- By Levi Rickert
Opinion. Two weeks ago on Saturday, the surprise attack in Israel by radical Hamas that left over 1,300 innocent Israeli men, women, and children dead stunned the world. On that Saturday, as stories emerged from Israel there were horrific accounts of women being raped, children being brutalized, and men being beheaded. It was a pure evil unleashed on innocent people.
As the stories were recounted by the media during the following days, I thought these are the accounts that could have been reported at Sand Creek on November 29, 1864 had there been a 24-hour news cycle. These are the accounts that also would have been reported from Wounded Knee four days after Christmas in 1890.
During both of those massacres, Native Americans were raped, children were brutalized and put to death. The elderly and Native American warrior men were killed.
One first hand account relayed from the Sand Creek Massacre was recorded for history’s sake by First Calvary’s Company C Sergeant Lucien Palmer who wrote: “The bodies were horribly cut up, skulls broken in a good many; I judge they were broken in after they were killed, as they were shot besides. I do not think I saw any but what was scalped; saw fingers cut off [to take rings] saw several bodies with privates cut off, women as well as men.”
Violence committed by the U.S. Calvary against Native Americans was evil then, and terrorism committed against Jewish people today is just as evil.
I have a good friend, Dr. Irv Berkowitz, who I met three decades ago when he was dean of social work at Grand Valley State University, located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, my hometown. Dr. Berkowitz is Jewish. In his retirement from academia, he spends his time lecturing on the Holocaust. In recent weeks, he has been a consultant to the production of “Harmony” that opens this fall on Broadway in New York.
He and I often talk about the parallels of what has happened to Jewish people and Native Americans–the connection between genocide of Native Americans and the massacres of Jewish people. A few evenings after the war broke out two weeks ago, I called my friend to see how he was doing.
With tiredness in his voice, the first thing he said was: “Brother Levi, what is happening to my people now is what happened to your people.”
He then said he had just found out that a good friend of his was killed at the music festival.
We talked about threats to Jewish people around the world that have persisted seemingly throughout history.
On May 14, 1948, on the same day Israel became a nation, the United States recognized Israel through a proclamation by then President Harry S. Truman. Ever since then, the United States has declared its unwavering support of Israel. Two weeks ago, President Joe Biden told the world, the United States of America supports Israel.
“As long as the United States stands — and we will stand forever — we will not let you ever be alone,” Biden said.
After the surprise attack on Israel by Hamas on October 7, 2023, Israel has retaliated with brute military force, shutting down water and electricity to over two million people who live in the Gaza strip, which is one of the most densely populated regions of the world.
Innocent people–children, women and men–on both sides have suffered greatly due to the politics of the region.
The Hamas, the ruling group of Palestians in Gaza, are radical brutal terrorists who should be removed from power in Gaza.
We should not cast an evil light on all Palestians because of Hamas. It was wrong for an American to kill an innocent Palestinian mother and six-year boy a week ago in a Chicago suburb.
As a Potawatomi who views American history with a critical lens, I realize I cannot cast an evil light on all Americans who lived in the 1800s because of the evil atrocities committed by the U.S. Calvary against innocent Native Americans.
As a man, who loves peace, I pray for the peace of Israel and for the safety of the innocent Palestians living in Gaza.
Thayék gde nwéndëmen - We are all related.
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