The Perspective of a Jewish Student at Trinity College Post-Oct. 7

Samara Quintero ’25

Contributing writer

I am afraid of being misunderstood or isolated as a result of sharing my thoughts in this article. But Trinity College must become a community in which students can ask questions and share their thoughts without fear of being ostracized. It is no secret that since Oct. 7, there has been tension, polarization and a lot of heartache, including the senseless shooting of one of our fellow students for simply being Palestinian. I am a Jewish student at Trinity College. After graduating high school, I took a gap year in Israel. After my freshman year of college, I returned for a summer internship with Natal, an organization providing PTSD treatment and resiliency training to Israelis. I feel deeply connected with this country that has been my home and continues to be the home of many of my friends. What I am about to write is simply an account of my perspective, not to be generalized to anyone else.

On Oct. 7, my dad texted in the family group chat, “Did you see what has happened in Israel?” I googled “Israel” and immediately saw that thousands of Hamas terrorists had invaded southern Israel. Over the coming days, we learned that they murdered about 1,200 people, including more than 40 children. They abducted 240 people. They shot at young Israelis attending the Nova music festival, murdering over 300 young people. My heart sank reading about the women who were gang raped next to their dead friends.

I was certainly not prepared for what I would see next. I opened Instagram and saw posts expressing joy at this terrible massacre. Post after post, people (including students at Trinity) glorified Hamas as “freedom fighters” and justified the massacre as “resistance.” Never in my 21 years of life, have I ever seen anyone celebrating the mass murder, brutalization and rape of any group of people. What makes this instance any different? People are celebrating the immense pain of Israel, the only Jewish-majority country in the world.

On Dec. 7, many students here at Trinity gathered to march in solidarity with Palestinians. These students chanted that “resistance is justified” even after a senior Hamas official had vowed to repeat Oct. 7 “again and again,” and that “everything we do is justified.” I heard, in those chants, not a call for non-violent action, but a justification for the atrocities committed on Oct. 7.

On the Long Walk, “From the River to the Sea” (a phrase often ending with “Palestine will be free”) was written in huge letters with chalk. I don’t read it as a call for two peoples living side by side in peace, but as a Hamas leader said, as a claim that “Palestine is ours from the river to the sea and from the south to the north,” and that “there will be no concession on an inch of the land.” Especially against the backdrop of Oct. 7, this sounds like calling for the annihilation of the Jewish state with no room for the 7 million Israeli Jews who live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

In an effort to have respectful conversations, I have been shut down. In one instance, I reached out privately to someone I considered a friend, letting them know how I had interpreted their reposted words as harmful. Rather than engaging with me in a conversation, they simply read my message, ignored it and unfollowed me on Instagram.

In an effort toward productive dialogue, I started to post on Instagram about the Jewish people’s history in Israel and the recent rise of antisemitism. In response, an alum from the Class of ‘23, whom I previously never knew, followed me and messaged me saying, “You have the media literacy of an INFANT. How did you get into Trinity or Oxford?” Before getting a chance to respond, they followed up, “ … if your president can lie on national television with no repercussions, what the f*ck do you expect from white assh*les like you”

I recently returned from study abroad to visit Trin for one week, feeling hopeless about having productive conversations. But one interaction gave me hope. I sat with a friend at Mather eating breakfast and talking about mundane life things. But I was dreading any conversation about the conflict. My friend is Palestinian, and we both had an emotional stake in this. I did not want to lose a friend, so I was hesitant to bring up the elephant in the room. But I am so glad that I did. We were able to talk about how our mental health has been since Oct. 7 and we expressed concern and care for each other’s loved ones. Most importantly, we were able to set aside our differences to prioritize our friendship. This conversation gave me hope for how I envision Trinity College to be—a place for students to embrace discomfort and practice empathy for one another. A place where people do not get demonized before being properly heard.

It is so comfortable to surround yourself with people who will agree with you and validate your opinions, and avoid those who don’t. But this only creates misunderstanding and tension and pushes us farther from anything productive. If we want to work towards dismantling polarization on campus and around the world, we have to be willing to be uncomfortable. We have to be willing to respectfully engage in conversations with people we think we disagree with. I’m a Zionist, someone who believes in Jewish self-determination in their ancestral homeland of Israel. If that word repels you, let’s do the difficult thing and start the conversation.

