It’s Halloween, this year lacks that familiar sense of whimsy.

Today, sadly, rather than focusing on the delights of supernatural horrors, candy-fueled stomach aches, and thrills for the whole family, we are reminded that the worst monsters are us. This Halloween, all eyes are on the horror unfolding in Gaza.

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In the weeks since the deadly October 7 Hamas terror attack that claimed 1,400 Israeli lives, the nation’s right-wing government has launched a brutal campaign of indiscriminate violence on a region where nearly half of the population of 2.3 million are children. That campaign has included at various points cutting off power, necessities like clean water, and internet while bombarding the region with airstrikes that have to date killed more than 3,000 children.

Through this violence, Israeli officials current and former have engaged in extreme rhetoric. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for example, invoked religious text to justify the violence. He has said calls for a ceasefire are calls for ‘surrender’ to Hamas. In a recent television appearance, Dror Eydar, Israel’s former ambassador to Italy, declared that Israelis are not interested in “rational Palestinian talks,” but instead have one purpose: “destroy Gaza.” He added that after October 7, anyone who threatens or kills a Jew “has to die.”

The devolving situation is fueling a surge of both anti-Muslim and antisemitic hate around the world, including in our own backyard. It is also fueling peaceful protests demanding freedom for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.

Meanwhile, the whole conflict spells bad news for President Joe Biden, who has thus far declined to take a firm position for peace, instead choosing to stand by Israel’s right-wing government. Already struggling with young voters, Biden’s posture is risky and has prompted backlash within his own party. Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, herself a Palestinian American, posted a video on her Instagram warning that she and others will not forget the president’s posture in 2024. Recent polling has Biden hemorrhaging support among Arab American voters with just 17 percent saying they plan to vote for him.

Still, pressure is mounting against the violence. Calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire are growing louder. A number of human rights organizations, prominent world leaders, and even newspaper editorial boards have joined the calls. Examples include Pope Francis, Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam, UNICEF, Amnesty International, If Not Now, Save The Children, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, and the editorial board of Financial Times. But sentiment alone will not end the conflict. Governments must decide that the bombings have to stop; that prisoner exchanges must happen; that negotiations for long-term solutions, including an end to Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.

This Halloween, we stand with those hoping for an end to horror.

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For more on the situation in Gaza, please check out these articles, videos, and podcasts from OptOut participating outlets:

"Bearing Witness To Gaza’s Grief Shouldn’t Feel Like A Radical Act" from Defector.

"Expel all Palestinians from Gaza, recommends Israeli gov’t ministry" from +972 Magazine.

"How To Talk About Gaza (w/ Naomi Klein & Omar Baddar)" from The Lever.

"US media is evading its responsibility to acknowledge the Gaza genocide" from PRISM.

"Bed Bath & Beyond Scion Pressured Artists to Retract Gaza Ceasefire Call in Artforum Letter" from The Intercept.

"As Biden Ramps Up Aid to Israel, Time to Defund the Military?" from Rising Up With Sonali.

The OptOut Media Foundation (EIN: 85-2348079) is a nonprofit charity with a mission to educate the public about current events and help sustain a diverse media ecosystem by promoting and assisting independent news outlets and, in doing so, advance democracy and social justice.

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