Daniel Markind

Would Harriet Tubman Have Led the Israeli Hostage Rescue Mission?

During the years immediately preceding the start of the American Civil War in 1861, Harriet Tubman, the most famous leader of raids to free Black slaves, herself escaped from bondage in the South to freedom in the North.  Once free, Miss Tubman led numerous raids back into the antebellum South to free her family and then many others. During the American Civil War, she acted as a spy for the North and continued to infiltrate the South, providing invaluable intelligence as well as freeing other slaves.

Ms. Tubman spent the majority of her adult years in my hometown, Auburn, New York so she has always been a special interest of mine. Following the news reports which repeated the Hamas claim that the recent Israeli rescue of four Israeli hostages resulted in the deaths of perhaps 274 people in Gaza, I was struck by how many commentators said that the raid should not have taken place in light of the large death toll.  Would Harriet Tubman have led such a raid into the Antebellum South knowing the potential for a large civilian death toll?

Of course she would have.  When Harriet Tubman led a freedom mission south, she always went prepared. She never embarked on any freedom mission without her revolver, and she was always prepared to use it. She did not go on any freedom mission intending to kill people.  Indeed she preferred to get in and get out as quickly as possible.  Whenever she was in danger, however, she would do whatever it took to ensure the success of her mission and the freeing of her enslaved people.

Prior to his bloody raid on the Federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in 1859, Ms. Tubman met with John Brown and compared notes on aggressive ways to free slaves. She did not participate in Brown’s actions, but there is no evidence that she dissuaded him from his intentions.

Ms. Tubman did not suffer fools. Very blunt and outspoken until her death in 1913, one always knew where she stood on any particular issue.  It is impossible to believe that she would have accepted the concept that because slaves were being held around Southern white people, the potential danger to Southern white people meant that Southern blacks could not be rescued.  That position would have been as farcical to Miss Tubman then as it is to most clear-thinking people now.

How ironic it is that those who justify the Palestinian invasion and massacre of October 7 on the grounds that Palestinians were liberating themselves from Palestinian oppression and Israeli “occupation” now Israel for liberating its own people from Palestinian incarceration.  Clearly to them morality is entirely one-sided.

Harriet Tubman understood no such moral relativity.  She intended to liberate her people, and woe to anyone who stood in her way.

About the Author
Daniel B, Markind is an attorney based in Philadelphia specializing in real estate, commercial, energy and aviation law. He is the former Chair of the National Legal Committee of the Jewish National Fund of America as well as being a former member of the National Executive Board and the National Chair of the JNF National Future Leadership. He writes frequently on Middle Eastern and energy issues. Mr. Markind lives in the Philadelphia area with his wife and children.
Related Topics
Related Posts