You May Also Like


Add yours
    • 3
      Sharon Conway

      I hope your fellow students and the Trinity administration will take you up on your desire to get out of your comfort zone and have these important conversations to better understand one another. Anonymous online comments don’t break down our differences nor do they help validate the pain. I commend you on taking the risk to share this with your byline and hope others will respond respectfully by sitting with you in Mather and trying to understand each other.

  1. 4
    Alex t

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful writing. I wish more people would sit down and have conversations about this topic than blindly follow a chant without understanding what it means. If the last two months haven’t been hard and complicated for you then you don’t understand the complexity of the issue. If you have a “simple solution” that just means you have a very basic, one sided view of the issue.

    • 5

      You posit it as if this “people” don’t care about conversations. Have you tried confronting and talking to them? What makes you think they are not open to conversations? What kind of conversations that you’d like to hold at Trinity College? The solidarity week had a lot of events that were mere discussions. Did you come?

      You underestimated their beliefs by saying they are just “blindly” following the chants. The disrespect coming more from you is what I am seeing. How can you ask for conversations if you don’t respect their views in the first place?

  2. 6

    When Palestinians attempted non-violence in the Great March of Return, Israel responded by killing 266 people and injuring thousands, where was your outrage?
    When the every major human rights organization called out Israel for violating international law, where was your outrage?
    When the prime minister of Israel held up a map in which Israel annexed Gaza and the West Bank, where was your outrage? Did this not include Israel from the river to the sea?
    Where is your sadness over the FIFTEEN THOUSAND+ MEN WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN GAZA?
    Stop making it seem like this issue started and ended on October 7th and maybe try to understand what actually provoked it so it doesn’t happen again.

  3. 7

    You did not include the full chant. “Resistance is justified WHEN THE PEOPLE ARE OCCUPIED Resistance is justified WHEN THE PEOPLE ARE COLONIZED” I wonder why you only included the first part…..

    • 8

      But what type of resistance is justified? I would hope that all people (much less those who support social justice) believe that butchering, raping, and kidnapping is not justified, no matter the cause.

    • 9

      Israel left Gaza in 2005 leaving beautiful farms and greenhouses. Here was an opportunity for the Palestinians to build a prosperous independent State of their own. Instead they voted in Hamas a terrorist organization whose main goal is to wipe Israel off the map! They stole millions and millions of dollars afforded to them and instead of using it to build infrastructure to enrich Gazan lives, they chose to build tunnels, build rockets and buy arms to destroy Israel!
      The Palestinian’s main enemy is not Israel but Hamas who uses them as human shields and cares nothing about improving their lives! Hamas is occupying Gaza! Not Israel!

  4. 11

    You explain your biases so perfectly when you admit to, regardless of what you are told or shown that you will only here or see what serves your narrative. This DID NOT start on Oct.7 so please stop pretending it did. From the river to sea means that people indigenous to that land (Palestine) should have full rights and control over the land they’ve raised generations on. If you can’t conceptualize a way to do that without mass death and destruction that only shows how much of colonialist oppressive mindset you share. It is not a reflection of anyone else.

  5. 12

    Hi Samara,

    First of all, your blindness to the 16,000+ Palestinian people who have died, and thousands of others who are missing is astonishing. NO one is celebrating rape and torture, and you are silent about the torture, occupation, bombings, death, trauma, and fear that Palestinians in Gaza are facing every single day, since October 7th, and for 75 years before it.

    Secondly, on campus, students were not celebrating the deaths of Israeli, we were asserting the right that Palestinians have to not be murdered every single day. And, if you had read any of the literature put out by the Students and Faculty for Justice in Palestine, you would know that students were also fighting for increased resources for Arab and Muslim students. You would also know, had you been here on campus or attended the event, that there was an event featuring speakers from Jewish Voices for Peace that expressed that anti-Semitism is wrong, and should not be equated with anti-Zionism. Students on campus have every right to protest foreign oppressive governments, just as we have a right to protest our own. This does not make us anti-Jewish, or hateful of citizens of other countries, or show that we are glorifying death. Rather, we are condemning it.

