Letter to the Editors: In Response to Nov. 7, 2023 Edition

To the editors:

As a professional journalist as well as an academic who, until my retirement last June, was faculty adviser to the Tripod, I am writing to express my deep disapproval of the lead story in your November 7 edition, on both journalistic and substantive grounds. As its banner headline, “Trinity College Responds Tepidly to the Genocide of Palestinian People,” makes abundantly clear, this is a transparently one-sided piece, pro-Palestinian in its point of view and critical of the Trinity administration for being insufficiently so. There is no indication that the administration was asked to explain or defend its response, much less that contrary points of view from the Trinity community were sought out. Under the circumstances, the piece should have been labeled “Opinion,” possibly as an unsigned editorial if it indeed represents the editorial board’s position. The “News Team” byline is in this respect misleading and also cowardly for not naming the authors.

Of course, opinion pieces are not themselves exempt from criticism. Here, it is egregious that the horrific attack on civilians in Israel by Hamas should be mentioned just once, in a description of the candlelight vigil held by the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life rather than as the cause of Israel’s invasion of Gaza. Worse is the matter-of-fact use of the term “genocide” to characterize Israeli military action. (“The Trinity College campus has seen a lukewarm response from the administration in contrast to the work of student organizations and some faculty members responding to the genocide and destruction.”) Since 1948, the United Nations has defined genocide as “a crime committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, in whole or in part.” In its October 7 attack, Hamas fighters sought out civilians to kill, and in their own communications prided themselves on killing Jews. By contrast, Israel’s stated intention is to destroy Hamas, an organization committed to the destruction of the state of Israel and to the killing of Jews. Israel can be legitimately criticized for failing to take sufficient care to avoid killing Palestinian civilians, but if genocidal intent is to be attributed to one side in this conflict, it is to Hamas.

Mark Silk, Professor of Religion in Public Life Emeritus

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