Response To A Poorly Conceived Article

It came to my attention a while back that a group of Jewish people were badmouthing me on social media, and attacking some articles I wrote. The main two once authored a piece about the indigenous argument that I eviscerated, and I guess they stewed about it for a while and then started going after me on social media. Personal attacks were thrown my way, and to be honest it was more amusing than anything. The accusations of me hanging out with missionaries etc were amusing given that I AM NOT CHRISTIAN.

Recently one of the authors wrote a column attacking one of the very first articles about Jewish indigenous status that I wrote. I will now correct some of the things he asserted. This will likely not be gentle as I have no patience for asshats and this guy is a world class asshat.

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 ientity. 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”.

I agree that many indigenous rights advocates are on the side of the Arabs, that stems from ignorance of where indigenous status stems from and from the simple fact that the Arabs have been pushing a false narrative of “white Jewish Europeans” conquering “poor brown Muslim Arabs rather than any inherent bias in the indigenous argument itself. 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.

I should probably add here that I am not a “self identified” Metis, I am Metis, according to my family, My people and the Metis proclamation of Alberta and the government of Canada. But then Mr Fuchs makes his motivations much more clear in the next paragraph

“Frankly, I am not interested in this general discussion since I cannot concern myself
with the issues of the “indigenous peoples” of the world. Furthermore, the pseudo-academic ramblings of some leftist sociologist who writes statements for the United Nations has no bearing on my beliefs. Nor are they relevant to Jewish concerns. From a Torah perspective, the Arabs have no rights to Eretz Yisrael, nor do any non-Jews, even among the most noble and righteous of them. Mr. Bellerose is willing to grant Arabs “rights of longstanding presence.” I am not. Because the Rambam and the classical rishonim and acharonim say differently.”

First, nobody has asked Mr Fuchs to concern himself – frankly given the level of his writing I would prefer he did not. Now as to whether Martinez Cobos Checklist is relevant to Jewish concerns, it is my belief and the belief of RATIONAL Jews everywhere that anything that further cements the rights of Jews to live in peace on their ancestral lands matters. I did not “grant” the Arabs anything. I stated that in the modern world, rights matter but the rights longstanding presence generates in the eyes of the world matters much less than the indigenous rights that Jews have.

Next we have this gem:

“Fortunately, such concepts are both irrelevant and unnecessary for Jews who follow Torah. Eretz Yisrael belongs to us Jews exclusively, for one simple reason: G-d gave it to us. From a Torah perspective, the false claims of other groups who argue likewise are irrelevant, since their ideologies arose long after G-d revealed Divine truths at Mount Sinai.”

This argument would be valid if a) the entire world believed in the Torah or b) the world was not constantly trying to steal the Jewish ancestral lands.

Here is where Mr Fuchs veers off completely into asshat town:

“Yet the indigenous rights movement as it relates to Jews is not only foolish, it is dangerous, since even the most well intended advocates harbor un-Jewish notions far removed from Torah values. They have become spokespersons for Jewish values, when their ideas are antithetical to Torah. They would like to see indigenous rights applied to other groups in Israel, not just Jews. From the Torah perspective, this is entirely incompatible with Halacha. Whether advocating for a purely secular Israel, or a pluralistic Israel allowing equal rights to all faith communities, none of these are in accordance with Halacha.”

In point of fact the indigenous argument supports the Torah argument and is hardly dangerous. What is foolish is ignoring the roots of the argument which basically are all about ties to the land, the importance of the land to the Jewish people and the ancestral and spiritual nature of that importance. It reinforces JEWISH identity and strengthens Jewish identity by showing that Jewish ties to the land are deep and spiritual. By the way, there is only one other group that has a legitimate argument to indigenous status in Israel and that is the Samaritan people who number less than one thousand and are hardly a threat. It’s a straw man to infer that the indigenous argument advocates for a secular Israel, or a pluralistic Israel – those are simply not concepts ingrained in the actual indigenous argument.