    And third, your note that a friend unfollowed you and did not engage further exemplifies your misunderstanding and ignorance. People, no matter if they are Palestinian, American, close friend or acquaintance, are not required to engage when they see that the rhetoric you are spouting is hateful. Zionism, rhetoric of 9/11, xenophobia, etc. directly impacts OUR Muslim and Arab friends and OUR community. Engagement with this kind of rhetoric is never required, especially when it is masked by a, seemingly manipulative, desire to remain friends.

    But, anonymously, I am glad to engage with this right now, in hopes that you will read and reconsider your statement.

    • 13

      People are absolutely celebrating the rape and torture of Jews on 10/7. Think about it for half of a second. If they weren’t, why would Hamas purposefully document and proudly share these exact crimes?

      You go on to say read the “literature” put out by SJP and JVP. Have you read any literatures or histories that completely invalidates your world view lately? If you did, did you just accept them? If so, why? Saying, my sources are better than your sources is an exceptionally weak position to hold.

      I’m thrilled you brought up JVP. This is the equivalent of you telling your Black friends that you aren’t a bigot because Candace Owens and Kanye “Ye” West share your viewpoints. JVP’s bigoted views represent less than 5% of Jews. But they are the 5% you want to elevate, so it validates in your view.

      Saying that people are not required to engage with rhetoric that is hateful, and that in your eyes, Zionism is such rhetoric, means that you are justifying the exclusion of 95% of the world’s Jews from dialogue. Good luck changing the world while subscribing to this logic.

    • 14
      Alan Stein

      There is a simple way everything that’s happened to the Gazans could have been avoided: The terror groups could have refrained from their horrendous slaughter of 10/7, with the beheading of innocent people of all ages, the dismemberments, the gang rapes, the incinerations, the cutting of babies out of the bellies of pregnant women, the pledges to do it over and over again. It can all be stopped instantly if the terrorists would just free the hostages they kidnapped and stopped trying to murder more innocent Jews.

      It’s interesting and telling that those who complain about what Israel’s been forced to do never have any suggestion that either has been tried before and failed miserably or amounts to national suicide.

      This isn’t a war Israelis wanted. It’s not a war anyone in Israel is happy about. Israel just wasn’t given a choice.

      • 15

        Even if we disregard the times Israel has committed similar war crimes on Palestinians in the past 10 years and really 75 years, their response now is completely disproportional. Even if you’re right and Israel had to respond, killing 20,000 Palestinians and displacing over 1 million is not self defense in any sense of the word.

  6. 16

    Remember that no one is allowed to invalidate your feelings. If the events from October 7th have shown us anything, it has brought light to the performative “social justice” that this campus is willing to engage in, regardless of whether or not they believe in it. Antisemitism is at an all time high on this campus and I applaud your bravery for publishing a piece (with your name attached to it, something that many Tripod editors cannot say) sharing your story. I hope to see more pieces from you in the future regarding this topic as this paper needs a voice of reason.

  7. 17
    Steve Kaplan

    I happen to know the author and consider her a thoughtful, introspective woman. She has openly expressed some meaningful feelings and biases she has experienced with respect to the (next in a long line) of horrific crises in the Middle East. In contrast, many “brave” critics here have posted responses which are vitriolic and infer that the author is personally responsible for not only the events of Oct 7th, but the entire volume of violence and hatred in the region’s millenia of turmoil.
    The writer is clearly confused and suffer from considerable anguish over the death and lack of humanity everyone in the region is facing. Instead of providing her a single second of compassion or understanding, she has been met with the verbal violence apropriate for an enemy combatant. Is it any wonder neither side with give an inch or seek understanding?
    Responses of that nature will never result in peace.

    • 18

      “Verbal violence of an enemy combatant…” Y’all don’t think you overshot that one just a little bit? Last time I checked enemy combatants don’t speak to each other through anonymous student newspaper comments, they fight. Don’t equate opinions YOU deemed violent or apathetic because they’re not sugarcoated enough for you, to actual violence. That’s what really won’t ever result in peace.

  8. 19

    Amazing writing and such a powerful message, thank you for being brave and speaking up in the face of violence, antisemitism, and hatred. It is incredibly tough to be a Jewish student on college campuses right now and you make our Jewish community stronger.

