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The student-run news site of The Masters School

Tower

The student-run news site of The Masters School

Tower

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Salaam, shalom, serenity: Finding peace in freedom from oppression

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Palestinian+supporters+at+a+rally%2C+protesting+for+Palestinian+rights+in+2021.+In+todays+current+conflict%2C+many+cities+around+the+world+have+held+Pro+Palestinian+rallies.
Montecruz Foto
Palestinian supporters at a rally, protesting for Palestinian rights in 2021. In today’s current conflict, many cities around the world have held Pro Palestinian rallies.

Matthias Jaylen is a senior at The Masters School. This opinion piece does not necessarily represent the opinions of the Tower staff or The Masters School. Tower is a community forum in which members of our community can share their opinions as long as they are in the spirit of civil discourse. We welcome responses through the comments section below, or through letters to the editor addressed to Towereditors@mastersny.org. Note that comments are being moderated, emails unverified and uncivil responses will not be posted.

Malcolm X once said, “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” 

 As one of the editors-in-chief of Tower, I recognize that newspapers can mislead, but I also know that newspapers can, and should, be places where opinions can be aired and truths debated. 

It’s important that Tower and especially The Masters School be a place where differing opinions can be heard. Being in such a small, generally like-minded, and sometimes even a close-minded community such as Masters, it’s been easier as an editor and as a community member to remain silent about the current situation in Israel and Palestine, because my views are in conflict with the majority. 

This environment almost never welcomes diversity of thought. Despite the challenges, I can not and will not in good conscience remain quiet about how I feel for any longer. 

There will be no confusion, and this will be clear: I condemn the actions of Hamas. 

Hamas has committed heinous acts against Israel, and has no justifiable right to kill Israeli civilians. And, perhaps most important of all, Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people.

I am a supporter of the Palestinian people. I come from an upbringing where my closest childhood friends were ethnically Palestinian and Arab. They’ve embraced me, showed me their beautiful culture, and have educated me about the sad history of their people’s oppression. I advocate for them. My views come from a place of love and care, not just of those I care for, but also a care for humanity and their basic rights. For several years, I have openly been a supporter of the liberation of the Palestinian people.  I support the ending of what I believe to be modern-day apartheid and colonialism in illegally occupied land. 

But, at Masters, it’s often impossible to share my thoughts, without being condemned by the opposition in any political topic, particularly when it involves Israel and Palestine. I’ve struggled with hostile and unforgiving judgment that’s targeted me for my views on the Israel and Palestine conflict. I am also aware that my leadership as editor has come into question due to my views. 

Like previous editors who expressed their own opinions about the Israel and Palestine conflict, I would like to make it clear that I have, and will continue to help lead the Tower staff with the utmost integrity and will never let my own personal political beliefs get in the way of making decisions, and running an honest paper, for what is media that lacks integrity?
To be clear, my views are MY views, as the views of other op-ed writers Tower publishes are not the views of Tower, but of those individuals who sign those opinion pieces. I am using this community forum just as every other member in the Masters community has the right to do. 

Since at least June 1967, the Palestinian people in occupied territories have faced oppression at the hands of the Israeli government, and continue to face that today, with Israel’s modern and extreme right-wing government.

Israeli Occupation Legality
United Nations

In October of 2022, the United Nations-appointed Commission of Inquiry released a report. In summary, the report found that "Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory is unlawful under international law due to its permanence and the Israeli government’s de facto annexation policies," and requested that the issue be referred to the ICJ.

Commissioner Chris Sidoti interpreted their findings. He said, “The actions of Israeli Governments reviewed in our report, constitute an illegal occupation and annexation regime that must be addressed."

Sidoti added, “The international system and individual States must act and uphold their obligations under international law. That must begin at this session of the General Assembly with a referral to the International Court of Justice.”

 Transgressions include the illegal occupation of Palestinian land along with illegal settlements beginning in the summer of 1967 and a myriad of unlawful killings and war crimes against Palestinians. The Palestinian people’s movement and the import and export of goods are heavily restricted by Israel, a practice which has perpetuated unemployment, poverty, and a lack of resources in the region. According to the Human Rights Watch organization, “Fifty years after Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it controls these areas through repression, institutionalized discrimination, and systematic abuses of the Palestinian population’s rights.” 

