Collective Guilt / Collective Punishment

The town of Sayreville, New Jersey is in mourning.

The superintendent of the town shut the high school’s football program for the rest of the year due to reports of sexual assaults made by upper classmen of the football team against the junior classmen. According to initial reports, the incidents have been commonplace for many years.

The town outcry has not been limited to the assaults on the teenagers. People in the town have been vocal and angry about the cancellation of the year’s games and the number of people they feel are unfairly impacted. One resident said: “I don’t think the whole team should be punished. I feel like only two or more students are involved, and they are the ones that should be kicked off.

The investigation into the hazing is in early stages, but it is fair to conclude that many people that did not participate in the crime will be impacted by the cancellation of the team’s football season. Impacted parties will range from team players, coaches and cheerleaders to business people that rely on the games to generate traffic into their stores.

Debates over collective guilt and collective punishment are not new. In many instances, the guilty parties do not squarely overlap with those impacted by the punishment. Oftentimes –as made clear by the Sayreville superintendent- the punishment serves to protect the assaulted parties in an absolute fashion while penalizing the broader collective in a relatively minor fashion.

Should the investigation yield certain results, people would certainly reconsider the broader community culpability in the crime. Imagine if the following facts were uncovered:

  • The form of hazing was written as part of the team manual
  • The team acquired lots of equipment that was specifically used for hazing rituals
  • The team had a statue of one of the seniors who successfully led the most hazings
  • The name of the stadium where the team played was of an acknowledged child molester
  • The coach was seen in various YouTube videos extolling the virtues of hazing to get the desired results from his players
  • The town democratically elected the coach knowing of his support for hazing

This sounds too crazy to remotely resemble reality. If it were true, people would conclude that the entire team, coaching staff, school and town were all equally culpable for the terrible deeds done to the teenagers. The state and country would demand more than just cancelling the season, but a dismantling of the entire institution. The town would be blacklisted by every organization in the country and effectively shut down, as the collective guilt would be seen as wide and deep.

The insane list above does not relate to Sayreville, NJ; but they are the actions taken by Palestinians and their elected leadership.

  • The Hamas Charter calls on all Arabs to kill Jews everywhere
  • The Palestinian Authority routinely praises murderers of innocent Jewish civilians and names squares and tournaments after the killers
  • Hamas used the cement it requested as “aid”, not for building schools or homes, but for digging tunnels into Israel to attack, abduct and kill Israeli civilians and soldiers
  • The tunnel network from Gaza started in homes of many Palestinians
  • Hamas launched thousands of rockets targeting Israeli cities
  • The head of Hamas called for deliberate bombings of Israeli cities to the cries of support from thousands of Palestinians
  • Hamas was democratically elected by Palestinians in January 2006, winning 58% of the parliament
  • Polls in August 2014 have Hamas winning 61% of the vote

What was the “punishment” that Israel enforced against the rabid anti-Semites that sought to kill its citizens and wipe out the country? Israel enforced a blockade of Gaza in 2007 after Hamas took control of the area. Yet it continued to allow electricity, food and supplies into Gaza despite the repeated Hamas statements that it sought to destroy Israel. The goal of the blockade was not a punishment, but a means to stop the flow of arms into Gaza which would be used to attack Israel.

What was the world reaction to a relatively light blockade of Gaza compared to the deliberate killing of Jews and destruction of Israel? A rebuke at the nature of the collective punishment on all of the people in Gaza.

Consider the Sayreville, NJ case again. Imagine the football team, school and community participated in all of those theoretical actions. How broad and severe would the punishment be? Each of those actions are not theoretical, but the reality of Palestinians in their approach towards Jews and Israel.

Sometimes collective action against the heinous acts of the majority is not enough. The world should not only support the blockade of Gaza; it should enforce the dismantling of Hamas in its entirety.


Sayreville football scandal:

Sayreville town people comment:

The Palestinian democracy for Hamas:

Hamas election 2006:

Hamas August 2014 poll:

Hamas Charter: “In order to face the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews, we have no escape from raising the banner of Jihad.”

Fatah dedicating square to Dalal Mughrabi, murderer of 37 people on a bus:

Washington Post article on Hamas building terror tunnels:

Palestinian leadership on Jews and Israel:

Palestinians rejoicing in the bombing of Israeli cities:

The outrageous inversion of reality by Rashid Khalidi in the New Yorker:

Yasser Arafat quote: “We will not bend or fail until the blood of every last Jew from the youngest child to the oldest elder is spilt to redeem our land!”

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