I Said Hamas Raped and Beheaded. The Yale Daily News Issued a Correction.

October 31, 2023

Editor's Note: The Yale Daily News—"the oldest college daily"—is one of the most prestigious undergraduate newspapers, and its editor in chief one of the most sought-after and influential positions a college student can hold. The Washington Free Beacon reached out to Yale Daily News editor in chief Anika Seth with a series of questions about the paper's decision. Seth, who identifies herself as one of the paper's "inaugural Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion co-chairs," did not respond to a request for comment regarding what evidence the Yale Daily News requires to substantiate the claim that Hamas raped and beheaded Israelis or what if any atrocities perpetrated by Hamas the paper considers a point of fact. Nor did she respond to a request for comment about whether the paper has a policy of consulting with writers and reporters about corrections, or advising them when corrections are issued to their reports or op-eds. 

I escaped Yale University this weekend to celebrate the Jewish Sabbath in Brooklyn with a deeply pious Chasidic community, the neighborhood papered with "KIDNAPPED" posters featuring the faces of Israelis taken hostage by Hamas.

I was relieved to be away from hostile protests where many of my classmates have cheered—in reference to Hamas's Oct. 7 massacre of Israelis—that such "resistance is justified." At an Oct. 25 protest, Yale students publicly admonished an Oct. 12 op-ed I wrote for the Yale Daily News. In it, I noted that the student group Yalies4Palestine had blamed the victims for their plight, arguing that "the Israeli Zionist regime [is] responsible for the unfolding violence," and called on the Yale community "to celebrate the resistance's success."

I was in Brooklyn when I learned that the Yale Daily News had done its own part to help the "resistance," excising four sentences from my piece. They referred to Hamas's atrocities. "Yes, they raped women. Yes, they kidnapped children. Yes, they beheaded men. Yes, they cheered the whole time."

Appended to the article now is the following correction, made without my knowledge: "Editor's note, correction, Oct. 25: This column has been edited to remove unsubstantiated claims that Hamas raped women and beheaded men."

When the Sabbath ended on Saturday evening, I reached out to the paper's editor in chief. I was in a Chasidic synagogue while I waited for her response. There, I met a Jew whose high school friend was killed by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7. Last week, a nonprofit English tutoring group I work for informed me that some of our students were among the victims of the massacre. And the week before that, my close friend told me that her family friend's body was found at the Nova concert. I could go on.

The Yale Daily News editor in chief told me that at the time my piece was published—five days after Hamas carried out a pogrom reminiscent of the bloodiest 19th-century atrocities—"there was swirling unsubstantiation [sic] of the rape and beheading claims."

Unlike the Nazis, who took pains to hide their actions, Hamas broadcast them to the world. Live videos of the horrors were circulating on the internet—and on broadcast television—on the day of the attack. For those with lingering doubts, or inclined to split hairs about whether victims were beheaded or simply found with severed heads, international reporters were on the ground in Israel within 48 hours to chronicle the atrocities.

"We saw boys and girls bound, who were shot in the head. Men and women burned alive. Young women who were raped and slaughtered. Soldiers who were beheaded," Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the world on Oct. 11.

The correction added to my piece wasn't a one-off, a fluke, a case of a rogue editor's bad judgment. My friend Ariane de Gennaro's Oct. 13 op-ed now includes the following correction: "This column has been edited to remove unsubstantiated claims of rape." She told me that, like me, she was not consulted about the correction.

Yale Daily News editors are not such sticklers when it comes to lobbing accusations at the Jewish state. An Oct. 17 op-ed accuses Israel of the "indiscriminate targeting of hospitals," without mention of the fact that Israel actually targets Hamas operatives and infrastructure that the terrorist group hides among civilians, like the troves of rockets found in a U.N.-funded school. Another states point-blank that social media companies shadow-ban anti-Israel posts based solely on the fact that those posts experienced a drop in views.

I draw attention to my peers' cold minimization of Jewish suffering in part because I have a personal connection to it. Eighty years ago, my grandfather's mother, sister, and brother were murdered by a Nazi firing squad. Today, I see history repeating itself.

I wish I could write off my classmates' foibles as youthful stupidity, but I see professional journalists making the same mistakes. It's not an accident: The Yale Daily News is their breeding ground, and in a few years, the editors who wrote and approved that correction will go on to careers in the mainstream press, which is chock-full of Yale Daily News editors and reporters. Take the New York Times, where the author of the flagship daily newsletter, the paper's diplomatic and Supreme Court correspondents, and the host of the paper's hit podcast The Daily are all Yale Daily News alumni.

This pipeline is full of sewage, and it shows. The Yale Daily News is now a home for modern-day Holocaust denial, where brutalizing Jews does not need to be justified. It's just denied outright.

Sahar Tartak is a sophomore at Yale University.