Israel: The First Modern Indigenous State

I have been arguing for some time that we need to place the long Arab war against the Jews of the Middle East within the modern western civil rights paradigm.

If the west, or at least the western-left, honors the struggle among people of color for national liberation, or if they support the struggle among women for full and equal rights throughout the world, or if they believe that Gay people should be afforded equality before the law, surely they must accept that the Jewish people also deserve rights to self-determination and self-defense against our persecutors.

Over at Israelycool, Ryan Bellerose, a Native-American Canadian activist has a few words on the matter:

The actual working definition of “indigenous people,” (not the Wikipedia version, nor Merriam Webster, both more suited to plants and animals) for purposes of this essay is that developed by aforementioned anthropologist José R. Martínez-Cobo. With this as my foundation, I will detail why Jews are indigenous to Israel, and why Palestinians are not.

Martinez-Cobo’s research suggests that indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing on those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal system.

The Jews of the Middle East are a persecuted indigenous minority.

There are two reasons why they are considered not to be so by most in the west.  The first reason has to do with the type of unacknowledged racism that makes up “progressive” political culture.  The second has to do with the misunderstanding between indigenous rights and what Bellerose calls “rights of longstanding presence.”  The Jewish people are the only people on the planet who can claim indigenous rights within the Land of Israel.  The Arabs, as the conquerors of the region thousands of years after the establishment of Israel as the Jewish national home, are not.

Most westerners and Arabs tend to look upon Israelis as “white” and, needless to say, white people are indigenous to Europe, thus, as deceased White House correspondent Helen Thomas would agree, they should return to Poland or Germany or, even, the United States.  Of course, by seeing Israel as a white European implant upon Arab soil, both Arabs and western progressives implicitly deny the fact that ancestors of about half of the Israelis never left the Middle East to begin with.  Ashkenazi Jews represent the traditional leadership of Israeli society, but non-European Mizrahi Jews are an exceedingly important part of that society and, yet, their presence is ignored by western progressives who claim to stand for indigenous rights.  The truth, of course, is that both Ashkenazi and Mizrahi are indigenous to the land of Israel, whereas Arabs, “Palestinian” or otherwise, are not.

Arabs are indigenous to Saudi Arabia.

We are denied indigenous status by white western progressives because progressivism, as a political movement, is the single most racist political movement in the west, today, outside of political Islam.  This makes it convenient for the Arab conquerors of the Jewish people to claim indigenous status although they only truly have “rights of longstanding presence.”

The real difference, of course, between the indigenous Jews of the Middle East and other conquered indigenous people, such as Bellerose’s people, is that the Jews of the Middle East were the first of all indigenous peoples to take back their homeland.  Israel is a miracle for any number of reasons.  It not only survived the efforts of the vast hostile Arab-Muslim majority to destroy it in its cradle, it has thrived despite such malicious ongoing efforts.  From any perspective – scientific, economic, or social – Israel transformed itself into a successful European-style democracy and did so under the kind of intense hostile circumstances that no western European country has had to endure since the end of World War II.

Bellerose concludes:

If conquerors can become indigenous, then the white Europeans who came to my indigenous lands in North America could now claim to be indigenous. The white Europeans who went to Australia and New Zealand could now claim to be indigenous. If we, even once, allow that argument to be made, indigenous rights are suddenly devalued and meaningless. This is somewhat peculiar, as those who are arguing for Palestinian “indigenous rights” are usually those who have little grasp of the history, and no understanding of the truth behind indigenous rights.

The Jewish claim to Jewish land is the claim of a persecuted indigenous people and is, thus, grounded within the kind of liberal ideology, prevalent in the west throughout the twentieth-century, that allegedly stands up for the rights of indigenous people all over the world.

Just as black people struggled for their rights, and basic human dignity, during the American Civil Rights Movement, so the Jews continue to struggle for our rights and basic human dignity within our 3,500 year old national home.  Just as native peoples everywhere seek to free themselves from the negative influence of hostile conquering populations, so the Jews of the Middle East seek to free themselves from the never-ending hostility of their former masters in that part of the world.

The so-called “Palestinian national movement” is not a national movement of an indigenous people.  It is a national movement designed specifically to overthrow the indigenous people and replace that people with the very people who conquered them and held them in something akin to servitude (dhimmitude) for thirteen long centuries.

Like indigenous peoples throughout the world, the Jewish people, too, are worthy of self-determination and self-defense.


Michael Lumish is the editor of Israel Thrives.

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  1. A popular claim amongst antisemites is that “the Jews” (by which they mean Ashkenazi Jews) aren’t Semites, because we aren’t really Jews, but Khazars or European converts. First, they fell gleefully upon Koestler’s book “The Thirteenth Tribe”, then upon the self-hating Jew Shlomo Sand’s book and lately, upon mitochondrial DNA studies which supposedly prove that most Ashkenazim are descended from 4 European women. I am encountering this claim more and more frequently of late. If we aren’t really Jews, they say, we can’t possibly claim to be indigenous to the Land of Israel.

    • Hi Shimona,

      one of the great things about the Jewish people is that we are among the only people on the entire planet that one can join through religious conversion.

      This is how inclusive the Jewish people are.

      Anyone can become a Jew via religious conversion. This makes the Jewish nation the most inclusive nation in the entire world. Any non-Jewish French admirer of Jewish culture and religion can convert and join the Jewish community.


      But no matter what I do I can never become French.

      My understanding of recent genetic studies shows that Ashkenazi Jews, such as myself, have a DNA footprint that goes to the Middle East.

      Nonetheless, it really does not matter one way or the other.

