The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

Israel-Hamas War: student perspectives

Perspectives
Emma Goldman

The Bay Area is home to the fourth-largest Jewish population in the country. Despite this, when news struck of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, feelings of security, community, and comfort felt like abstract ideas, and I was instead struck with an unexpected, yet familiar, sense of isolation.

However, isolation as a Jew should not be a distant feeling. Even through small statistics, such as how Jewish people make up a mere 2.4% of the total U.S. population, we are reminded that even in a time like the 21st century, we are only a minority. 

Following the initial attack by Hamas on Israel, I turned to my normal routine of scrolling, but now, Instagram was no longer a fantastical escape for me. It had turned into an inescapable prison. Story after story, post after post, I was exposed to the responses of those I followed to the Israel-Hamas war.

Initially, the posts were fairly simple, like reposting statistics about the deaths of Israelis, but soon, they ballooned into something much worse. I finally hit my breaking point when I saw one post comparing the recent events to World War II, saying that Palestinians were going through something worse than what happened to Jews in the Holocaust. 

In a time of raw tragedy, humanity’s uglier sides began to emerge. Following the death of anyone, in any situation, was comparing it to another tragedy to undermine its severity the best we could do? 

After seeing those posts, I struggled to shrug off my anger and confusion. Just one month ago, I had spent two days in September praying in synagogue on what are considered to be the holiest days in the Jewish year. 

Yet, at school, where I could count the names of Jews I knew on one hand, I felt alone and targeted. 

As the days progressed, singular infrequent mentions of the initial attack quickly changed to frequent bombardments. Even my own mother, who often aims to avoid news and media to evade its negativity and depressing nature, couldn’t stop herself from sending countless news articles, mentions of local protests, and donation links to our family group chat. 

And then, as time went on, our vocabularies suddenly expanded and made way for new words that we were able to fit into our vocabulary, almost in an interchangeable sense: Hamas, Islamophobia, terrorism, Zionism, antisemitism. It felt as though people would throw these words out into their daily vernacular as attention-grabbers, rather than fully grasp the severity of their meaning.

As the conflict progresses and the war becomes a more permanent issue as opposed to a one-day attack, I have to learn to grow with it. Though my immediate Jewish community may be small, I can seek solace and comfort in other ways.

We have come to realize that the war isn’t solely a one-way attack. Rather, it is a multifaceted land dispute with religious and humanitarian implications. 

Instead of polarizing the issue, my fervent hope for the future is that we embrace each other amidst a time of such confusion and sadness. I don’t need my religious community to make me feel safer in a time like this — we can craft a diverse and supportive community right where we are, with our differences put aside and working towards the ultimate goal of comfort and support. 

Ben Romanowsky
Like a boy stuck on his own island, Ben Romanowsky occasionally feels isolated in his community, having few Jewish individuals to fall back on.
Like a boy stuck on his own island, Ben Romanowsky occasionally feels isolated in his community, having few Jewish individuals to fall back on. (Urvi Kulkarni)

While scrolling through my phone amid news reports on the Israel-Hamas conflict, I couldn't help but feel isolated and helpless. One report caught my attention with the headline "World Cleansing Day." Intrigued, I clicked on it, only to be confronted with the words "Kill every Jew" on the Hamas charter. In that tough moment, my heart went out to the people in Israel, and it made me question if I was safe in my own community.

Being Jewish has always been a huge part of my identity. From traditions to cultural gatherings, I feel as if I can always fall back on my Jewish values.

But at school, everything is different. I remember sitting in history class one day with my head down, devastated by the continuous news of tragedy after tragedy. Then, I heard a kid shout the last thing that I wanted to hear: “What is the Israel-Hamas war?”

I felt like I was on my own island. I looked around, and when the teacher tried explaining the conflict, everyone was off task and seemed to put the question aside. I saw 2048 Cupcake on multiple computer screens and other classmates were finishing their math and English homework. 

That moment intensified the feeling of loneliness I’d felt for the past month. 

The isolation persisted, not only in class but also during lunch and other activities. I longed for a sense of belonging, but it seemed like people either didn't comprehend or didn't care. None of my friends thought to check in on me either. 

Though it was difficult to not have a community to fall back on, that wasn’t what irritated me the most. The fact that my peers around me did not even know what was going on was what made me sad. If they aren’t educated, how would they be able to have empathy for their friends?

The next few weeks were like a roller coaster of feelings, and each day seemed tougher than the one before. That initial shock and feeling of being on my own made me spiral into my own thoughts. Not only did I have family in Israel at risk, but I also have a strong connection to the Jewish community.

I tried to find solace in my Jewish roots. I attended a virtual event at my temple Peninsula Sinai Congregation (PSC), and I drew strength from stories of resilience in and outside of Israel. After the virtual event, I started speaking up about my feelings. 

Gradually, I learned to transform my loneliness into an opportunity for education. I initiated conversations about cultural sensitivity and religious diversity, hoping to foster an environment where ignorance could be replaced by understanding. I attended a Jewish teen discussion with other kids in the area. 

It wasn't an easy process, but it felt rewarding to break down the walls of ignorance.

Scot Scoop is accepting guest submissions for this segment. If you’re interested in submitting a narrative with your story on how the Israel-Hamas war has impacted you, refer to our Guest Article Submission Policy.

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About the Contributors
Emma Goldman, Scot Scoop Editor
Emma Goldman is a junior at Carlmont and this is her second year in the journalism program. She enjoys staying informed about the world around her, both by staying up-to-date with the news and interacting with people in the community. In her free time, she enjoys running for the school's cross country and track teams, as well as trying new foods and cooking.
Ben Romanowsky, Scot Scoop Editor
Ben Romanowsky is a junior in his second year of journalism. Initially, he was drawn to journalism by his keen interest in staying up-to-date with current events and expanding his knowledge of the world. Other than journalism, he is a member of Carlmont's Chamber Singers. Outside of school, he enjoys traveling, playing piano, and hanging out with friends. X: @BenRomanowsky Check out his portfolio here: LINK
Urvi Kulkarni, Scot Scoop Cartoons Managing Editor
Urvi Kulkarni is the Cartoon Managing Editor for Scot Scoop who finds an interest in local climate stories and visual arts. When she is not editing, cartooning, or writing, you can find her on the courts playing for the varsity tennis team, working on a painting, or spending time with her friends. Check out her portfolio here.

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