By Mike Ely

Right out of high school, I took off on a road trip across the U.S. and, with a close friend of mine spent some time on a dirt-poor cattle ranch, wrestling hay bales along the Missouri river. Here, in the high plains, this was a time when Native American activism was breaking out into sight. Lakota people from Pine Ridge were militantly protesting the routine police murder of Indians in white towns around the reservations.

The white supremacy was raw and rather militant among a number of the ranchers I met.

I was startled to hear someone sit across from me at the table in a small diner and patiently explain (as if it was the obvious ABCs of the matter):

“You have to understand, the Sioux are a conquered people. We beat them. And so they have nothing to say. Nothing. And they need to be reminded of that.”

The memoriy of this returned when Eddy Laing posted an editorial page piece from the New York Times on Kasama threads, with the title “What you don’t know about Gaza”.

Officially, the Israeli attacks on Gaza are justified as “self-defense.” As if it is possible to have “self defense” of the stolen land of a white settler state. But the closing quote of this piece jumped out at me as the real strategic thinking in play. It quotes Moshe Yaalon, then the Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff, in 2002:

“The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.”

Think of the kinds of atrocities needed when a people are being “made to understand” that they are “a defeated people.” Think of how the civilian population itself needs to be targeted and broken. Think about the separation of action from justice, the celebration of conquest.

Remember Sand Creek, Colorado  in 1864 where Methodist minister John Chivington gave orders to his 3rd Colorado troops to include children in the coming massacre:

“Kill and scalp all, big and little. Nits make lice.”

Palestinians are not, of course, Native American people. Palestine is not the American high plains. This is not 1864, or the days of Wounded Knee in 1890. But the settler mentality is familiar and chilling. And, in service of such goals, the assault on Gaza is brutal, merciless and profoundly unjust. For the full text of “What You Don’t Know About Gaza”

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