      The Jews are a people and we definitely should not get into creating racial divisions among us.

      Anyone who suggests that the Jews of the Pale of Settlement are not real Jews has zero understanding of what it means to be a Jew.

  2. Mike, you are spot on regarding recent genetic studies showing that Ashkenazi Jews, such as you and me, having a DNA footprint that goes to the Middle East. I have accounts of the studies.

    There was no such thing as intermarriage in the shtetls of Europe so the bloodlines are pure. That’s the reason behind so much research into the subject now, before they are diluted. It is possible to tell if a person is a Cohen or Levite in many cases from the blood.

    I have the oral history of my paternal grandmother back to Spain and of how three brothers walked, via Turkey, to the Ukraine. I also have their names. This pretty much proves the ME connection anyway, because it’s a given that Spanish Jews came from eretz Israel.

    Traditionally it is thought that Nebuchadnezzar transported Jews to Spain to serve as slaves. They Jews were Kohanim, as well as members of the royal house of David. The Bene Israel Jews are also Kohanim.

    • It is quite likely, however, that early Jewish migrants to Europe (such as to Rome, for example, where we know there was a large Jewish community as early as the first century CE) intermarried with local women(who converted), which could explain the presence of European mitochondrial DNA in Ashkenazi Jews. The Empress Poppaea, wife of Nero, is also said to have converted – although I suspect this might have been a matter of fashion, akin to the current Hollywood passion for Kabbalah (Poppaea being the Roman equivalent of Madonna).
      There is also evidence of a Jewish community in Germany in the 3rd or 4th century CE. At any rate, since this has now become one of the “hot” subjects for antisemites, I have started to collect sources on the subject. No doubt my research will produce an article, either here or on my own blog.

  3. Any excuse to deny my being a Jew. All these so called “correct “quasi intellectuals of the world coming up with new & revised fairy tale history. Makes me think we live in the world of the lotus eaters.

  4. The Land of Israel is such a tiny, little part of the world.

    But it is our home.

    It is the home of the Jewish people, wherever we may live, and we must not allow the international community and the Arabs to take it away from us.

    On the contrary, Israel should claim sovereignty over the Temple Mount immediately because the Waqf has shown itself to be entirely irresponsible in its treatment of historical artifacts.

    What was Dayan thinking, anyways?

    • It pains me to speak ill of the dead, but Dayan himself had rather a cavalier attitude towards the treatment of historical artefacts – although not it quite the same way as the Waqf. Dayan had a tendency to appropriate them for himself.

      • What I am wondering about is Dayan’s decision to hand over the Temple Mount to the Waqf?

        I presume that it has something to do with the fact that the rabbinate opposes a Jewish presence at the Holy of Holies for religious reasons.

        But if that is the case, it is probably the biggest mistake that Dayan ever made.

        It needs to be corrected, in my opinion.

  5. I have a whole other take on that. as far as I am aware, that was part of the peace deal with Jordan. Arabs take care of it and we are allowed to pray there. Though in light of this we need to think again.

    Exposed: Waqf Illegally Drilling on Temple Mount
    Temple Mount activist catches Waqf officials vandalizing Judaism’s holiest site.

    “Muslim worshippers don’t just have more freedom to pray on the Temple Mount, a recent investigation reveals: they apparently also have permission to drill. An investigation Monday by Yehuda Glick, Director of the Haliba organization for Jewish freedom on the Temple Mount, caught Waqf officials red-handed in the act of drilling through the ancient stones. Vandalizing the Mount – Judaism’s holiest site and a national landmark for people of all religions – violates the law; when caught in the act on film, the perpetrators quickly tried to conceal their actions.”

  6. I found this. It appears the Mount was handed to the Waqf in 1967, though there is no explanation as to why.

  7. “Although freedom of access was enshrined in the law, as a security measure, the Israeli government currently enforces a ban on non-Muslim prayer on the site. Non-Muslims who are observed praying on the site are subject to expulsion by the police.”

  8. Re: Jewish access and prayer on the Temple Mount – the Police prevents Jewish prayer there so as not to provoke the Muslims and to prevent riots. In short, they’ve given a “hecklers’ veto” to the Muslims. It’s easier to stop Jews praying there than to use the force required to put a stop to Muslim violence. One of the reasons they are afraid is the results of previous riots on the Temple Mount, where the Police used live ammunition, resulting in deaths (this is linked also to the 2000 Intifada, when Israeli Arabs were also killed). The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that Jews have the right of access, but that the Police are allowed to restrict “provocative” behaviour, for the protection of public safety. That’s why I say the Muslims have a “Heckler’s veto” – by threatening public safety, they can cause the Police to prevent Jews from enjoying their rights. The Police have also taken the easy way out when it comes to the clashes between the Women of the Wall and the ultra-orthodox who oppose them. I have written about both subjects quite frequently on my own blog.

  9. I also grow tired of people claiming Jews are european when we are not. I have had people tell me Jews come from east Europe,the khazars, edomites, that we are a religion, that we are liars, then when our own people claim to be European, those nations say we are foreigners and always have treated us as foreign. Jews in France are being persecuted by Muslims and told to leave, leave where if we are so european? I’m tired of people making a determination of what we are and treating as as literally the wandering jew. I have had DNA tests and I am a j1c3 paternally, my dad looks middle eastern, our language is Hebrew, and our last name is of Hebrew origin. We never converted, we descend from the Levite’s and our history is from the Levant and mesopotamia. A African may be born in america, speak english, adapt a British last name from slavery, but they will always have African heritage just like the majority of jews will always have middle Eastern ancestry no matter where we have lived. DNA doesn’t lie.