  9. 20
    Judith Ambrose Ewald

    You are a brave, thoughtful young woman. As a Trinity alum, and mother of another 2, I support you wholeheartedly. Shame on all the others who don’t.

  10. 21

    Had you cared about all lives you would have called for a ceasefire. 20,000 people dead in Gaza and we are supposed to prioritize the feelings of rich white students in Connecticut…. Ok

  11. 27

    Your voice in this important and beautiful piece is the light many of your schoolmates, their parents and Trinity alumni need during this time of darkness. Thank you for being brave enough to use your voice and share your story. Keep on shining your light. It may feel small but it is mighty.

  12. 28
    Opposed to Terror

    This article has been attracting, in the comments, both well deserved support and hints of the misinformation pervasive on campus. There are just too many to address them all. In the spirit of continuing this dialogue, here is a start:

    The “Great March of ‘Return'” was not peaceful. Hamas paid “protesters” to try to get injured. “Protesters” set tires on fire, damaging the environment, brought wire cutters and maps and heeded calls to attempt to kill Jews. October 7th gives a glimpse to what they would have done had they been successful then.

    Behind the Smokescreen, by Pierre Rehov, is a documentary that shows what happened during those “protests.”

    The numbers of potential fatalities were taken from Hamas and don’t seem to make distinctions (if at all accurate) between the deaths of their own terrorists or the victims killed by their own impotent rockets (to which there have been hundreds), or shot by Hamas for fleeing through the IDF’s safety/humanitarian corridor.

    If people truly care about the Palestinians, like I do, like this student does and as most Zionists do, they would condemn their true oppressors—the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS), and their primary benefactor (the oppressive regime of Iran) and not be a cheerleader or shield for them.

    • 29
      Opposed to Israel's Terror

      Not a single bullet was shot from Gaza. People are literally throwing rocks. Yet, the IDF shot bullets at women and children. Were the 46 children killed in the march of return members of Hamas? Are their lives worth less than the children killed on Oct. 7th?

      If you actually care about Palestinians, you would ask why they felt the need to protest. You would try to understand what it was about the Israeli government that pushes them resist. However, all you do is attempt to deflect blame onto anyone except Israel when they simply occupy Gaza.

      You can also choose to show the minority that used “violence”, which fits your agenda, or you can show the non-violent protestors that peacefully marched to the border- to which they were shot at with live ammunition and tear gas. I didn’t see your wonderful documentary show any of what Israel did.

  13. 30
    Lori S

    Thank you for speaking with your heart. The negative commenters here have obviously missed the entire point. And their venomous responses are evidence why you felt the need to be anonymous. Bottom line: hate wins if we refuse to have conversations. We all need to listen more and remember that America should be about freedom to be who you are. A student in Connecticut should not be blamed or hated for what is happening on the other side of the world

  14. 31

    If you were interested in conversation and learning more you would attend the countless talks and informational events put together by SJP… no worries, there are more to come. Hope to see you at some next semester so that you can expand your knowledge

  15. 33
    DeMarius Strawberry

    Please read an excerpt from the Hamas Charter (their constitution):

    “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.”

    This is followed by: “Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem” and “it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised.” NO WONDER Jews feel unsafe! Hamas wants one thing and one thing only: the extermination of Jews… it is plainly written as their mission.

    When your goal is only to cause death, you have no right to protection!

    P.S. Samara – thank you for being courageous and insightful. And when people make it personal, it means you’ve won the argument!

  16. 34

    Samara, have hope. Your bravery in speaking out and standing strong, in the face of the comments you most certainly and unfortunately expected to receive, exemplify all that is good about the Jewish people. Mute the loud background noise. Its very purpose is to distract. And listen to those who will dialogue, because it’s amongst them that reason lives. Thank you for your courage. May others follow suit.

  17. 35
    Dana Keller

    Thank you so much for standing up and speaking out. It’s so hard to express feeling in the written word and you did it so eloquently. I agree we must have conversations instead of violent speech. I commend you for writing this article. I am sure Trinity is feels good that you are able talk about your emotions on a very complex topic. Thank you and Am Yisrael Chai.

