Nathan Sommer

On Jan. 24, fellow Pipe Dream opinions columnist Samantha Rigante wrote an impassioned call for the spotlight of Israel’s mass slaughter of Palestinians to be returned to the Israeli hostages held in Gaza, titled “Hostages in Gaza need to be brought home now”. Western audiences have been conditioned to believe the lives of Gazans are not worth the same as Israelis. Unsurprisingly, her column includes no calls for a ceasefire.

On Oct. 7, around 1,200 Israelis lost their lives in Hamas’ offensive into Israel. Approximately 240 Israeli hostages were taken in October with over 100 being released in November as part of the hostage exchange deal, leading Israel to believe around 130 hostages remain in Gaza. Since Oct. 7, over 27,000 Palestinian civilians total have been killed at an average of 250 per day, with many more at risk of starvation and illness. What we are witnessing constitutes a genocide — just listen to the calls coming from Likud cabinet officials and Israeli politicians. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant spoke of the need to “eliminate everything” in Gaza and founder of the Zehut party Moshe Feiglin argued the need to completely destroy Gaza in a manner akin to Hiroshima. Prime Minister Netanyahu compared Gaza to Amalek, the enemy of Israelites in the Bible which was wiped out by God.

Rigante also conveniently ignores that over 7,000 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli prisons, 2,900 of whom are held without being charged or facing trial. The practice of detaining Palestinian people without cause is nothing less than state-sanctioned hostage-taking. Her one-sidedness does not stop there — Rigante vividly describes an Israeli baby kept in captivity to evoke sympathy but she does not extend this same concern to the over 11,500 children who have been murdered by the Israeli military. Caring only about those that look like you or pray like you is devoid of empathy.

The Israeli Defense Forces’ war crimes and barbaric behavior — targeting of aid agencies, bombing of ambulance convoys, deliberate killing of journalists and displacement of about 1.7 million people — receives a pro-Israel response of “What about Hamas?!” We are not talking about sides with equal capacity for violence or destruction. Hamas has an estimated military budget of $100-350 million. When comparing this to Israel’s more than $23 billion budget making it the second highest per-capita military spender, Israel has perhaps the most technologically sophisticated regional army.

Rigante also offers the hope of Palestinian and Israeli civilians one day having peace and returning to their homes. One small problem there — more than half of Gaza’s structures have been damaged and destroyed. (9) Most Palestinians don’t have a home to return to because what Israel frequently refers to as “the most moral army in the world” is on a quest for carnage to render the Gaza Strip uninhabitable. Her statement is also the only mention of Palestinians in the article. This is common in Zionist discourse, and can only be combated by using the word “Palestine” and talking about a free Palestinian people.

While I understand Rigante’s distress for the hostages, focusing solely on the hostages during the genocide of a population profoundly lacks perspective. A ceasefire is urgently needed to bring the hostages home and stop the slaughter of Palestinian civilians.

Nathan Sommer is a junior majoring in history.