Thoughts On The Israeli-Hamas War From Colonial America

Thoughts on the Israeli-Hamas War From Colonial America

As Americans, our best lens for looking at the current and future Israeli-Hamas War likely is not 9-11 or Pearl Harbor. They’ve come to people’s minds but I don’t think they tell us much. I suggest something a little more unusual. Let’s take a moment and gather a few points from the period of the American past usually known as “colonial history.” I know there are more recent terms but I’ll go with this. No offense meant or intended, though I’m sure plenty will be found and taken.

In the colonial period of the American experience, four wars occurred in the seventeenth century between Natives and English colonizing settlements. These wars presented a substantial threat to the survival of the colonizing settlements. They are: Jamestown, 1622-1632; Massachusetts Bay, 1635-1638; Virginia, 1644-1646; and the set of New England colonies, 1675-1678.

I’ll note something of great importance here. My listing of the four conflicts above is defined through a European perspective. A Native perspective could yield a much longer list as far more conflicts with English/British colonists proved fundamentally threatening to Native life on Native land. A Native vantage point would also produce a different list than what you’ll see below.

One thing more. I’m not equating anyone with anyone else. I’m just looking at this quartet of experiences and offering thoughts from the effort.

With that said, let’s proceed…

The list below can serve as one filter (among many others) for seeing where the Israeli-Hamas War is now and where it might go in the future. I’ll be using the term “side” to denote the primary two protagonists in a war.

1. Total destruction occurred on one side. Whatever negotiations occurred came after a shocking level of destruction had been reached. The ability to carry on life as it had been known was exhausted. Consequently, the will to continue fighting was gone.

2. Each side relied on an often bewildering range of allies and alliances. The choice of allies and alliances reflected an attempt to access an advantage that wasn’t otherwise available to each side. These arrangements were not permanent. They shifted.

3. The two sides clashed not only in battle but also in the nature of battle. Tactics were not similar and thus their dissimilarity became a point of definition between the two sides. It also became a decision for each side to consider as to when, or if, they could adapt the tactics of their enemy.

4. A substantial period of time was consumed by each conflict. It didn’t end quickly. Months dragged to a year, one year dragged to two, and so on.

5. People played a surprising role beyond the waging of war in battle. Hostages were taken and kidnapping happened. The health of a particular leader loomed large. The decision of a particular person to do this or do that produced an outsized effect.

6. Deeds done and actions taken during the war created stories and myths that lived longer than the participants.

Just a half-dozen points for you to consider.