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This is Palestinian boy’s corpse I found in my camera roll after returning from a Peace study mission to Israel. To learn more more google: “You have my sympathy Ilhan” and my name.
NOTE: What follows was largely composed before today’s news that a million Palestinians have been ordered to leave their high-rises and apartments in Gaza City so that the Israeli air force can bomb their homes.
The baby shooting - soldier decapitating attack on the secular Jewish enemies of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu may require 100 years to be viewed objectively. So, I will put myself in the shoes of missionaries to the Indians during the Indian wars of a past century. Distance allows more objectively.
In 1862 Sioux Indians, cheated out of their lands by Indian agents were now dependant on shipments of food promised to them in exchange for their lands. It was already stored next to their encampments. Asked for food one trader told the Sioux to “eat the grass.” The Sioux went a little Hamas on white settlers.
Missionaries bringing the light of God to the Indians knew all about this perfidy. They were hard pressed not to sympathize with the “bad” Indians. But in 1862 there was only one acceptable response for most whites. It was almost universal and bore little resemblance to the New Testament.
Young warriors who saw their sisters, brothers mothers, wives and children starving did not have their elder’s patience. Their elders had been invited east to meet the Great White Father and more importantly been given sightseeing tours of America’s wealth, power and population. The Sioux’s ten or twenty thousand were pitted against tens of millions. To the young warriors a different calculus applied. They were blind with rage. Seeing Americans fighting a civil war gave them unfounded hope. They thought it gave them a free hand to win back their lives.
It is said the first blood was drawn when an angry farmer accused hungry men of thievery for holding a single hen’s egg. White retribution was now certain so they attacked other lonely cabins. The elders lost the debate. There was no turning back.
But even in 1862 thinly settled Minnesota had three times as many settlers as Sioux. A settler army would be fighting hungry men saddled with women and children. In 1862 starvation was not an acceptable justification for the excesses of the warpath. When the Sioux were defeated there was more starvation, concentration camps, typhoid, a new trail of tears and eventually the seizing of children for schools to erase Indian custom and language.
With the cool detachment of a hundred years it is easy to see how regrettable these unforgiving punishments were. But we moderns can comfort ourselves that we didn’t do it. Minnesotans bent on the law if not justice ordered hasty military trials. They found 300 Sioux guilty of war crimes and sentenced them to be hung. As the Commander of the army the sentences were forwarded to the President for his review. Any other President would have likely hung them outright but despite the all consuming gravity of the North’s faltering war effort Lincoln picked through the evidence and whittled the death sentences down to 39.
Today there is an almost irresistible call for vengeance against Hamas but it should be remembered that of 5 million Gazan’s only a few thousand swarmed and killed. That’s a lot of innocents.
Similar stark calls for vengeance have decimated Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Venezuela and rained refugees. Some have skipped past Europe and traveled north from Panama to the Texas border. They face Narcos, Rapists, extortionists and tropical disease for a muddy slum under Mexican tents. No doubt tens of thousands of displaced Palestinians will soon join the trek.
The inhumanity of Hamas mirrors that of Iran. When the ayatollahs took over Iran they reminded their avenging angels that Islam forbade the execution of virgins but wink winked that rape ended virginity. One of my guides to the Mideast is my Minnesota contemporary NY Times columnist Tom Friedman. Fifty years ago while Christian schoolmates threw pennies on the floor for the greedy jew to pick up he exalted when Israel beat back a surprise attack on three fronts. The Yom Kippur War proved Jews could hold their own.
He wrote From Beirut to Jerusalem in 1989. He was hopeful then and I’ve followed him since. His hope is fading but not his keen insight. Of this twisted massacre he points out that it wasn’t observant land stealing Jewish settlers that Hamas attacked. Hamas targeted secular Israelis who are more sympathetic to Palestinians rights and who have repeatedly filled the streets to denounce Bibi.
What Hamas wants is for Israel to fail. They have decided that the best way to achieve failure is to strengthen the Prime Minister who has put staying out of jail ahead of preserving Israel’s democracy. In this Bibi is not unlike Donald Trump who tried to achieve this on Jan 6th, 2021. Like the despots of Russia and China these “democratic” leaders are trying to pull a Napoleon and crown themselves Emperor. Benjamin Netanyahu may be remembered in a future century like the Indian Agent who told the Sioux to eat the grass.
Harry’s words flow semi-regularly like Old faithful at lincolndemocrat.com