By Crethi Plethi
In a time when Canada is facing a growing unrest with aboriginal people demanding to discuss treaty rights, better economic development, jobs and a greater share of natural-resource royalties, Arab-Palestinian human rights groups seek to link the Canadian Idle No More movement to the Palestinian cause. This Arab-Palestinian “victim narrative” serves the International agenda of isolating Israel and demonizing Jews as the source of ‘Palestinian suffering.’
A statement of several Arab-Palestinian activists reads,
Indigenous people have risen up across Canada in the Idle No More movement, a mass call for Indigenous sovereignty, self-determination and rights, against colonization, racism, injustice, and oppression. As Palestinians, who struggle against settler colonialism, occupation and apartheid in our homeland and for the right of Palestinian refugees — the majority of our people — to return to our homeland, we stand in solidarity with the Idle No More movement of Indigenous peoples and its call for justice, dignity, decolonization and protection of the land, waters and resources.
We recognize the deep connections and similarities between the experiences of our peoples — settler colonialism, destruction and exploitation of our land and resources, denial of our identity and rights, genocide and attempted genocide.
Thus implying that the Palestinian Arabs are suffering as result of Israeli “colonization, racism, injustice and oppression.”
But in the Canadian newspaper The Métropolitain, Ryan Bellerose, the son of a Métis leader, tells Palestinian Arabs to stop with trying to gain credibility at the Canadian Aboriginals’ expense by claiming commonality with them.
I am a Métis from Northern Alberta. My father, Mervin Bellerose, co-authored the Métis Settlements Act of 1989, which was passed by the Alberta legislature in 1990 and cemented our land rights. I founded Canadians For Accountability, a native rights advocacy group, and I am an organizer and participant in the Idle No More movement in Calgary. And I am a Zionist…Let me tell you why.
…The ultimate David and Goliath story: Israel, a tiny country that had fought for independence from the British Empire, was forced from its first moments to defend its existence against the combined armies of the Arab world…The 1976 Raid on Entebbe, a brilliant rescue by Israeli commandos of hostages taken by Palestinian terrorists to Uganda…Israel was willing to do the impossible to rescue its people, regardless of the political fallout…I learned about the ’72 Munich Olympic Games, where Palestinian terrorists massacred 11 Israeli athletes during an event meant to be a celebration of brotherhood and peace…The horrific 1972 Lod Airport massacre where terrorists shot dead 26 civilians waiting for their flights, including 17 Christian pilgrims. I also remember the 1985 attack by Yasser Arafat’s forces on the Achille Lauro cruise ship, where an old disabled man was thrown overboard in his wheelchair for the crime of being a Jew…The more I learned, the more I grew to appreciate Israel’s moral integrity in the face of brutal hatred. And I came to believe that the Jewish people and Israel should serve as an example to indigenous people everywhere.
My people, the Métis, came to Alberta after the American Revolution, at the government’s request, to prevent the settling of the Americans in western Canada. We settled the land and followed the white man’s rules. But we were eventually evicted, our homes given to white pioneers. No one wanted us. We were forced to live in hiding, on road allowances, in the bush. We had no rights, and we were killed out of hand, as “nuisances”. Exile fractured our nation. Our people wandered with no hope and no home. Then, in the mid 1900’s, our leaders managed to secure land for us, not the land we had wanted but land that would nonetheless allow us to build a better future. We took it, built our settlements and formed a government to improve the lives of our people…In this, the Jewish people and the Métis have walked the same road.
The Jews also suffered genocide and were expelled from their homeland. They were also rejected by everyone and forced to wander. Like us, they rebelled against imperial injustice when necessary and, despite their grievances, strived for peace whenever possible. Like us they were given a tiny sliver of their land back after centuries of suffering and persecution, land that nobody else had wanted to call home until then. Like us, they took that land despite their misgivings and forged a nation from a fractured and wounded people. And like us, they consistently show a willingness to compromise for the good of their people.
Many claim that we Natives have more in common with the Palestinians, that their struggle is our struggle. Beyond superficial similarities, nothing could be farther from the truth. Beyond the facile co-opting of our cause, the comparison with the Palestinians is absolutely untenable. It trivializes our suffering.
Co-opting today’s native struggle to the Palestinian propaganda war is a fallacy…for 65 years, the Palestinians have convinced the world that they are worse off than many other stateless nations, despite all evidence to the contrary. The Palestinians claim to have been colonized but it was their own leaders who refused to negotiate and who lost the land that they want by waging a needless war on Israel. They claim to have faced genocide but they suffered no such thing…They claim deprivation but their elites live in luxury while their people live in ramshackle poverty.
What’s more, the Palestinian leaders have never been interested in a peaceful solution for their people. They were given several opportunities to have their own state — for the first time in history — and refused each time, choosing war over peace because the offers were never deemed sufficient. They have persistently used terrorism to bring attention to their cause and their leaders have celebrated the killing of civilians by naming parks and schools after murderers. And any Palestinian that questions the maximalist rhetoric or who suggests real compromise is immediately ostracized, branded a traitor, or killed.
The Palestinians are not like us. Their fight is not our fight. We natives believe in bringing about change peacefully, and we refuse to be affiliated with anyone who engages in violence targeting civilians. I cannot remain silent and allow the Palestinians to gain credibility at our expense by claiming commonality with us. I cannot stand by while they trivialize our plight by tying it to theirs, which is largely self-inflicted. Our population of over 65 million was violently reduced to a mere 10 million, a slaughter unprecedented in human history. To compare that in whatever way to the Palestinians’ story is deeply offensive to me. The Palestinians did lose the land they claim is theirs, but they were repeatedly given the opportunity to build their state on it and to partner with the Jews — and they persistently refused peace overtures and chose war. We were never given that chance. We never made that choice.
Read the full article here.
As history shows, Arab (with a few exceptions) and “Palestinian” leaders have commonly been focusing on the elimination of the State of Israel rather than making peace with it. To claim commonality with the indigenous people of Canada is not only deeply offensive, but a historical distortion of the truth as well.
(h/t Elder of Ziyon)