Hawaii students, activists share reactions to ongoing Israel-Hamas war

Numerous protests have erupted all over Hawaii in solitary with those affected by the...
Numerous protests have erupted all over Hawaii in solitary with those affected by the Israel-Hamas war.(Lili Hurd)
Published: Nov. 19, 2023 at 6:34 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 20, 2023 at 6:06 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Israel-Hamas war continues to spark outrage and protests across the country, with thousands demonstrating with signs and flags — including in Hawaii.

In the Aloha state, numerous rallies have been held by local organizers and non-profits with different perspectives of the conflict, including the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

About 11,500 Palestinians and 1,200 Israelis — mostly civilians on both sides — have been killed since Hamas launched a surprise attack on southern Israel and took 240 hostages back into Gaza on Oct. 7.

Kanoa Makanahele Ventura Beretta, a freshman at UH Manoa and intern for Hawaii, Peace and Justice,” believes students and community members have a responsibility to play within the war.

“We recognize Palestine is not a far away issue that’s disconnected from us, that we should just not forget but we have a direct and intimate role that we can play and if we do nothing, we have blood on our hands,” Beretta said.

A group of students and faculty is demanding the University of Hawaii cut ties and investments through its Department of Defense research contracts and want the state to stop supporting militarism of Israel/Palestine.

Sergio Alcubilla, activist and executive director of the Hawaii Workers Center, said he saw first-hand the living conditions of Palestinians when he visited Gaza and found it very shocking.

“I’ve seen just the way Palestinian people are being treated in their own land, where they’re being forced back to the government and asking permission for traveling. One of my promises I made to my friends was I would let the world know what’s going on in Israel and Palestine,” Alcubilla said.

Some believe Palestine is not without blame in the conflict.

Kaatee Bailey, executive director of Israel and Hawaii Alignment, said Israel is a peaceful country, but when provoked or in danger, it will do whatever is needed to survive.

“Israel has no choice but to defend itself, defend its people, especially with this war. This is the worst attack that Israel has had in 50 years where they actually went and murdered peaceful people,” Bailey said.

Both Israel supporters and Palestine supporters have different perspectives on how the conflict should be resolved.

Rafi, a local protestor and a member of the Jewish community, believes peace should be the goal.

“They are worried about a second Holocaust coming. We just had the second biggest murder of Jews since 1945. And I’m, we’re all terrified of it as well. This is a problem that is in too deep already. We need to have a conversation with both sides. We need to have Jews and Palestinians speaking together about how to end this conflict because there are a lot of uncomfortable truths about both sides of this conflict that we need to address,” he said.

But Beretta believes that’s not possible: “There cannot be peace between Israel and Palestine. It has to be Palestinian liberation because Israel is a fundamentally corrupt country.”

Alcubilla believes coverage of the war and social media paint Palestine as the “bad guy” and it’s not always fair.

“It’s hard because it’s so one-sided, you know it’s pro Israeli. At the end of the day, it’s about innocent civilians being lost and that’s what it’s really all about,” Alcubilla said.

Bailey notes the war has brought out more compassion and sympathy for all sides.

“Hamas is one of the worst terrorist organizations in the world. However this gives me more compassion for the people in Palestine. This gives me more compassion because these are innocent lives being affected,” Bailey said.