Reconciling Indigenous Rights With Political Realities

Contrary to the revisionist pan-Arab doctrine which now permeates left wing spaces, the aboriginal people of the Holy Land are not the Palestinian Arabs, but the Jews and Samaritans – known collectively as the Israelite/Hebrew nation. As a monotheistic outcropping of the Canaanites, we trace our ethnic origins to the southern Levant, having resided there for more than 8000 years prior to the conquest, deportation, and enslavement of our people by the Romans. And even in diaspora, where surrounding populations continuously pressured us to assimilate under the pain of death, we have preserved our culture, our history, our religion, and our identity as the people of Israel. From the shtetls of Poland to the ghettos of Iraq and beyond, we remained connected to each other – genetically, spiritually, and culturally – united in our yearning to one day return to our lands and finally liberate them – and ourselves – from colonial rule. These dreams were mostly realized with Israel’s re-establishment in 1948.

Right now, you’re probably asking: “why did you use the term ‘mostly'”? The answer is simple: because we are not yet fully emancipated. A sizable chunk of our lands, including cities of vital national importance (e.g. Hebron, Bethlehem, Shekhem, and the eastern half of Jerusalem, Temple Mount included), remain under Arab control. Moreover, antisemitism is still a powerful force in many parts of the globe, and has even begun to take root in regions that were once relatively neutral, or even friendly to Jews. Arguably, the driving force behind this “new antisemitism” is the Arab world, who became what they are today through centuries of colonialism, the destruction/subjugation of innumerable indigenous cultures – ourselves included, and appropriation of our lands and resources. Likewise, they remain committed to the dissolution of the Jewish state and the restoration of our territories to Arab colonial domination. By disguising their goals with the language of “anti-imperialism” and harnessing the latent antisemitism in Western (or Western colonized) cultures, they’ve succeeded in winning millions of converts to their fundamentally immoral cause and, ultimately, turning world opinion against us.

The solution to all of this may seem simple on its face: “to hell with the rest of the world, just annex Judea and Samaria and be done with it”, but there are an array of obstacles to the wholesale annexation of our lands (hereafter referred to as the ‘one state solution’) that should give pause to any Zionist, especially liberal minded ones. For starters, the demographics of both Israel and J+S, when taken together, strongly suggest that a one state solution would make us a minority within our own country, which would perforce leave Israel with only three options.

1. Ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

2. Revoking Arab voting rights.

3. Disavowing the Jewish character of Israel in favor of a binational state, paving the way for an inevitable Arab controlled apartheid state (see also: Lebanon) – assuming they allow the Jews to continue living there at all.

Options 1 and 2 are self-evidently immoral and therefore out of the question, and option 3 would be tantamount to surrendering to the anti-Israel movement. Therein lies the challenge that liberal minded Zionists who care deeply about Jewish indigenous rights are faced with. How does one reconcile the decolonization of all of our lands with the preservation of Israel’s Jewish and democratic character? This is a question that I’ve struggled with for years, although I am now confident that I’ve found a solution that simultaneously respects the inalienable rights of both peoples without compromising Jewish indigenous rights.

In my view, the only way to achieve this goal is with a two state solution, one wherein Jews are permitted to live in the Palestinian state in accordance with the UN’s Indigenous Rights charter, and granted all of the attendant protections and liberties. Additionally, the Arab world must acknowledge its colonial past (this means “Jesus was a Palestinian” and other such nonsense needs to go), redress past and present injustices by any means possible, and cease all violent activity and/or incitement against Jews and the State of Israel. Some will consider this solution farfetched, perhaps even delusional, but it is the only one that I feel is genuinely just. If indigenous rights matter – and they do – then we need to start acting on these rights and enforcing them to the best of our collective ability.

About the Author
Half-Irish/half-Jewish American activist, musician, and writer.