Nat Turner and Gaza

Nat Turner's Insurrection Marker
Virginia historical marker of Nat Turner’s insurrection that also targeted “civilians”.

By David Sole

The Zionist settlers of Israel have never needed an excuse to kill Palestinians. The very act of seizing and occupying someone else’s land demands violence toward the victims of the displacement. The more sustained the violence, the greater the need for the oppressor to dehumanize the oppressed.

The very creation of the “state of Israel’ required driving out about 750,000 Palestinian civilians from their homes and country. Violence and terror were used from 1947 onward. In the village of Deir Yassin, just weeks before the creation of “Israel,” the Zionist terrorist groups Irgun and the Stern Gang murdered over 107 Palestinian men, women and children on April 9, 1948.

Asked for political and financial aid by Shepard Rifkin, the U.S Executive Director of the Stern Gang support group, Albert Einstein wrote “I am not willing to see anybody associated with these misled and criminal people.” In his April 16, 1948 letter he called them a “Terrorist organization buil[t] up from our own ranks.”

Moishe Sharret was Israel’s second prime minister from 1953 to 1955. He kept a personal diary that became the basis of Livia Rokach’s 1985 book “Israel’s Sacred Terrorism.” Sharret carefully recorded the policies of anti-Palestinian terrorism of the Zionist security agencies in the founding and early years of the Zionist state. A review of Rokach’s book states “The diary reveals how in the early 1950’s Israeli leaders deliberately provoked Arab states by military operations and covert terrorist actions, stirred up mass hysteria in Israel, and began plotting the takeover of southern Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank.”

For over 75 years this policy of oppression, dispossession and terror against the Palestinian people has continued, financed and armed by United States imperialism. Israel is a military base to defend the U.S. interests in Middle East oil against Arab nationalism. It is an apartheid state bent on settler-colonial genocide of  the Palestinian people.

On October 7, 2023, the fighters from Gaza made a bold escape from the “world’s largest open air prison” for 2.3 million Palestinians. They attacked and overran two military bases and many settler colonies purposely positioned all along the border of Gaza. Settler towns and kibbutzim have been financially and militarily promoted as “facts on the ground” which aim to contain and expropriate Palestinian lands and resources. Over 1300 Zionist soldiers and settlers have been killed.

Friends of Palestine and all those committed to an end to colonialism and racism should not be silenced with the hue and cry about “innocent Israelis” being killed. This propaganda is being used to justify the war crime by Israel of the collective punishment that Gaza is being subjected to.

By any means necessary

Oppressed people have the right to wage their fight for liberation by “any means necessary” as proclaimed by Malcolm X. No one has the right to limit or decide their tactics for them. Certainly no one should put an equal sign between violence of the oppressed and that of their oppressors.

The long history of slavery in the United States saw many forms of resistance. Slave uprisings are now part of African American history taught in many schools (perhaps not in Florida anymore). Should one single out the rebellion led by Nat Turner and condemn it for being too violent?

On August 22, 1831, the enslaved Nat Turner led an uprising of about 70 other slaves. They armed themselves with what they could and marched on the Southampton County seat of Jerusalem, Virginia. Wikipedia tells some of the story.

“The rebels traveled from house to house, freeing enslaved people and killing many of the white people whom they encountered … .The rebellion did not discriminate by age or sex and the rebels killed white men, women, and children. A newspaper noted, Turner declared that ‘indiscriminate slaughter was not their intention after they attained a foothold, and was resorted to in the first instance to strike terror and alarm.'”

After two days: “The infantry defeated the insurrection with twice the manpower of the rebels, reinforced by three companies of artillery.” The Virginia militia, of course, had guns while the insurgents had clubs, knives and axes.

According to history “Turner thought that revolutionary violence would awaken the attitudes of whites to the reality of the inherent brutality in slave-holding. Turner said he wanted to spread ‘terror and alarm’ among whites.” (op. cit)

It took another 30 years but the entire criminal system of slavery precipitated the Civil War which overturned chattel slavery by 1865. One of the heroes of the anti-slavery Union troops was General William T. Sherman, who used terror tactics of his own.

An analysis of General Sherman’s military campaign by Jay Tolson was printed in on June 24, 2007. He characterized the total war policy of Sherman as going “beyond combat between opposing military forces to include attacks, both deliberate and indiscriminate, upon civilian and non-military targets.”

Tolson quotes scholars McPherson and Marszalek that: “Sherman’s greatest innovation was in psychological warfare. ‘Sherman came to the conclusion,’ says Marszalek, ‘that the best way to end the war was not to continue the bloody head-to-head fighting but to convince Southerners through destructive and psychological warfare that their government could not defend them…and that the Confederacy itself was …a hollow shell.’”

Civilian settlers in North America also became targets of the many Indigenous nations that populated the continent. As the incursions and attacks by the European colonizers increased, Native American resistance grew apace. Of course the mass media portrayed the attacks on settlements, farms and wagon trains ravaging their lands as unprovoked attacks, senseless violence and pure evil – just the words spewing from the mouths of Israeli politicians and President Joe Biden.

The intensifying genocidal attacks on the Palestinians in Gaza and across the West Bank will never stop the just struggle for national self-determination by the Palestinian people.

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