I wrote an opinions piece on Feb. 11 for Pipe Dream entitled “Sexual trauma does not justify further violence in Palestine.” Since its publication, many details have been misinterpreted and I’d like to set the record straight.

First and foremost, the problem I isolated is the way the New York Times (NYT) manipulated Gal Abdush’s family and a grainy video to push a certain narrative. Regardless, my argument is not that Abdush’s story is unimportant. My argument is that her story is being unjustly used to perpetuate racism against Palestinian folks and support their demonization in the media. 

I apologize for not making it more clear that I believe Israeli women have experienced trauma and have been terrorized by Hamas in my original column. The NYT’s article is one specific article that has distorted events from Oct. 7, but that does not mean sexual violence did not occur that day and is not actively occuring. We should believe all women, including Israeli women. Political beliefs should not invalidate anyone’s trauma nor should they prevent them from receiving proper resources. Furthermore, there are many Israeli women who have experienced sexual violence despite NYT’s failure to cover first-hand testimony — as sexual violence is understandably difficult to discuss both in private and public.

However, my original column is only critiquing the NYT’s appropriation and near-fetishization of Israeli women’s trauma, namely that of Abdush. Abdush’s sister publicly criticized the NYT article’s highly romanticized language and publicly denied her sister’s rape, although this statement has since been deleted on social media. The original column has been edited to reflect backlash against the NYT’s manipulation of Abdush’s story and not their definitive factual insufficiency. 

Note that in the original column, I misnomered the victim and her sister — Gal Abdush is the victim of sexual assault in the NYT article and Miral Alter is her sister. After reviewing the column and several sources, this factual mistake has been corrected along with additional rhetorical concerns — see the editor’s note for more information. 

My argument is that we should never condone one woman’s trauma to justify another’s. In my original column, I cited multiple instances of Palestinian women coming forward with their stories of sexual and reproductive abuse, which many have called misinformation while claiming to believe all women, which is incredibly ironic.

Ultimately, Israeli women’s very real sexual trauma should never justify the also real systemic rape, harrassment and abuse of Palestinian women — bringing justice to Palestinian women is not and should never be mutually exclusive with listening to Israeli women nor is it mutually exclusive with condemning Hamas — and Western media outlets, such as the NYT, need to take accountability for their erasure of Palestinian trauma in privileging one group over another. 

Julie Ha is a junior double-majoring in English and comparative literature and is Pipe Dream’s Assistant Opinions Editor.

Views expressed in the opinions pages represent the opinions of the columnists. The only piece which represents the views of the Pipe Dream Editorial Board is the Staff Editorial.