Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Palestinians as Injuns. Israelis as Cowboys

Sometimes the right is so far right, its right.

Take this quote from an article by Sharon Speevak in Canada.Com

... like Palestinians, First Nations have outstanding land claims arising from their expulsion ...

Speevak wants to make the point that Canada would also violently suppress its First Nations if those people attempted to reclaim their lost lands: lands where most Canadians now live. And since that is so, why criticize Israelis for doing the same thing.

But, of course, the Palestinians have also seen what became of the North American Indians, and that is precisely why they are fighting so hard to prevent it from happening to them. They don't want to be reduced to living on  "reservations"  (aka, "camps', "Area A". etc...)  It is interesting to note in this regard that the South African authorities based their 1940's apartheid laws, in part, on Canada's Indian Act (see here) and that Israel based its current de-facto policy of separation and confinement of Palestinians to the semi autonomous PA controlled Area A and Hamas controlled Gaza Strip, in part, on South Africa's 1970's policy of Bantustans (see here.)

I think the analogy of the Palestinians as the First Nations and the Israelis as the European Settlers is quite apt. Though, as with any analogy, it is not 100% accurate. On the one hand Jews had a historic link to Israel/Palestine that Europeans did not re North America (though they tried to create one through myths such as "The New Jerusalem"). And the Palestinians, unlike the First Nation, were not a small and scattered people that was easily subdued by overwhelming numbers, vastly superior technology, and lack of disease immunity. While we Canadians have gotten away with our historic injustices to the First Nations, Israel, it seems will not be so "lucky". Nor, if we believe in justice, should it be able to.

(For a related opinion, by American Indian activist Winona LaDuke, see here.)

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