It takes an indigenous rights activist – even though he is not Jewish – to remind us of our own indigenous rights to Israel. I’m speaking of Ryan Bellerose, about whom I have written before, whose own fight for the indigenous rights of the Metis People, as well as other First Nations of Canada, brought him to a recognition of the Jews’ indigenous rights in Israel.
I reposted an excellent Facebook post of Ryan’s a few weeks ago, in which he detailed the Jews’ indigenous rights in Israel, but here he is in a very short (too short?) video clip explaining the crux of the matter:
A couple of weeks ago a Jewish Press blogger tried to refute Ryan’s claim for the Jews’ indigenous rights, but Ryan rebutted him in an excellent, blistering piece at Israellycool:
First Fuchs asks a question, a question that any Jew should be able to answer.
“Eretz Yisrael belongs to us Jews because we are somehow indigenous to the region. (What region, you may ask? The Levant? The Fertile Crescent?)”
I would hope that any Jew could answer that his people come from the Levant, as it’s central to Jewish identity. The fact that Fuchs cannot, speaks to his own lack of knowledge and his colonized view of his own identity. NOTHING in the Torah suggests that the Jews became a people outside of the land of Israel – in fact the Torah makes a very clear case of a cultural genesis in the lands called Judea and Samaria, or “the Levant”.
… In fact, when one examines the facts in a logical and systemic manner, one easily finds that Jews are indigenous according to Martinez Cobos standards (the UN standard) and the Arabs now calling themselves “palestinians” are not.
Fuchs completely misses the entire point. Indigenous status does not apply to Arabs within the state of Israel and while SOME Arabs may be indigenous to the Hejaz, one must remain consistent and use the same standards of indigenous across the board. Therefore the Arabs are not indigenous to the Levant. The checklist used by the United Nations is pretty much inarguable. The mental gymnastics required to make the Arabs fit into that box are simply not tenable. I won’t even go into his assertion that anyone can define indigenous – that is simply offensive and displays a complete lack of understanding of the word and term.
Ryan takes on the blogger’s argument that the Jews’ rights to Israel stem only from the Torah, and that therefore the Jews are NOT indigenous to Israel. This surreal and puzzling argument is blasted out of the water by Ryan – who, I would remind you, is not Jewish and yet seems to have a better and deeper understanding of Torah than the Jewish blogger!
The Torah in fact is the ultimate arbiter of Jewish indigenous status. It details your festivals (all of which make sense only in the Jewish people’s ancestral lands). The Torah details your cultural and traditional and spiritual genesis as a people, all three of which are signifiers of indigenous status. The Torah teaches you respect of the land and your people. The indigenous argument reinforces the Torah argument because it’s symbiotic. If you view the Torah as a textbook for how to be a Jew, you see quickly that the connection to the land is central, that God gave you the land but he also gave you obligations, one of those obligations being to be an example to the nations. This is why to anyone who is paying attention, you realize that without that connection there is no Jewish identity as such. This pathetic attempt to set the two arguments against each other is just a sad attempt at division by someone who not only doesn’t understand indigenous status, but clearly doesn’t understand his own identity or history.
The Jews are an indigenous people, they meet all the requirements. In fact, I would argue that they are the quintessential indigenous people. They fought for 2000 years to regain their ancestral lands and triumphed against overwhelming odds. They maintained their tribal connections in most cases and regained them in others. The Torah was central to that – without it the Jewish people would have faded into history, . That doesn’t mean you should rely on it when arguing with non religious people.
Ryan goes into much more detail in his brilliant rebuttal. Read the whole thing, if only to remind yourselves of the details and to give you a basis for use in future arguments.
And it’s not only indigenous rights activists like Ryan who remind us of our rights. Here is an honest and righteous Muslim with the same assertion:
and here is another one, from the Facebook page of Arabs who support Israel. This page has been updated and replaced by Muslims and Arabs against Antisemitism – which I strongly recommend you like and follow:
We must not let anyone take away our rights to Israel. We must not only internalize these messages, but we must put them into practice – no matter what the (un)enlightened world thinks or how much they scream – by asserting our sovereignty over all of Israel.
There is a lot more support for us out there than we realize, and in the unlikeliest of places.