to free Palestine “from the river to the sea,” from the Jordan River (the eastern border of Israel) to the Mediterranean Sea (the western border of Israel). “From the river to the sea” geographically means all of Israel. This chant explicitly calls for the annihilation of the only democracy in the Middle East (Israel) and the slaughter of every Jew in it.

Which brings us to the present. Hamas is a genocidal terrorist organization whose written goal is the annihilation of Israel, the death of America, and the slaughter of all Jews. Hamas was elected as the government of Gaza in 2007. What did they do with their leadership position? Instead of using billions of dollars in aid to build Gaza into a beautiful metropolis on the Mediterranean Sea, Hamas turned it into a terrorist base. Underneath Gaza lies a thick network of terrorist tunnels bigger than the New York subway system. Missile launch locations, arms depots, and military intelligence installments are located under schools, hospitals, and mosques. They groom children to believe that their purpose in life is to violently “liberate” Palestine from a sovereign Jewish state. They teach Palestinian children to hate and kill. Hamas’s goals are the very definition of genocide.


—What Happened on October 7th?

On October 7, 2023, Hamas executed the deadliest attack in one day on the Jewish people since the Holocaust. Over three thousand terrorists invaded Israel, taking hundreds of hostages, killing babies, raping women, and burning entire families alive. They entered a concert and slaughtered and burned as many people as they could. More than 1200 people were killed, many of whom were not Israeli. The perpetrators were both Hamas members and Palestinian civilians.

A good resource for first-hand testimonies of the October seventh massacre is @survived.to.tell on Instagram.

Significant proof of the horrors of the October seventh massacre comes from the terrorists themselves. Hamas taped their murders, shamelessly bragging to the world about their triumph over each life they took. My friend received a video from her classmate’s phone. The terrorists took her phone so they could tape themselves gang raping her. Then they sent it to every person on her contact list. That video was followed by a video of her murder. Hamas also streamed some murders live on the social medias of their victims. Here is a phone call from a terrorist to his family, made from the phone of a murdered woman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKNHBdGbcgY

Hamas’s use of sexual violence on October seventh was horrific. I will not, however, go into depth about that in this article. I’ve provided two links to eye-witness testimonies: New York Times, CNN. October seventh was a sadistic act of terrorism against the Jewish people, it was not “resistance.”


—-A Liberal Cause?

The popularity of pro-Palestine bias among liberal groups is bizarre. Liberals emphasize their support of inclusion, diversity, women’s rights, and LGBTQ+ rights. I am a liberal! Supporting Hamas contradicts every one of these principles. Hamas enforces strict Sharia law, banning women from showing their hair, dressing “immodestly”, dancing, or traveling without male approval. In Gaza it is completely legal for a man to rape his wife. Jews are barred from living in Gaza and it is illegal to be gay. In fact, queer people are publicly executed. Hamas states in its covenant that, “Any procedure in contradiction to Islamic Sharia, where Palestine is concerned, is null and void” (Yale Law School). Do these laws sound progressive to you?


—Calls for a Ceasefire

Hamas states clearly in its charter, “[Peace] initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement… Those conferences are no more than a means to appoint the infidels as arbitrators in the lands of Islam… There is no solution for the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility” (Article 13). Hamas shouts from the rooftops that there is no room for peace or any type of negotiation regarding their mission of annihilation. Their answer is Jihad. By definition, Jihad is a holy war of martyrdom, waged on the enemies of Islam. This holy war manifests itself in honor killings and the slaughter of anyone who disagrees with Hamas’s undertakings.

Many people blindly follow Palestinian activists’ ceasefire narrative because war is devastating, and “ceasefire” is an appealing word. I agree. An end to fighting sounds wonderful. However, a ceasefire only works when both sides follow the terms and put down their weapons. Hamas has never had any intention of stopping their mission of the extermination of the Jewish people. Since its creation, Hamas has broken countless ceasefires that Israel has granted them. In fact, a ceasefire was in effect on October sixth. After the October seventh attacks, Hamas leader Ghazi Hamad stated, “We must teach Israel a lesson, and we will do it twice and three times. The Al-Aqsa Deluge [Hamas’s name for their October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth… We are called a nation of martyrs, and we are proud to sacrifice martyrs” (The Economic Times). Hamas is outspoken about its genocidal goals, shamelessly announcing that they will repeat their terror attacks “until the last drop of [Jewish] blood” is shed (Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum).

War is devastating, but it is naive to demand that Israel must put down its weapons because “war is bad.” Would you have told the Allied Forces to stop fighting the Nazis because war is bad? Israel does not have the luxury of doing nothing. To paraphrase former Prime Minister of Israel, Golda Meir, if the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more ‎violence. If the Jews put down their weapons ‎today, there would be no ‎more Israel.


—Accusations of “Apartheid”, “Ethnic Cleansing”, “Genocide”

Israel is not an apartheid state. Apartheid means segregation or discrimination on the basis of race. Israel is an integrated country made up of every race, religion, and gender orientation. Arabs have full equal rights in Israel and even hold major positions of power in Israeli government. Mansour Abbas, Hamad Amar, Yasser Hujirat, Walid al-Huashla, and Iman Khatib-Yasin are only a few of the Arabs in the Knesset right now (the Israeli version of our House of Representatives). Arabs are judges. Arabs serve in the Israeli army right alongside their Jewish brothers and sisters! If you want to talk apartheid, let’s talk about the fact that Israelis are not allowed in Gaza, Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, or Yemen.

