It’s Not An Argument

whats another word for Israeli indigenousA good friend sent me an article regarding the “Indigenous Argument.” The important thing to note here is that it is not an argument. In fact it’s a fact the Jewish people ARE indigenous to the land of Israel – science in the forms of archaeology, genetics and basic history have all confirmed it.

I will post the “article” and then point out the ridiculous and unsupportable nature of it. I will show why it is incorrect and I have no doubt that the morons who wrote it will respond the way people of their ilk always do.

I searched the internet for the “original” article, and couldn’t find it anywhere. I also don’t know how something this poorly researched needed to be written by two authors. Honestly, its more like a Facebook post than a researched article. The Fallacy of the “Indigenous” Argument for Israel by Barry Sexton and Moshe Schwartz All rights reserved, © Moshe Schwartz & Barry Sexton, 2014.

Sorry folks, but I’ve about had my fill of this “indigenous” discussion. And by “discussion” I, of course, am referring to the circle jerk that frequently recurs on Facebook in regards to who are the “true” native peoples of Eretz Yisrael. Anyone who invests even a half hour of research can tell you that the Arabs who call themselves “Palestinians” are relatively late blow-ins to this tiny part of the world. With such such common names as El Masri – the Egyptian, El Haurani – from the Syrian province Hauran, El Iraqi – from Iraq, El Tzaurani – from Tyre, El-Sidawi – from Sidon, El Tarabulsi – from Tripoli, Al Mughrabi – the Moroccan, al-Yamani – the Yemenite, how could they not be?

Umm yeah that’s sort of the point if the indigenous argument, that colonizing conquerors do not have the same rights to the land as indigenous people.

But I have news for you: It’s not us Jews either.

Let’s look at the Torah, and make sure that we quote it correctly. G-d did not place us in this land originally. Instead, he gave it to us to conquer from the incumbent Canaanites. Let’s drag up a verse or two to drive the point home. “Now, the Lord said unto Abram; get out of your country and from your kin, and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.” [Gen. 12:1] “And Abraham took Sarai, his wife, Lot, his brother’s son, all their possessions, ans the souls that they had made in Haran, and they went forth into the land of Canaan.” [Gen. 12:5, in part]. Abraham was NOT indigenous to Israel (Canaan). He left Ur in Sumer, and went first to Haran, and THEN to Canaan.

And nobody is claiming that Abraham was indigenous, I have written specifically about this; Abraham was from UR, Abraham was what we would call a proto Jew, and while he would be the “father” of the modern Jewish people, the Jewish people had not had their cultural genesis (the key signifier of indigenous status yet).

Have you ever paused to consider why Israel is called the “Promised Land” and not the “Native Land?” If you choose to accept the theory that the matter of people’s indigenousness is of paramount importance in regards to a particular area of land, you must then consider the lot of other groups and nationalities. When English white supremacist groups speak out against “godless foreign invaders”, they easily forget (or perhaps it never entered their cavernous heads) that, 1,500 years ago, “their” ancestors were the godless foreign invaders from Germania, wreaking havoc upon the Christian Celts. And what of the Celts themselves? They only settled in France & the Low Countries, Iberia, Britain and Ireland from Central Europe 2,500 years ago – we’re talking First Temple times – replacing the previous Neolithic inhabitants

This has nothing to do with indigenous status, they literally just started writing about European colonialism and imperialism, basically throwing crap at the wall and hoping some would stick.

Exactly how far back to you want to go with this indigenous discussion? Now nothing is as sweetly hypocritical to the ear as the tune of an American nativist telling immigrants to go back to where they came from when they themselves have roots in their land that don’t even extend as far as the Arab migrations into the Levant (a couple of centuries). But even the Native Americans (from all over the Americas) are migrants from the Asian continent who made the trip across the Bering land bridge before the last Ice Age thawed. The same goes for Australian Aboriginals. The Sumerians – one of, if not the first civilizations in history – would have a hard time adapting to their land in 21st century Arab Iraq. Mankind in general is descended from Africans and that’s only taking about Homo Sapiens! Of course, the indigenous argument is supposed to be based on scientific notions without a whit of religious dogma attached. This inevitably leads to nationalism, which inherently isn’t necessarily wrong when talking about other nations around the world.

You go as far back as you need to to find the cultural genesis, the creation of a language and religion and other signifiers. If these two gentlemen had bothered to do some basic research (that would have taken far less than the half hour they cited earlier) they would find two important facts. 1. Indigenous status has no statute of limitations. 2. Indigenous status is not about being somewhere first, it’s about the genesis of culture and tradition on an ancestral land more than anything else. If they had then spent another half an hour they would have learned that in fact not all Native Americans descend from people who crossed the Bering strait land bridge (which predates the Arab conquest by about SEVEN THOUSAND YEARS minimum). They would also have learned that the African theory has been challenged recently by the discovery of ancient human remains predating that of the African remains previously thought to be the oldest in the world. YAY SCIENCE.

What is our original claim to this land? Where does it come from? Does it come from the Word of Hashem? Or from archaeological evidence which somehow supersedes all other evidence before it? You won’t find the answer in any science books. What about converts who are not indigenous??? What claim do they have to the Land then? If the argument is primarily an indigenous one why would non-Jews want to convert and become second class Jews with no linkage or claim to the Land? We could go back and forth with anyone and everyone claiming the Land of Israel based on religion (“Night Journey”, anyone?). But of course, as Jews, we don’t believe in every religion. As Jews, we only believe in Torah. Or at least we ought to. Oh, and in case you forgot, Abraham was born in Sumerian Ur. In fact, if you think about it, and look carefully at the history in the region, you find out he was the LAST Sumerian.

Being indigenous doesn’t remove any religious claims, it just doesn’t rely on them. If you were paying attention, you would know that as a tribal indigenous people, your religion is part and parcel of that status. Your belief system DEVELOPED ON YOUR ANCESTRAL LANDS IN CONJUNCTION WITH YOUR TRADITIONAL BELIEFS IS WHAT MAKES YOU AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLE. It is not contradictory to state that you believe you have a religious right to your sacred places and ancestral land, in fact that is absolutely an integral part of being indigenous. Converts are a tiny minority, but that’s also an easily settled question as converts to the Jewish faith are said to be ADOPTED INTO THE TRIBE. It is nothing like converting to Catholicism where you get dunked in a pool and someone says “now you are Catholic.” (I used to be catholic by the way before anyone gets pissy). The statement “If the argument is primarily an indigenous one why would non-Jews want to convert and become second class Jews with no linkage or claim to the Land?” is just a stupid statement. Nobody is denying a religious and spiritual connection to the land by the Jewish people. Quite the opposite. And by the way, some of the people who I met in Israel who were non religious, felt that connection to the land. Indigenous peoples often feel a very strong connection and link to their ancestral lands and we believe the land responds to us, sort of how the land of Israel only flourished when the majority of Jews returned?

Now, if that bothers you, and you are a Child of Abraham, contact me and I’ll make up a Sumerian passport for you!

Sure thing, only request is that you take the rest of the ultra religious with you.

The bottom line is these people making the argument that the Jews are not indigenous, do so from a place of ignorance. The argument is important because it’s recognized across religious lines and its true. I am totally ok with people arguing with me, but this is not an argument, this is akin to a spoiled child putting his fingers in his ears and yelling because he doesn’t like something being said.


Ryan Bellerose

A member of the indigenous Metis people, Ryan grew up in the far north of Alberta, Canada with no power nor running water. In his free time, Ryan plays Canadian Rules Football, reads books, does advocacy work for indigenous people and does not live in an Igloo.

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