war of independenceI grew up understanding that peace has never been the goal, peace without Justice always comes at the price tag of respect, dignity and identity. The only way peace has any meaning is if the conflict is resolved in a just and fair manner.

I am an Indian. I take the long view on EVERYTHING. I look at things not with an eye on a quick resolution but with just resolutions, because I know that with no Justice, no true fairness, conflict is never-ending. My people are technically peaceful now – it’s a peace that comes at the cost of too much. I do not want that peace, and I am working to achieve justice so that this peace is not in vain.

When I look at the history of my people, I am going back several hundred years in some cases to see historic crimes addressed and dealt with, so why would that change based on geography? My people had a historic injustice committed against us. Not only did some white European colonizers come and steal our land, but they attempted to steal our identity through rather obvious colonial mechanisms. Schools designed to “remove the Indian from the child” were just the tip of the iceberg; there were also policies of displacement, and delegitimization that we still see echoes of today in a Canada that is uncomfortable examining its past too closely.

What annoys me is that I have been involved in the struggle for human rights most of my life. It’s not just a hobby, and I am no tragedy tourist who needs to exaggerate or invent things to manufacture outrage to get people onside. I have no need to lie or make ridiculous statements because the truth of what happened to my people is self-explanatory and requires no exaggeration of false statistics to make its point.

If you said to me “Get over it” or “Yeah sure some Indians died but way less than you claim” you would get absolutely inundated with people willing to tell you off, and rightfully so. But I am gonna tell you a story, about a people who are constantly told “get over it” and “not that many people died.” And the sad thing is their entire history is filled with horrific events. Conversely, if you really look, their entire history has built up to this point in time where they have become the very definition of Justice.

The people of Israel were in the majority, forcibly displaced, by several empires. Each time they would slowly pick themselves up, dust themselves off and get back to work being Jews, doing Jewish things. Eventually they would rebuild and return only to have the next in a long line of asshats do it again. Romans, Greeks, Babylonians, Persians, The Reich, the Arab caliphates, the Persians again, and the Ottomans – all of them oppressed, killed and displaced Jews, and all of them have a single thing in common – they are no longer extant as empires or even really as peoples. Each time these empires did hideous things, and each and every time the Jews shrugged, picked themselves up and worked to get home. Most of the time they did it with no help, and while they had short periods of self-determination, they spent more time rebelling against imperialism and colonialism than in actually having self-rule. Yet they never gave up. They have a saying “Next year in Jerusalem” that speaks to their yearning to return to the place they were forced from. Jews, to put it bluntly, have been fighting colonization for most of their existence.

The achievement of a state for the Jews on their ancestral lands is the pinnacle of their peoples story, a story filled with sadness and destruction but also of unfathomable strength and determination. It’s easy to be strong when you are on top, it’s much harder to be strong when you are not ascendant. It’s actually a very simple story, a people displaced, forced to be wanderers, not allowed to own land anywhere, never being allowed to “belong,” being mistreated for 2,000 years, going home and building a thriving nation on land that was not only theirs by right of indigenous status but theirs by right of purchase, and then by force of arms after their former occupiers tried to take it all back. How then is this anything BUT a story about Justice achieved?

But what about the Arabs, you ask? The Arabs were ascendant for a thousand years. They left the Hejaz in an orgy of violence almost unparalleled in human history, they conquered the entire known world, force converted millions, killing millions more. They were subsumed and replaced by the Turks of the same religion. Most recently the Arabs lived as serfs under the effendi land owner class, and treated the Arabs poorly but worlds better than the Jews were treated. Those same Arabs would every now and then have a little Jew-killing party (pogroms), always reminding the Jews that they were dhimmis on their own ancestral lands. The Arabs were offered a state of their own with self-determination no less than 3 times, but each time they assumed their sheer numbers would win eventually, so they refused and chose war. They lie about their own history because they are ashamed of it. They were in charge, they were oppressors, who lost it all and were in turn oppressed by their Muslim brothers. Ashamed, they teach false history and steal the very stories of the Jewish people, and some of the so-called justice warriors try to help them. But at the end of the day , they are going to lose simply because they are on the wrong side of history. They are the former colonizers who stole indigenous peoples land, they are not themselves indigenous.

Something the social justice warriors struggle with is the mental gymnastics required to make the story of the creation of Israel into something it is not.

You have all the elements of the greatest achievement of Justice that has ever been – you had displacement of indigenous people, actual genocide, constant oppression, attempts to destroy and then to steal identity, religious persecution, slavery, forced colonization both of land and culture, rape murder, destruction of holy places – each and every one would been more than enough to destroy almost any people, but after 2,000 years of this, you have a people who didn’t fade. There were times when it was a very close thing – I am not saying those people are super human – they have generational trauma, they have PTSD, they have social issues, they have family problems, they struggle, but they have been forged into something, something that is both more than human but also more human than anyone else. That’s the part of the story that so many Jews get wrong. In a very human way they don’t want to talk about the missteps, the mistakes, the things that show the rest of us that the Jews are in fact human, that they are not just the best of what we can all be but also that it’s achievable for the rest of us.

Then you had the most important part of this story – the brilliant resurrection of a language that had only been ceremonial for generations, the survival of people who survived the unsurvivable. You had people, damaged and traumatized but TRIUMPHANT! Are you kidding me? These people in some cases got out of concentration camps, got on a ship, got off the ship and were handed a rifle and told to defend themselves and their very people. How could they lose? They had NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE. Fresh out of the camps, some of these people. Unimaginable trauma but unimaginable strength of will. Men and women were thrown into a fight for survival, only this time with an enemy they could fight against.They defeated FIVE Arab armies. They overcame odds so steep that literally not a single military expert gave them even a fighting chance. THAT WAS JUSTICE.

AND THEN after they won the War of Independence, THAT’S when this story really gets cool. THEY REBUILT THE ENTIRE COUNTRY LITERALLY FROM THE GROUND UP. I grew up on a farm, I know what it must have been like to pick rocks out of fields that were more rocks than dirt. I can’t imagine taking buckets of dirt and WASHING THE SALT OUT OF IT, bucket by bucket. Who does that? Only someone who not only loves the land, but who understands that their return was Justice defined. There were times that they almost gave in, times of hardship, but they persevered, because they know a truth that most people do not, that God helps those who help themselves, but for those who great things are expected from, great things are given.

So again, lets simplify. Massive crimes committed against the Jewish people, horrific crimes, but then Justice of a kind that has never been seen before, Justice that sets things right. They went home to their ancestral lands, they rebuilt their lands and while they continue to struggle, they are home and there is not a damn thing the Jew haters can do about it. That’s Justice. Indigenous people getting their rights to self determination, on their ancestral lands, it doesn’t get any more Just than that, it simply doesn’t.


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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