The accusation that Israel is conducting a “genocide” or “ethnically cleansing” the Palestinians is ridiculous. Ethnic cleansing is the mass expulsion or killing of members of an ethnic or religious group. Let’s look at the numbers. In 1948, there were 156k Arabs living in Israel. Today, there are over 2 million. In 1948, there were 80k Arabs living in Gaza. Today, there are over 2 million. I’ve attached a graph of the Palestinian population over time, provided by the UN. If Israel is trying to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians, they’re doing a horrible job. I’ve also attached a table from USJ titled, “Jewish Populations in Arab Countries.” Between 1948 and 2018, hundreds of thousands of Jews were murdered or expelled from their Arab homelands. That is what ethnic cleansing actually looks like.

The Jewish population in Arab countries has decreased 99.6% in the last 76 years. On the other hand, the Arab population in Israel has been multiplied by thirteen. Who is ethnically cleansing whom?










—-The Obsession With Israel

The fixation on Israel is unlike any other issue in the world. People are obsessed, rioting in the streets in support of Palestine, against Israel. Shockingly, anti-Israel sentiment worsened on October seventh. The calculated, brutal slaughter committed by a recognized terrorist organization actually encouraged people to leap to the defense of the terrorists. It’s hard for an ethical mind to understand that reaction.

The country of Jordan is 80% of the original British Mandate of Palestine. Not a single protester is shouting for the annihilation of Jordan. Not a single protester is demanding that Jordan be given to the Palestinians. There is a simple answer why: this conflict is not about land. The problem is the Arab countries’ unyielding opposition to the existence of a Jewish state.


—-A Fight Without Facts

Many of the American pro-Palestine supporters are marching for a cause about which they know nothing. They believe they are moral saviors of the Palestinian people, when in reality they are calling for the genocide of every single Jew, the death of America, and the annihilation of the only democracy in the Middle East (Israel). Legitimizing Hamas as a respectable leader and pushing for more people to suffer under Sharia law is not the progressive cause they believe it to be. If you really wanted to “free Palestine,” you would advocate for the release of the hostages, the disbandment of Hamas, and the establishment of a rational democratic governing body in Palestine.

If you genuinely hate the creation of the Jewish state, you are in interesting company: Adolf Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin, al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Taliban, and more. When you find yourself agreeing with North Korea, maybe it’s time to take a step back.


—- Antisemitism at Westside

Antisemitism has been a problem in the Westside district long before October seventh. Alan Kohll, a Jew in Omaha, faced antisemitism in the 1980s at Westside High School. Kohll’s class was shown a video about the Holocaust. While the video played, students threw pennies at him. These incidents continued with his younger sister in 1990.

In my English 2 Honors class last year, the entire class was shown a video that called Israel “oppressive” and claimed that Israel’s border security is only a way to oppress the Palestinians. Israel faces regular terrorist attacks; they must screen those who enter the country to maintain security. Spreading the disgustingly biased narrative of “oppression” is not education, it is political indoctrination.

Last year, my sister was in eighth grade at Westside Middle when a boy came up to her in the hall and called her a “Kike” (Jewish slur) twice. This boy is currently a freshman at Westside High School.

The publication of this article marks the end of the World War II unit in my AP US History (APUSH) class. In no lecture has the word “Jew” or “Holocaust” been mentioned. The Nazis’ systematic murder of over six million Jews has nothing to do with World War II? Not only is the curriculum’s avoidance of the Holocaust shocking, it’s also bad education. If I had not learned about the Holocaust outside of APUSH, I would have no idea why the Nazis were bad or why the US was fighting them. As someone who grew up around people with numbers tattooed on their arms (the Nazis’ method of marking its Jewish prisoners), I am appalled by this erasure of my people’s history.

On Tuesday, Feb. 6,  just two weeks ago, a friend of mine in eighth grade at Westside Middle School shared a horrifying story with me. While sitting in study hall that day, she overheard a boy ask his friend if he knew of any Jews in the room with them. A minute later, the boy put his hand up and said, “Heil Hitler.” He proceeded to play a video with Hitler’s face, Hitler apparently apologizing for dying too soon and not “finishing the job.”

Our community is no stranger to antisemitism. The spread of disinformation about Israel and Jews normalizes hatred and ignorance. It gives hateful people a platform to share their horrifying ideas without shame. It is our duty as well-intentioned community members to seek the truth and protect each other. Antisemitism and all forms of hate decrease with education and understanding. It is the duty of the Westside administration to take these forms of hate seriously and to educate its students and faculty, so students can learn without fear.



Hamas in their own words: Anti-Defamation League, Center for Israel Education, StandWithUs

Hamas Covenant 1988: Yale Law School


Educational links provided in this article:

Fathi Hammad, Senior Hamas official delivering a speech

Hamas terrorist celebrates murdering a woman and her family in horrific phone call

What the Mufti Said to Hitler

Foreign Policy Research Institute


How Hamas Weaponized Sexual Violence on Oct. 7

Attackers laughed as they raped and murdered a woman in Israel on October 7


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