May 26, 2008

Indian country = Zion

Newcomb:  American ZionismBush also spoke explicitly of an alliance and a friendship between Israel and the United States rooted in the Bible. The source of the link between the two countries, he said, "is grounded in the shared spirit of our people, the bonds of the Book, the ties of the soul." Then, weaving a bit of American history into the mix, Bush told his audience: "When William Bradford stepped off the Mayflower in 1620, he quoted the words of [the Hebrew prophet] Jeremiah 51:10: 'Come let us declare in Zion the word of God."'

According to Bush, "The founders of my country saw a new promised land and bestowed upon their towns names like Bethlehem and New Canaan. And in time, many Americans became passionate advocates for a Jewish state." American Indian lands, in other words, were viewed by the founders of the United States as a new Land of Canaan, a promised inheritance and everlasting possession.

Although there may be those orthodox Jews who would not concur with Bush's characterization of the Old Testament, his speech illustrates the kind of thinking that has played such a prominent role in the historic mistreatment of American Indians by the United States, and in the callous and often brutal mistreatment of Palestinian people by the state of Israel. The mental model of a chosen people and a promised land provides a convenient rationalization whereby one people feels entitled and justified, by divine right, to take over, possess, and profit from the lands of other peoples.
And:By using Bradford's quote of Jeremiah, Bush was making a metaphorical connection between the United States and Israel, but also between Zion and the lands of the indigenous nations of North America. Bradford used the Old Testament quote of Jeremiah to project the concept of Zion onto the lands of the indigenous nations in North America. Clearly, this is an American version of Zionism.Comment:  For more on the subject, see The Indian-Palestinian Connection and A Shining City on a Hill:  What Americans Believe.


dmarks said...

More like Indian reservation = Zion. Israel faces a situation where most of its neighbors deny its people the right to even exist, and several outright call on or support genocide (such as the Palestinian government and Iran).

Those who object to the Israeli's right to exist skirt with code-word antisemitism. It is easy for Ward Churchill, who is already antisemitic anyway.

Rob said...

And yet, Israel is illegally occupying foreign territory much like the US did. Which is why many people dislike it. And why many have noted the connection between Indians and Palestinians.

dmarks said...

The hatred of Jews ("dislike") pre-dated Israeli's occupation of these territories, and the occupation in itself was forced by the invasions which came from these territories.

I don't recall Native governments routinely calling for genocide again whites, as the Palestinian government usually (and currently) demands for Israeli Jews for most of its existence.

Rob said...

Are you seriously arguing that the Six-Day War in 1967 has "forced" Israel to occupy foreign territory ever since? Did America's wars with Mexico or its Indian nations "force" it to occupy the western half of the continent against its will? Ridiculous.

Your assertion would be news to the world's leading powers, since they voted unanimously for UN Security Council Resolution 242 in 1967. That resolution is still the definitive statement of principles in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

If you've forgotten what it said, the details are below. The resolution calls for:

(i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;

(ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.

Rob said...

As for recognizing Israel, the issue isn't as simple as you apparently think. Here's a good article on the subject:

To demand that Palestinians recognize "Israel's right to exist" is to demand that a people who have been treated as subhumans unworthy of basic human rights publicly proclaim that they are subhumans. It would imply Palestinians' acceptance that they deserve what has been done and continues to be done to them. Even 19th-century US governments did not require the surviving native Americans to publicly proclaim the "rightness" of their ethnic cleansing by European colonists as a condition precedent to even discussing what sort of land reservation they might receive. Nor did native Americans have to live under economic blockade and threat of starvation until they shed whatever pride they had left and conceded the point.

Some believe that Yasser Arafat did concede the point in order to buy his ticket out of the wilderness of demonization and earn the right to be lectured directly by the Americans. But in fact, in his famous 1988 statement in Stockholm, he accepted "Israel's right to exist in peace and security." This language, significantly, addresses the conditions of existence of a state which, as a matter of fact, exists. It does not address the existential question of the "rightness" of the dispossession and dispersal of the Palestinian people from their homeland to make way for another people coming from abroad.

The original conception of the phrase "Israel's right to exist" and of its use as an excuse for not talking with any Palestinian leaders who still stood up for the rights of their people are attributed to former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. It is highly likely that those countries that still employ this phrase do so in full awareness of what it entails, morally and psychologically, for the Palestinian people.