“On a more troubling note, some of these indigenous rights activists have alliances and friendships with missionary groups and prominent messianic personalities. On their trips to Israel and across the U.S., they often meet and greet these individuals, and in doing so, betray that they are not people who have our best interest at heart. They are not a monolithic entity, yet it is fair to say that these activists all have their own agendas. Many sensible Jews support their campaigns, and the dangerous claim that our right to Eretz Yisrael is, at the very least, partially due to indigenous rights.”

I am not sure who the people are he is referring to here, but it sounds like rabble rousing to me. The truth is that the majority of PRO-ISRAEL activists have alliances with anyone who supports the existence of the Jewish state of Israel. The simple truth is that in the modern non religious, non Jewish world, the indigenous rights argument has validity, while the Torah based argument on its own does not.

Next we have this brilliant analysis and by brilliant I mean ignorant beyond belief.

“Indigenous rights” is a multicultural strain of thinking that ironically many normal Jews who usually reject such notions accept without question. They accept the definitions of indigenous activists, which always remain vague enough to avoid scrutiny, and are imbued with the kinds of racist, blood-based theories that would be rejected outright if suggested by any mainstream group. Anyone who cites “blood quantum” in any context, other than to provide a blood transfusion should trouble us. Such ideas certainly have no basis in Torah. Yet in this case, since a handful of activists are willing to apply this exotic term to Jews, many hasbara types enjoy the prospect of appearing native”

Again, indigenous rights have nothing to do with multiculturalism. The definition of indigenous is in fact not vague at all to anyone who actually bothers to read the articles I have written. There is no racism, only a simple acknowledgement that there is a blood-based component to all of this. It’s not simply a matter of identity. The Jewish people are in fact an actual people who had a tribal genesis and trace their ancestry to a specific region to specific people and who managed to maintain that tribal identity in diaspora. And yes, they managed to maintain blood ties. It’s not about “appearing native”, it’s about understanding your own identity which is in fact native to the Middle East in general, and Israel in particular.

Now is where Mr Fuchs displays his ignorance in an almost laughable fashion

“Consider the situation with Amerindians in North America. Contrary to the tenets of politically correct history, the notion of indigenous rights as it is often applied to them is historically problematic. Never one to take unbridled political correctness sitting down, I reject the contemporary portrayal of all “native Americans” as peaceful environmentalists. Savagery was not the sole domain of “the white man,” since long before there were white men on the continent, Native Americans butchered one another. The archeological records attest to this fact; they expelled and killed one another.”

I think Fuchs mistakes political correctness for idiocy. Nobody says Indians were all peaceful, but regarding this assertion that “long before white people were on the continent” we “butchered one another” – we had wars, we fought, but we did not fight wars of extinction or imperialism in North America.

But wait, he gets even more ridiculous.

“As an example, one can look at the histories of the migration of Native American whose peoples originated in Asia and migrated towards North America. Given the origins of their people, the following questions are surely reasonable:
Did such people abandon their indigenous status to their original lands when they migrated? Did they retain indigenous statuses in both regions?
What is the indigenous natures of tribes who displaced and exterminated other tribes from different regions during the many brutal campaigns of warfare that tribal people’s engaged in with other Native Americans?
In the case of American Indians who earned indigenous claims through blood and warfare towards other tribes, might Europeans who came to North America not make the same claims? Those who came later simply bested those who lacked better weapons and resources. (I state simply in the interest of theoretical discussion, without opining on nuances of the morality of the overall conflict”
I will begin by stating quickly that the physical origin of a people is not what determines their indigenous status, I have been clear about that. this entire section of the argument is a canard, however for arguments sake I will debunk it.

First, the Bering Strait THEORY is not the only theory and genetics show that that not all Indians in North America share the genetics that would make it possible.

Question 1 – a people’s indigenous status is determined not by their physical origin but by the genesis of culture tradition and language along with spirituality, so the first question is moot.

Question 2 was more of an idiotic attempt to insert a statement. First, there were not wars of extinction in North America – anthropology, archaeology and oral history show clearly that those things were not part of North American Indian society. So again the question is moot.

