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Chico State's independent student newspaper

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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Israeli students share their perspective on the Israel-Hamas war

Student Yarin Dan (left) and student Edan Asseraf (right) on Chico State’s campus. Photo taken Dec. 1 by Milca Elvira Chacon.

The Israeli Perspective: Chico State Student Yarin Dan

Chico State student Yarin Dan was shocked by the Oct. 7 massacre carried out by Hamas.

Dan, a fourth-year student majoring in mechanical and mechatronic electrical engineering, was born in Be’er Ya’akov, Israel, in 2002.

“It was crazy. I was mind-blown at first,” Dan said.

Dan expressed relief over the fact that he was in America. He moved from Israel to the Bay Area with his family when he was 13 years old. 

“Like a day later, I got a call from my mom, and she was very happy that we were able to move to America,” Dan said.

Israel has mandatory military service, and Dan has friends who are in the military.

“All of my friends from elementary school and middle school, almost all of them, are in the military. They’re drafted; it wasn’t up to them. It was not their choice, but they’re drafted and are proudly serving there,” Dan said.

Dan said that if he hadn’t moved to America, he would be in the Israeli Defense Force, IDF, right now.

“If my parents and I had stayed in Israel, we’d be in the IDF right now. My parents would have been potentially re-drafted,” he said.

Yarin Dan (center) with his family in Jerusalem, Israel. Photo courtesy Yarin Dan.

The war has affected Dan on a deeply personal level.

“One person from my city was kidnapped as well,” Dan said. “People that were with me in my elementary and middle school ended up losing their lives in combat in Gaza, representing the IDF.”

He said that he has been hearing a lot through social media regarding the Oct. 7 attacks and Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

“I heard that he [Netanyahu] sent money to Hamas,” Dan said. “I hear a lot of people saying that he’s still not financing the government’s budget very well. I don’t trust that knowledge enough to talk about it.”

The New York Times reported that the Israeli government was aware of Hamas’s plans for the Oct. 7 massacre.

“I heard that Egypt had warned Israel,” Dan said.

Dan has conflicting opinions on Netanyahu’s government.

“Benjamin Netanyahu is not the perfect prime minister for Israel,” Dan said. “My personal belief on the matter is that you can’t really replace him right now. He has a lot of really strong connections to a lot of powerful people in other countries.”

Dan said there are misconceptions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict being spread on social media.

“I’m just hearing a couple of repetitive words thrown out there,” he said. “‘Genocide,’ ‘Apartheid,’ I’m just constantly seeing them in the same posts and posters.”

After being led by a prayer attendees help to relight each others candles. Photo taken by Milca Elvira Chacon at Hillel’s vigil.

In the past few weeks, multiple protests and demonstrations supporting the people of Palestine have taken place in Chico. 

“Those people don’t have a lot of background about the Israelis until very recently; they didn’t even know where the country was located,” Dan said.

Dan feels that antisemitism is on the rise in America, but not in Chico.

“I was very happy to hear about the protests and vigils in Chico,” Dan said.

So far, all vigils and protests held in Chico regarding the conflict have remained peaceful. 

“The Israeli protest and the Jewish protest are mainly for antisemitism and for the awareness of the danger that Jews have when they walk on the streets in most places in the world right now,” he said.

While Dan was happy about the demonstrations in Chico, he felt some protests in the U.S. and around the world have gotten out of hand.

“It was very sad to see a lot of protests get out of hand, like bridges getting blocked,” he said. “My mom works for United Airlines, and a lot of flights would get delayed because a lot of bridges in the Bay Area would get blocked off from protesting.”

Members of the Chico Jewish community gather on Tuesday night at the Chico State Hillel in solidarity. (Milca Elvira Chacon)

Dan said there are misunderstandings about the IDF, and said that the IDF tries to reduce civilian casualties during war. 

“The IDF does not want to hurt civilians. This is the IDF’s values. They’re trying to kill potential risks of attacks again. They’ll try to minimize civilian casualties,” he said. “The war had begun from Hamas launching that attack on October 7th.”

“Hamas was democratically voted just like Hitler was democratically voted in World War II,” Dan said. “It is very difficult to not support the terror organization in the country you live in where the terror organization controls.”

He believes that there are Palestinians who do not support Hamas. However, Dan said they hide that they don’t out of fear that they might get “beat up.”

Dan expressed how important it is to talk to those on the other side of political issues to expand your political knowledge.

“Polite and general discussions, without raising your tone while hearing the other side,” he said. “I would love to have conversations like that with Palestinians. Not just Palestinians but people who represent the Palestinian side.”

“One person from my city was kidnapped as well. People that were with me in my elementary and middle school ended up losing their lives in combat in Gaza, representing the IDF.”

— Yarin Dan

One of the reasons Dan wants to converse with Palestinians is to overcome his own media bias. 

“That’s why I, personally, would love to have conversations with Palestinian people to see where they’re reaching from,” Dan said. “Obviously, my sources of media are all biased to Israel. I’m only hearing from the Israeli perspective.”

