The media isn't doing a very good job of covering the peaceful protests at Standing Rock in North Dakota. The protests have brought together numerous Native American tribes--some of them historic rivals--in standing against the greedy, neocolonial oil enterprise that is seeking to build a pipeline that trespasses through native lands, would destroy ancient grave sites, and poison the water supply of native communities. Allies of the "Palestinian cause"--Arab and non-Arab alike--are seeking to exploit this and hijack this cause for their own twisted narrative. If anything, this just highlights another missed opportunity for the Jewish community. It's true that many Jews stand with the Standing Rock protestors, including Jewish Voice for Peace. But why isn't it that we as a community haven't come together more around this cause? For decades the Jewish community, particularly in the Western Diaspora, has tried hard to "blend in" and "assimilate", at the expense of our status as an aboriginal people of the Levant. Only now are some Jews--many of us Millennials--realizing and embracing this truth. 

One need not be a Native American to stand with the North Dakota protestors. One need not be Lakota, in fact. The Sami people of the Arctic Circle region of Scandinavia, as well as Native Hawaiians, have made it clear that they're on the side of indigenous communities of the North American mainland in their fight for water, land, and environmental rights. And it's great that pro-Palestinian people also stand up for Standing Rock. However, it's shameful that their narrative is engaging in shallow, opportunistic lies and ignoring their own history. As someone with indigenous ancestry from both North America and the Levant, I find it deeply insulting that many of these pro-Palestinian "activists" think we're dumb enough to merely accept their pitiful attempt to look and seem native to the Holy Land, despite their history. The Arab Conquest is something rooted in historical reality. Berbers, Jews, Kurds, Persians, Indians, and Black Africans paid for it with their lives as their lands were taken from them. Their holy sites were destroyed and replaced with mosques; their religions deemed "dirty" as Islam was forced upon them; and their people enslaved. This is historically akin to the injustices that Black Africans and Native Americans faced at the hands of British, Portuguese, French, Spanish, and other European colonial powers. It's no different than the bloody imperialism forced upon millions of Asians and Pacific Islanders during World War Two by the Japanese. The Palestinian narrative is based on a lie that seeks to bury the colonial truth of their people under a political correctness that would give them a pass because they (mostly) aren't Christian, and because they have brown skin. This soft bigotry of low expectations must end, and so must the phony attempts made by Palestinians at "being native". 

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As Jews, we have a moral obligation to make this world better while we live here. The values of Tikkun Olam have long been fixed in our consciousness, and we should be very proud that we've made contributions in the USA against the racist Jim Crow Laws, against homophobia and anti-abortion laws, and so on and so forth. There's a reason that most Jews in the USA vote for Democrats, even though in recent times they seem more accepting of anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic activity. The values of the Democratic Party align with those of Judaism. But just as there's work to be done within the Democratic Party, there's work to be done within the Jewish community. It's time we, as a people, stop trying to pass. Stop straightening those curls. Stop saying you're ancestors were "from Poland", or that you're family is "European"; I think in Europe they made it very clear we as a people were not from there and weren't welcome. Even in the 21st Century, they still are. We need to embrace our history, our culture, and our values with pride. And we need to do what's right and stand up for indigenous rights around the world. The Jewish people, against all odds, did it in Israel.


Israel is the only country to enter the 21st Century with more trees than when it entered the 20th Century. Against all odds, it's defeated every enemy that tried to destroy the reborn Jewish state. It reunited its capital city after 2,000 years of being occupied or divided by foreigners. It drained the malarial swamps and made the desert bloom. It created the Start-Up Nation, and revived a nearly dead ancient language to a degree that it's nearly identical to the Hebrew of millennia ago. The story of Israel and of its Jews is an original tale--the story of an aboriginal people who, after centuries of persecution, occupation, and dispersion, freed themselves and resettled in their ancestral homeland. Sadly, it's too late for all others to do the same. But that doesn't mean we can't do more to assist in other ways. Israel is one of the most environmentally friendly countries in the world, and exports its agricultural and environmentally-friendly know how to many poor and drought-stricken parts of the world. Israel is something of a legend to many native peoples across the globe. But us Jews need to do more to connect with these communities, help them, and stand in solidarity during their times of need. This not only helps others in their battles against neocolonialism, but it also improves the Jewish people's (and Israel's) image and delegitimizes the poisonous and historically inaccurate Palestinian narrative. Let us reclaim the mantle of Light Unto Nations, but change the meaning. Israel has set something of an example for some other native groups (Kurds) in their quest to found a state of their own, but can also set an example for and help in terms of preserving the environment and a people's history. 



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