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  • The Phoenix would like to thank the Assistance League of Los Altos for their valuable donation to keep our newspaper running. With their assistance, we will be able to print quality issues that reflect the interests of Fremont High School and the wider community.
The Student News Site of Fremont High School

The Phoenix

FUHSD addresses tensions in community

Graphics by Shraddha Sriram

Recent violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories has left millions devastated, both in the Middle East and around the world. 

While there is a long history of disputed territory in the region, the current round of attacks was triggered on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, by the Palestinian group Hamas, which broke out of Gaza, a Palestinian territory that has been under Israeli blockade since 2007. According to the state of Israel, Hamas has killed 1,400 Israelis and took 242 hostages.

Israel responded to this by bombing the densely populated Gaza Strip and launching a ground invasion of Gaza where 33 Israeli soldiers have died. Since October 7, 10,569 Palestinians have been killed, with 2,300 still missing under the rubble, according to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza, backed up by UNICEF and quoted by the Associated Press. Additionally, in the West Bank, a Palestinian territory occupied by Israel, more than 173 Palestinians have been killed in violence and Israeli raids since October 7, according to the AP. 

With many families in the FUHSD community having roots in the region, the school district administration sent out two emails to address the conflict.

In the first email sent out on Saturday, October 7, the district acknowledged the conflict and pushed for neutrality on campus. The statement emphasized the intolerance for hate speech or discriminatory acts directed towards students. Additionally, the statement encouraged discussion of the conflict and any resulting trauma, providing resources for students and families to navigate their emotions in a safe, respectful manner.

As the first email was sent out on the day that Hamas tore down the Gaza-Southern Israel security fence, people who had not been paying close attention to the news prior were unaware of what was happening. The statement served as one of the first pieces of information to those recipients. 

“The first email is to acknowledge that something significant had happened that would affect our community and to let them know that there would be counseling available and that people who needed to talk to somebody could do that,” FUHSD Superintendent Graham Clark said. 

Despite the email’s intent to be diplomatic and supportive of all members of the FUHSD community, the message upset students and families who sympathized with Israel, resulting in many emails requesting clarification about the statement’s content. 

The names of students are not disclosed due to the sensitivity of this topic.

“[The email] is a gross misrepresentation of the actual situation,” an anonymous Israeli FHS student said. “[Students] really don’t know anything about the conflict and that’s not a good way to introduce them.”

The district responded to the backlash with another email sent out to the FUHSD community. They clarified their previous statement, now claiming that the conflict was not a war but an attack on Israel by a terrorist organization called Hamas. This new stance came across as biased to many, who had agreed with the District’s initial call to be neutral on behalf of all students. This second email also provoked a backlash, this time from community members who supported Palestine.

“In my mind, there’s a difference between Hamas and the Palestinian communities, and it was not intended to take a side in this conflict necessarily, but it was just to condemn the acts on October 7, that caused a lot of pain and frustration and continues to do so,” Clark said. 

Students and families had mixed reactions regarding the contents of the second statement made by the district.

“I think with their emails, especially, they showed that [the district does] not truly care about Palestinian, Muslim and Arab students,” an anonymous Muslim FHS student said.

While the email was met with disappointment from some, others were relieved to see clarification from the district.

“[I felt] a lot better,” the anonymous Israeli student said. “Because it was more accurate with the word description, representation and what actually happened.”

In light of these events, the FHS clubs on both sides of the conflict, the Muslim Student Association and the Jewish Student Union, met with their members after the events of October 7. They organized impromptu meetings in solidarity and provided support during these troubling times. 

JSU also organized a silent protest in support of Israel at the annual Homecoming rally. They encouraged students to wear blue and white — the colors on the Israeli flag. At the rally, many students showed their support with their clothing, face paint and flags. 

While this proved to be a successful demonstration put forth by JSU, other students felt unsupported and ignored by the school. 

“[If the school] wouldn’t allow American flags at a football game, they shouldn’t allow Israeli flags at a school rally where there are so many different types of students,” the anonymous Muslim student said. “I think if they want to be neutral, they have to stay neutral. They can’t just be neutral on this, then switch.”

Despite these objections, the district will not be taking action against acts of peaceful protest, as it is a part of students’ First Amendment rights. Given this lack of intervention by the school, many students feel unsafe speaking out about the conflict. In light of these protests, which reflect popular support for Israel, pro-Palestine students feel disempowered and vulnerable, fearing being doxxed online. 

“The biggest problem is that there is more of a risk and more potential harm for speaking up for Palestine than there is for speaking out for Israel,” the anonymous Muslim student said. 

The district has found it difficult to satisfy all groups in their communications, as the FUHSD has a diverse population of students. To promote unity and local peace, the school district plans to host an online event with the city of Sunnyvale on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023.

“I just want to say it’s probably a long-term issue and long-term conflict. And so as an institution, we would like to host events where people can learn about it and hear both sides.” Clark said.

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About the Contributor
Raagni Krishna Devaki
Raagni Krishna Devaki, Managing Editor
Raagni Krishna Devaki, a senior and Managing Editor, is in her fourth year at journalism. If you are near her for more than an hour, she finds a way to bring up K-pop. Raagni is also an avid reader of fiction and is always looking for something interesting to read.

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