miniature kotelSun Tzu once wrote, “First make yourself invulnerable, then make yourself invincible.” He also wrote “ You must not count on the enemy not coming but always be ready for them, you must not count on the enemy not attacking but make yourself so strong that you are invincible.” (Sun Tzu, The Art Of War.)

Now you may wonder why I am prefacing this with a quote from an ancient Chinese guy known best for being good at war. I believe quite simply, that we are at war, only it’s a new battleground and one which we must be prepared for. I believe that our best weapon in this war is simple, it’s the fact that when someone is strong in their identity, it cannot be taken from them. When one is strong in one’s identity, they are in fact invulnerable to any attacks on it.

I have come by this knowledge honestly, having seen in the Native rights struggle, the dominant culture’s attempts to steal the identity of my people and having watched the world try to impose its values, beliefs and even religion on indigenous peoples worldwide.

Identity has become a buzzword – so has authenticity – but its those two things I believe that have been underutilized in the fight against Jew hate. It’s really simple – if you act like something matters, then others will assume it does, and if you act as if something does not matter, then others will ascribe it the same lack of value and will likely try to take it. We see this in Hevron with the Tomb of the Patriarchs, where Israeli ambivalence has led the Arabs to believe that they can simply out-wait the Jews. We see it in Judea and Samaria, with the Arab attitude that they can use the very same tactics against the “oppressors” that the Jews used to remove the British Occupation. In asymmetrical warfare against an occupying force, one doesn’t need to destroy the oppressing force, one need only make the cost of the occupation outweigh the benefits. Low intensity warfare works to the advantage of the side that has less military power. The reason the Arabs have made a huge mistake is actually because the Israelis and Jews in the diaspora have screwed up and have acted like colonizers rather than the indigenous people they are, so is it any wonder that the Arabs are confused and act as though they are fighting a war against occupation and assume that those tactics will work? In fact the Jews will not leave; after a two thousand year diaspora they are incredibly unlikely to ever leave again, but they still act as though they might. This causes massive problems.

What does any of this have to do with identity? Either the identity of the Jews or the much more recently constructed identity of the “Palestinians”? Simple, Jewish identity is something that is not easy to define, let alone by non Jews. You people have been confusing the hell out of white people for thousands of years. For starters, it’s an indigenous identity that defies the overarching white European culture because its spirituality and culture are intertwined with its traditions and language. Simply put, it’s impossible to remove any single aspect of Being a Jew and remain perfectly authentic, and when you add in all the additions that came in the diaspora, you end up with a people who have some very complex identity issues to decolonise in order to find their authentic identity. Even speaking about it is considered taboo because Jews have been conditioned not to question certain things (which is patently ridiculous given the name of their nation and their tendency towards debating anything and everything). I struggled with talking about this at first because as an indigenous person I know how annoying it can be to have outsiders discussing my identity, but I also realized I had a lot of help in learning to decolonize myself, and though I’m still on the path, I figured I better at least try to help my friends as best I can, even if it means alienating some of them who will not understand the importance of this.

The reason Jewish identity is so integral to this struggle is simple – the other side is claiming that Israelis are not indigenous, that they are “white colonisers” who stole “Arab ancestral lands”. Now this claim is patently ridiculous to anyone with a 3rd grade education and a commensurate reading level, but sadly often the Jewish people’s own actions and reactions suggest that they themselves are not quite decolonized enough to claim their birthright and heritage. Many of them still see their identity through a white European lens, rather than a Middle Eastern lens, and this leads not only to massive confusion but lost opportunities such as the Temple Mount and now in Judea and Samaria.

I have documented Jewish indigenous status beyond any reasonable doubt. I have given you the language and hopefully the knowledge to defend the position, but YOU must internalize your identity. YOU must decide to decolonize and then YOU must decide what that means to YOU and your people.

Its really simple – you are Jews, your culture is ancient, your traditions date back three thousand years and your spirituality is intertwined with both. Only you can decide what you should be keeping and what you need to lose, but ask yourself, what would my ancestors say? Would they say “You needed those things in diaspora, but now you are home again and it’s time to evolve and become who you are meant to be” or would they say “Stay as the diaspora made you out of necessity”? I believe you are meant to be a Light unto the Nations, to show us the way that indigenous people are supposed to evolve while maintaining the core of your identity. You have fought so hard to stay Jewish – literally hundreds of generations have lived and died to bring you to this point. Your ancestors fought, bled and died for you to remain Jews and even more recently for you to be able to go home as Jews to your ancestral lands. They didn’t do that so that you could be the end of it. They did it so that you could be the beginning, the beginning of a brave new world, one that is unassailable.

Now be invulnerable in your identity, then be invincible.

THAT is your birthright.



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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