  18. 36

    Thank you for being so brave. Your point of view is important to hear. If only those whose vitriol is exposed in these comments were able to know another perspective. My guess is they’ve not seen babies beheaded, women gang raped as they were being cut apart, and more. But ignorance abounds.

  19. 37

    I can understand your distress. I’ve heard terrifying rhetoric directed at both Israelis and Palestinians in recent months. There are extremists on both sides who are letting pain and a fair bit of propaganda blind them. The difference is the extremists in Israel are in charge and have the power, money, and international assistance to achieve their goals – which includes horrible acts of violence against Palestinians. Palestinians are being wiped out as we speak and if you still think it’s only in reaction to Oct. 7th you are not paying close enough attention.

    Anti-semitism is very real and has no doubt risen in the past two months, but at the moment it just doesn’t compare with the struggle of Palestinians in Gaza who have experienced grief and trauma that is incomprehensible. Our first priority has to be ceasefire. Our second is more debatable, but whatever solution can be scraped together with our arguably shitty system of international relations, it can no longer include the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

    I’d also like to clarify a few things. First, I think it’s important to note that most Palestinians are not in favor of Hamas leadership. Many Palestinians do seek armed rebellion in some form but wouldn’t you if your friends and family were being brutalized, your homes destroyed, and your life uprooted? Further, the phrase “From the river to the sea” has an extensive history prior to 2012 when Hamas claimed it as a slogan. Its use does not automatically mean that people align themselves with Hamas or want to kill Jewish people. “From the river to the sea” has historically meant an end to the occupation of Palestine and freedom for the Palestinian people.

    As you seek empathy and intelligent conversation from others, you must be equally willing to educate yourself and sit in the discomfort of what the Israeli state has done and continues to do. The truth of the matter is, all Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Islam, Christianity) have historical ties to the land and Palestinians have just as much of a right to self-determination as Jewish people do, but right now they’re preoccupied with the right to life, the freedom from torture and so many other basic human rights. You can understand why they might be tired of conversation.

    • 38
      Efren Daniel

      The interpretation of “From the river to the sea” as historically referring to just the freedom/liberation of the Palestinian people is not entirely accurate.
      There have been three primary forms of the phrase used since the 1960’s by different groups:
      “From the river to the sea Palestine will be free”
      “From the water to the water Palestine will be Arab”
      “From the water to the water Palestine will be Islamic”
      But there is another version, used by the Likud in 1977, which went:
      “between the sea and the Jordan there will be only Israeli sovereignty.”

      Regardless of when or why Hamas decided to adopt the first of those versions, each of those phrases has an association to a history of exclusion or elimination of one or the other society and culture.

      Most people would probably agree that if Israelis and their supporters were chanting something along the lines of “From the river to the sea Israel will be one”, it would clearly imply an elimination of Palestinian-Arab territory and society.
      And so I think most people today feel that the use of “From the river to the sea” has equally troubling implications when used by Arab Palestinians and their supporters.

      Having said all that, and after reading your entire post thoroughly, I salute your effort in trying to find a balanced, nuanced, and compassionate approach when making your point, which is very well expressed (regardless of whether I entirely agree with it or not).

  20. 39

    Hi Samara,

    Thanks for the article. First of all the description of the October 7th event does not come in full without its context. You described Oct 7th as if it came out of the vacuum and disrupted the status quo of “peace” in Israel. In fact, there has never been peace in “Israel”, since there has always been oppression of Palestinian people on a land that was built on the genocide and mass displacement of Palestinian people. There is political and economic control from the Israeli government over West Bank and Gaza, as well as there are frequent violent military aggressions and the absurd realities of checkpoints etc. EVEN IF these oppressions don’t happen, the existence of the state of Israel is not justified, since it is built on the genocide and mass displacements of the indigenous Palestinians. Let’s at least agree on that.

    You mention the fact that you came to Israel several times. Did you visit the West Bank or Gaza? Did you notice the unfair regulations towards Palestinians people? Did you go to different checkpoints? What did you think about Palestine?

    You said that never in your 21 years of life have you ever seen anyone celebrating the mass murder, brutalization and rape of any group of people… Have you not considered the Nakba “mass murder”, “brutalization” and did you not celebrate it as the establishment of Israel? I saw some self contradictions there that I’d like to point out.