While Palestinians have pushed, protested and sometimes, fought, for their right to exist and flourish as a people, Israel’s current right-wing government leaders, have been frequently quoted on the record spreading extreme Anti-arab sentiment, denying even the existence of a Palestinian people, stating things like, “There is no such thing as a Palestinian nation. There is no Palestinian history” or “My right, my wife’s, my children’s, to roam the roads of Judea and Samaria are more important than the right of movement of the Arabs.” 

Fueling the spreading and burning wildfire of this rhetoric, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defended these anti-Arab leaders, time and time again. A long and continued oppression against Palestinians has grown even worse in the past few years. 

In fairness, many in Israel and in the United States have criticized Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza over the past few years, but in the wake of the Hamas attacks of October 7, that criticism has evaporated, to be replaced by justifications for Israel’s actions in Western media, and a large following of people who continue to commend “those doing the oppressing.”

As we speak, The Israeli government is killing innocent Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Bombs and missiles are being fired, civilians are being deprived of food, water, and electricity, buildings are falling on civilians. And since the war started, over 2,000 Palestinians have been mercilessly killed. Innocent men, women, and children are dead.

While Israel certainly has the right to defend itself against terrorists, Netanyahu and his cabinet must heed the advice of President Joe Biden. Biden said in an address to the American people, “Justice must be done. But I caution this – while you feel that rage, don’t be consumed by it. After 9/11, we were enraged in the United States. While we sought justice and got justice, we also made mistakes.” 

If Israel continues to be fueled by that rage that we once saw the United States display during the war against terror that Biden alluded to, many more innocent civilians on both sides will be slaughtered. 

The horrific and deplorable actions of Hamas do unfortunately stem from harsh Israeli oppression. As all oppressed groups have shown throughout history, without fair redress, there will eventually be an uprising. Uprising and rebellion will lead to more conflict and violence unless and until real change is made. 

The Israeli Government has the power to stop the violence and stop the attacks by removing their systematic oppression against the Palestinians. In an environment without oppression, life can be better – safer and freer – for Palestinians and Israelis alike. Without freedom, there can be no peace.

The world is watching. This is ethnic cleansing. This is a state of Apartheid.

As a community whose core value is “to be a power for good in the world,” I implore you to open your eyes. I challenge you to question all that you are witnessing in the media. Then I must ask you, does supporting the bombing of innocent civilians reinforce our values as a community? I do not think so. 

We must no longer support the Israeli government and their despicable actions against the Palestinians. There must be a ceasefire in the region and that’s what we, as citizens of the world, must advocate and call for.

I hope that someday the Palestinian people will be free in a homeland, in peace and harmony with their Israeli and Jewish neighbors. Free in the land that is rightfully theirs and lastly, free from the oppression and chokehold of colonial power.

This opinion piece does not necessarily represent the opinions of the Tower staff or The Masters School. Tower is a community forum in which members of our community can share their opinions as long as they are in the spirit of civil discourse. We welcome responses through the comments section below, or through letters to the editor addressed to Towereditors@mastersny.org. Note that comments are being moderated, emails unverified and uncivil responses will not be posted.

View Comments (9)
About the Contributor
Matthias Jaylen Sandoval
Matthias Jaylen Sandoval, Editor-in-Chief
Senior, Matthias Jaylen from North Bergen, NJ is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Tower and has been involved in the publication since he was a Freshman. Matthias loved working for Tower the second he started on staff. Before working his way up the ranks to Editor-in-Chief, he was Tower's Social Media Manager, Distribution Manager, and Opinion Editor. Throughout his time on Tower, Matthias has been a nationally recognized award-winning student journalist. He was named the 2024 Versatile Journalist of the Year and has won several other awards from the NSPA, CSPA, Quill and Scroll, PSJA and Best of SNO. He will go onto pursue journalism in college. When not working in the Tower lab, you can find Matthias watching his favorite baseball teams, the Mets and Red Sox.

Comments (9)

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  • A

    AnonymousNov 14, 2023 at 12:02 PM

    This is a persuasive, nuanced, and kind piece about the genocide in Gaza. It takes a lot of courage to speak unpopular truths.