This summer, protests took place in Israel against Netanyahu’s government. The conflict within Israel is important to address before beginning to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict, Dan said.

“The biggest conflict of this whole war is about the conflict within the Jews,” he said. “Because at the end of the day, Jews and Arabs will never be able to get along until the Jews will be able to get along in Israel.”

He believes that the IDF is trying to lower civilian casualties, and he is doubtful of some of the statistics put out by Hamas of civilian casualties.

“I do see crazy numbers out there, and personally, I don’t know how reliable they are, but it is very unfortunate to see that number that high,” Dan said.

“But I really hope the war will come to an end soon,” he said.

Sam Moore can be reached at [email protected].


The Israeli Perspective: Chico State Student Edan Asseraf 

After the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, mechanical engineering student Edan Asseraf’s brother was drafted to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces. This, combined with the lack of Jewish representation in Chico, left Asseraf feeling distressed and alone, he said. 

After Asseraf received the news about the attack, he and his family were devastated. Four days before the attack, Asseraf was in Los Angeles with his family. His brother returned to Israel and Asseraf returned to Chico on Oct. 5. A few days later, he received a call from his mother explaining that his brother had been re-recruited to the IDF. 

“So it was like heartbreaking at first and like schooling was a mess, when that was happening. It just hit hard for me and my family personally,” Asseraf said.

Asseraf recalled his parents, aunts and uncles contributing money for his brother and fellow troops due to the lack of materials they had at the time.

Since his brother’s re-recruitment, Asseraf has been in constant contact with him. He explained that his brother is in an abandoned city, at a standstill regarding the exchange of hostages.

Edan Asseraf (right) and his family in Israel. Photo courtesy Edan Asseraf.

Following the attack, Chico State’s Jewish student union Hillel held a candlelight vigil on Oct. 10.

Asseraf feels antisemitism is on the rise, especially in bigger cities. The lack of Jewish pride and population in Chico has also been a concern for him.

“It was very like calming for my family, knowing that I was very safe in Chico, California,” Asseraf said. “But it was also just a little like, unsatisfying in the sense that I had no like voice when it was happening.”

Despite feeling alone, Asseraf said being in the Jewish fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi, and talking to other Jewish people has helped him feel respected and safe. 

One misunderstanding that Asseraf said he sees in the conflict, is the LGBTQ community supporting Hamas. 

“If you’re rooting for an organization that’s not for you, and you’re trying to support them like it kind of pisses me off in a sense,” Asseraf said.

Asseraf said Israel has recognized this community.

“If you come-out as part of that community in that region, they will slaughter you almost immediately,” Asseraf said.

Students embracing during a moment of silence in for those affected by the Israel-Hamas war. (mi)

Asseraf also expressed that the public has misunderstandings of how the IDF retaliates to Hamas attacks and missile launches.

“But what people don’t know is that where Hamas is firing those missiles from is from hospitals,” Asseraf said.

He said this puts Israel in a tough position when defending itself.

“They’re using their people as a shield. We’re trying to protect our people with our shields,” Asseraf said.

Though Asseraf describes himself as a non-political enthusiast, he believes the Israeli government is neither at fault nor perfect.

“I don’t believe we’re responsible, but we’re also not fully out of blame. Like there is some stuff that we could’ve done better as a political party,” Asseraf said.

Asseraf said Israel’s response to the Oct. 7 attack wasn’t entirely incorrect because of the hostages taken and people killed.

“And I don’t think it was the best way to handle it. But I also am not opposed to what they did because of how many Jews they’ve killed on our side,” Asseraf said. 

Asseraf also believes Hamas doesn’t represent Palestine.

“I think there should be a very clear distinction between Hamas and Palestine.”

— Edan Asseraf

“I think there should be a very clear distinction between Hamas and Palestine. For the people of Palestine because their name getting tainted by Hamas is not right for them,” Asseraf said.

He believes splitting Israel between Jews, Christians and Palestinians is a part of making peace. However, he thinks the Oct. 7 attack will impact the prospects for reaching a two-state solution. 

Asseraf wants people to know that Israel is also affected by the war.

“I want people to know that. Israel, yes, we may seem quite powerful and mean on the news, but we’re hurting just as much as Palestine,” Asseraf said.

Milca Elvira-Chacon can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Milca Elvira Chacon
Milca Elvira Chacon is a journalism major with a minor in Broadcasting. She was a contributor for The Orion last semester, but is now officially working for the student-led newspaper. She hopes to strengthen her writing skills and contribute to stories that will positively impact the community. Outside of journalism, she enjoys hanging out with her friends and working out.

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    Susan Minasian // Dec 19, 2023 at 5:19 am

    This young man has a deep understanding of the Israeli response to the attack by Hamas. The Israeli response to Hamas’ October 7 th attack has not been fairly reported by most media outlets. I wish he could be interviewed by more media. And thank you to the Orion for reporting this interview in such depth.