    The student you encountered did not represent the students that are advocating for justice in Palestine. The fact that you were not here during the protests showed how you were not at all aware of the situations. These protests never did and will encourage anti-Semitism. We are well aware of the matter. We are openly anti-Zionism, and that is open for discussion if you’d like. If you were here during the events of the solidarity week, and if you cared to go to any of it, you will see how the conversations were built on respect and the common struggles to describe and unfold the harsh realities that we all face.

  21. 41

    You are a very brave woman, thoughtful, sensitive and open minded. I wish all the Trinity faculty and administration would encourage dialogue instead of violence.

  22. 42
    elena tunitsky

    Thank you Samara for this brave letter. Do not be dismayed by the vile, ignorant and racist comments. You spoke of your experience and sharing how two people on different sides of the conflict can be more close because they know what it is to share grief. While ignorant, privileged, know-it-alls can just repeat sound bites and don’t bother learning any history unless it is spoon fed to them by terrorist funded organizations. The cognitive dissonance of the liberal college students supporting an oppressive religious right regime is astounding! Keep your head high and know you are on the right side of history. Their children one day will ask them “where were you when…” and they will have to explain that they stood on the side of a terrorist Organization. If they truly stood for the Palestinian self determination they would have stood against Hamas, posted about humanitarian aid being stolen, people lunched publicly for disagreeing and demanded that countries that have thrown out Palestinians previously take refugees or at least add to the humanitarian aide. But no, they scream “resistance”. Listen to the people whom you are defending- you may just learn what it is they want!

    • 43
      From the River to the Sea Palestine Will Be Free

      As the medical professional you are, I’m surprised you pay no mind to the condition of hospitals in Gaza right now. The fact that the IDF raided Al-Shifa hospital to find nothing but a calendar in Arabic (which they tried to say is a list of Hamas militants LOL). Do you care about the medical procedures done with no anesthesia. The amount of limbless children laying on the ground due to the lack of beds. The stress experienced by doctors and Palestinians as a whole is incomprehensible. It’s a shame that you have no remorse for them, as a doctor yourself.

      If you cared about Palestinian civilians you would condemn the military that blockaded and killed 20,000 of them in 60 days while bombing their schools and hospitals. Why should other Arab countries take in refugees as a result of a problem Israel created? Why doesn’t Israel take them in – or are they too racist to do so? Will it mess with the demographic? Your best argument is to deflect blame onto anyone but Israel. You fail to recognize the problems that Israel creates, then plays the victim.

      When your children ask which side you were on- tell them the one that killed 7,000 children. Shame on you and everything you stand for, Elena.

      • 44
        A. Lieberman

        FYI, for those of you who wonder what “Elena” refers to, it is a slang term meaning ‘lacking social grace, sensitivity, or acuteness; awkward; tactless”. The true test of a failed argument is when it resorts to ad hominem attacks and is anonymously submitted. This letter meets both criteria, aside from being grounded in distortions and flawed logic. Is this really the best Trinity can produce?

  23. 47
    Marcia Nozik

    You should be proud for writing this letter. If more people do what you are doing, maybe the world can turn into a better place. Don’t be intimidated and stand up for what you believe.

  24. 49

    As a fellow Jewish student at Trinity who is feeling equally confused and isolated, thank you for writing this. After reading your words, I feel a little less alone.

  25. 51
    Andrew Lieberman

    As an alum of Trinity College (class of 1984) and currently auditing classes here, I’m appalled by the rabid anti-Semitism masquerading (as it always does) as something else. My children went to other colleges but if they were currently of college age, I would encourage them to not attend what’s become a cesspool for anti-Semitic vitriol and hate. I posted several posters showing the faces of Israeli children, slaughtered or kidnapped on October 7 and all were torn down. A letter to the Trinity Tripod regarding this intolerant censorship was not acknowledged, never mind printed. To the young lady who wrote this message, I encourage you to transfer out as soon as possible. I fear you are not safe at Trinity College.

  26. 52

    When Hamas did what it did on 7 October was the thought that Hamas was thinking that Israel would sit back and accept what happened as a lesson from Hamas and …and what?

+ Leave a Comment