    Your writing clearly comes from such a place of love and compassion for ALL people. There is reason you have the responsibility of being EIC. Please keep writing. ❤️

    Reply
  • A

    AnonymousNov 10, 2023 at 7:51 AM

    This is a terrible article that cites that supporting Hamas is a “power for good.” I know Tower supports freedom of speech, but this is beyond acceptable. This article is anti-Semetic. In this article, the Israeli government is called “despicable.” The article calls for a cease-fire, which would be surrendering to Hamas’s terrible bombing and killing of Israeli civilians (which is, in fact, not even mentioned in the article). The article mentions how supporting Israel is not being a power for good. But calling for a cease-fire between Hamas and a terrorist group, showing that if terrorists attack an area they can occupy it? They are upset Gazan civilians are dying, yet they wouldn’t be if Hamas had never started this attack in the first place! So is supporting Hamas a power for good?
    What also made me upset was the article comments. Many comments (mostly from students) support the writer’s view about how Hamas is a power for good. But one comment, by someone named Harry Brass, said, “Antisemetic article, not surprised from a place like masters, truly hope you escape the hate that plagues you.” This is somewhat a defining statement of the school, as this person exclaimed they were not surprised at this behavior from a place like Masters. I’ve only been at Masters for a little over a year, but I didn’t know the school had a reputation for supporting terrorist groups, did it?

    Reply
    • A

      AnonymousNov 11, 2023 at 6:58 PM

      Can you tell me exactly where it states that hamas is a power for good? You clearly haven’t actually read this article. It states that the actions of hamas are horrific and deplorable, which I believe everyone should agree with. But ask yourself this: Should Palestinian civilians pay for the actions of hamas? With your statement, are you defending the fact that Israel has killed 10,000 Palestinians and counting? Modern-day Israel was established on Palestine, and that land did not originally belong to Israel. Abraham who was the first jew, was born in Ur (which is located in/near modern day Iraq). When God told Abraham to leave Ur and settle in what was the eastern region of Canaan, (What was Palestine and is now Israel) there were already established communities of people there. Jewish people do deserve to feel safe in their communities, and the support of groups like hamas is anti-Semitic. I would agree that Jewish people deserve their own state if it wasn’t causing so much death of Israelis and Palestinians alike, other than taking land from Palestine for decades. Even the creation of Israel went against one of the 613 Mitzvot. “Not to move a boundary marker to steal someone’s property.” (Deuteronomy 19:14.) Hospitals being used as shelter in Gaza are being bombed, communities that once thrived are completely in rubble, and entire families have been lost. When people are supporting Palestine, they are supporting the civilians who live in terror every single day without food, water, electricity, and resources cut off by the Israeli government. They are supporting the idea that Palestinians should be allowed to be on their original land after being pushed into small pockets of it for decades. They are not however, supporting hamas and their ideas, or the idea of kicking Israelis out of their now established homes or communities. You cannot possibly say that the Israeli government is JUST defending itself from hamas. They have every right to do so, but that is not only what they are doing. Hamas is not Palestine and Palestine is not hamas. Please educate yourself on the history of this conflict. Hamas did not start this, but they should be stopped along with Netanyahu. Israeli and Palestinian civilians are suffering, have more compassion for the lives lost on BOTH sides.

      Reply
  • E

    ELIJAH BrooksOct 30, 2023 at 12:37 PM

    Thank you for sharing. This article is very well written. Continue to question and stay true to yourself.

    Reply
  • S

    Sibora SadrijajOct 30, 2023 at 11:37 AM

    Matthias, the level of courage, effort, and commitment you put into this article is beyond admirable. Especially at Masters, speaking your truth and providing accurate information about such a vulnerable and sensitive topic can be terrifying. There’s a reason you’re editor-in-chief, very well done.

    Reply
  • X

    Xavier RolstonOct 24, 2023 at 9:14 AM

    Proud of you for writing this article, Matthias, and putting yourself in this line of fire. This opinion is backed by lots of sources and thorough research, and the way you’ve woven in your personal experience and background is very persuasive. Well done

    Reply
  • H

    Harry BrassOct 23, 2023 at 7:20 PM

    Antisemetic article, not surprised from a place like masters, truly hope you escape the hate that plagues you.

    Reply
    • L

      LaurenOct 24, 2023 at 6:27 AM

      Where is the anti-semitism? It’s disappointing how someone cannot speak up against hateful and tragic events without being labeled an anti-Semite. Do you see anywhere in the article where he states that he dislikes Jewish people?

      Reply
  • C

    Catherine HarlowOct 23, 2023 at 2:42 PM

    How brave of you to speak these much needed truths in a time where any criticism of the Israeli government’s policies are unjustifiably labeled as “anti-semetic”.
    The death toll in the Gaza has climbed to at least 4,385 killed including 1,756 CHILDREN and BABIES and 967 women. How many of those innocent civilians were Hamas? This is outright genocide.

    Reply