On the Saturday morning of October 7th, the Hamas terrorists currently in control of the Gaza Strip launched operation “Al-Aqsa Storm,” breaking through the border into Israel with hundreds of gunmen on trucks, motorcycles, and paragliders, accompanied by thousands of rockets fired into the country. An orgy of murder and abduction followed, with terrorists taking over Israeli communities and slaughtering civilians. The invasion is the largest in scale since the 1948 War of Independence, and at time of writing, there have been close to 1,000 casualties confirmed, over 2,000 wounded, more than 100 (and counting) taken hostage, and over 5,000 rockets fired into Israel.
The scenes that are now unfolding—reaching unprecedented millions due to social media, where many of the terrorists are posting visual evidence of their crimes—are gut-wrenching.
A 25-year-old woman, her face filled with fear, begged “Don’t kill me! No, no, no!” as she was forced onto the motorcycle of a Hamas fighter, her boyfriend helplessly looking on as other terrorists shoved him forward. Her heartbroken father is begging for information. Rescue workers are finding little children alive—but cannot locate their parents. A 23-year-old woman was murdered, stripped, and paraded on the back of a pickup truck to cheering crowds through the Gaza Strip. She is one of a reported 260 victims who were shot to death at a music festival for peace in the desert—some were raped next to the corpses of their friends.
One viral video showed parents—the father bloodied—comforting their sobbing children and covering them with their own bodies as terrorists went through their house. “Daddy, why are your hands full of blood?” the little boy asked. We do not yet have details on what happened to the family—but other families, parents and small children, have been wiped out entirely. A number of elderly women have been kidnapped as hostages—one of them a Holocaust survivor, which is particularly poignant considering that this weekend was the bloodiest day for Jews since the Shoah. Itai and Hadas Berdichevsky, both age 30, shielded their 10-month-old twins with their bodies as Hamas entered their home. They died; their babies were found alive 12 hours later.
At Kibbutz Be’eri on Saturday, terrorists fired rocket-propelled grenades into Israeli homes and then systematically executed men, women, and children. Other families—including infants and toddlers—were abducted. In many instances, terrorists live-streamed their murder victims to the victims’ social media pages with phones taken from their bodies (which is how one granddaughter discovered that her grandmother had been killed). Photographs of rooms filled with the bodies of butchered civilians are being released by the State of Israel as the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF)—and the entire nation—is mobilizing its response with Operation Swords of Iron.
That is the essential context when considering the response of many leftist journalists and academics to these horrors. The last several days have been incredibly clarifying. While social media feeds fill up with videos of unspeakable atrocities perpetrated against the most vulnerable people—of Israeli teenage girls with bloodstained pants being shoved into Hamas vehicles to suffer more abuse, of old women being snatched from their homes, of little children being mercilessly bullied by their captors—these people have decided to tell us precisely who they are. It is important that we listen. They are telling us what they mean by ‘decolonization’ They are defining their terms.
As freelance writer Najma Sharif wrote on X: “what did y’all think decolonization meant? vibes? papers? essays? losers.” As it turns out, this is what they meant all along—and Sharif is not alone. These people saw these things—and then they said these things.
Canadian Liberal Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Secretary Iqra Khalid, condemned the “horrific attacks against Israel and Gaza”—before the Israeli response to the atrocities had even begun in a grotesque attempt at moral equivalence.
Rivkah Brown of Novara Media:
Today should be a day of celebration for supporters of democracy and human rights worldwide, as Gazans break out of their open-air prison and Hamas fighters cross into their colonisers’ territory. The struggle for freedom is rarely bloodless and we shouldn’t apologise for it.
Sarah Shahid, who freelances for Now Toronto and Spring magazine: “What a glorious Saturday. From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
Nearly thirty Harvard student associations, including the Harvard Islamic Society, the Harvard Kennedy School Muslim Caucus, and the Society for Arab Students, released a public statement declaring that they collectively “hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.”
Dr. Jessica Hutchison, an assistant professor of social work at Wilfried Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario: “I hope your upcoming acknowledgements will include support for Palestinians who are taking their land back from settler colonizers.”
Uahikea Maile, an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Politics in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto:
As Hawaiians wake up to the news of Palestinian anticolonial resistance in Gaza to Israeli settler colonialism, remember that—from Hawai’i to Palestine—occupation is a crime. A lahui that stands for decolonization and deoccupation should also stand behind freedom for Palestine.
(The Israelis left the Gaza Strip entirely in 2005.)
Cinthya Martinez, a UC Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Latin American and Latino Studies Department at UC Santa Cruz:
Academics in the area of border studies: you cannot teach about displacement, dispossession, suffering, resistance, decolonization and abolition without Palestine. You can’t be for Abolish ICE, anti-border violence, or anti-carceral without supporting freedom for Palestinians.
Member of Scottish Parliament Maggie Chapman approvingly retweeted Sana Nazar, who stated:
The OPPRESSED are fighting back for their rights…Don’t let the Western media fool you into thinking it’s terrorism, this is decolonization.
Walaa Alqaisiya of the London School of Economics and Columbia University:
Academics like to decolonize through discourse and land acknowledgements. Time to understand that Decolonization is NOT a metaphor. Decolonization means resistance of the oppressed and that includes armed struggle to LITERALLY get our lands and lives back!
Dr. Nick Reimer, a senior lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Sydney:
No progressive should feel the need to publicly condemn any choices by the Palestinian resistance. Doing so just adds to the perception that their cause is unjust. Condemnation is the speech-act you perform when breaking contact off with someone, not when standing in solidarity.
Manolo De Los Santos, a co-executive director of The People’s Forum and a researcher at Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research in New York: “The people have broken out! The heroic resistance of the Palestinian people is an example to all revolutionary movements.”
CUPE local 3906, the faculty union at McMaster University (one of Canada’s most prestigious): “Palestine is rising, long live the resistance.” (After a massive backlash, the tweet appears to have been deleted.) As Ben Sixsmith observed:
If nothing else, it’s worth documenting the people rationalising or even outright celebrating deliberate murder of innocents for the next time they try and have you kicked out of your job for a misplaced pronoun.
Dr. Ameil J. Joseph, an associate professor of the School of Social Work at McMaster University who sensitively includes his pronouns in his X bio, tweeted: “Postcolonial, anticolonial, and decolonial are not just words you heard in your EDI workshop.” (As Howard Anglin noted, “next time someone hears these words in an EDI workshop, they should mentally substitute ‘spitting on a naked woman’s corpse.’”)