This would answer question 3, and if Mr Fuchs had bothered to read my article, he would know that you do not become indigenous THROUGH conquering an indigenous people. Again, there must be a cultural genesis in conjunction with several other things as I wrote very clearly in the article that Mr Fuchs supposedly read but clearly did not read carefully.

Now it gets even better (or worse if you are a rational intelligent person).

Those activists who argue for Jewish indigenous rights ignore the historical record conveyed in the Torah of indigenous “First Nation” people who fell under our sword. Non-believers may question the authenticity of the biblical account, but even a bible denier cannot reject the historical record. They were here first. Most honest Native Americans see parallels with Jews who entered “Canaan” with colonizing Europeans, who “stole land” from the Indians.
From a Jewish perspective, the notion of a blood-based identity is an affront to Judaism, which accepts the genuine convert. Our connection to Torah is based upon adherence to the law rather than imagined notion of race. In a sense, the Jewish desire to argue “indigenous rights” is a reaction formation to absurd Arab assertions that they are the descendants of Canaanites.

G-d gave us the land of Israel, despite the presence of “indigenous” peoples who were there long before us. It did not matter, since The Almighty created everything. Upon entering the land, our mandate was clear. Clean the land of the “indigenous” inhabitants

In fact the Torah can be read on several levels, but again it’s important to understand that indigenous status is not about “who was here first” as such. The Bible clearly states that the Jews came to the land with Abraham, but at that point before Torah, they were not actually Jews but a collection of peoples more accurately described as Hebrews. Abraham actually purchased the land near Hevron and this theme is throughout the Torah. To be absolutely clear, Jewish indigenous stems from the genesis of the Jewish people that took place as evidenced by Torah, not the physical origin of the progenitor Abraham who was from Ur. While the Torah states that you killed all the Canaanites, the archaeological evidence suggests that they joined your people.

Converts are an interesting conundrum. They are accepted by the Jewish people and that’s good enough for me. We accept adoptees even while acknowledging that by blood they are not indigenous. They are still equal to us in all respects.

The idiocy in stating that “honest Native Americans” would side with the Arabs is patently ridiculous, but then so is denying the tribal nature and origins of the Jewish people. Making many of the statements that Mr Fuchs makes shows a profound ignorance of history, Jewish identity and even rudimentary knowledge of Jewish history.

Now is my favourite part of the entire idiocy passing for an article where Mr Fuchs quotes me extensively yet fails to quote me accurately. He quotes my conclusion but leaves out perhaps the most important line because it does not support his assertion.

I am not going to quote myself for reasons of lenghth however I will quote the one line that Mr Fuchs failed to add. Oddly enough, it’s the single line that absolutely destroys his entire conclusion

“If you should encounter the argument that conquerors may themselves become indigenous to a region by virtue of conquering, direct them to this article.”

Now reread that line very carefully, because it is the single most important line in my article and Mr Fuchs had to leave it out of his quotes because simply put, his entire assertion is based on a flawed understanding of what indigenous status stems from.

You see, being a conqueror does not make being indigenous impossible. In fact, it doesn’t enter into the equation. If as according to my assertions and researched article, one is indigenous based on certain requirements then as long as you meet those requirements you are in fact indigenous. The idea that simply conquering indigenous people makes you indigenous is what I was referring to, and by leaving out that single line, Mr Fuchs was being dishonest, both intellectually and morally.

So his conclusion no longer makes sense.

“From a Torah perspective, the notion that we Jews have a claim to Eretz Yisrael based upon “indigenous rights” is absurd. We are not “indigenous” to Israel. Indigenous is a nonsense term which race obsessed multiculturalists use. Israel belongs to the Jewish nation, because G-d gave it to us. We conquered the Canaanites, and now it is ours. Our claim to Eretz Yisrael is Divine inheritance. Indigenous claims amount to pseudo-science, which in turn, would grant indigenous rights to practically every other minority group living in Israel today. In fact, this is the intention of many who advocate for such a concept.”

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.

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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. Ryan was unsure if his real name was "Go get water!" or "Go get wood!" 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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