Debate Magazine

Bellerose Has Some Words

Posted on the 14 January 2014 by Mikelumish @IsraelThrives
Michael L.

{Cross-posted at Jews Down Under.}

Bellerose Has Some WordsI find the recent dust-up with our friend Ryan Bellerose to be instructive.
Bellerose took exception to a comment by Trudy suggesting that the very notion of "indigenous" is nonsense.  I am actually not heavily invested in that word, but the Jews have as much right to what I am calling "indigenous status" as pretty much anyone else on the planet.  Stuart endeavors to strip the Jews of indigenous status based upon anthropologist José R. Martínez-Cobo's definition of indigenous people, cited by Bellerose in his original article published at Israelycool.
Stuart writes the following:
Bellerose does, however, in his analysis, conveniently skip one of the requirements in Martinez Cobo's definition of indigenous people. 
•  Common ancestry with the original occupants of these lands. 
According to Stuart, because the Jews cannot claim to be the original occupants of Jewish land they are not actually "indigenous."  3,500 years of residency on Jewish land is apparently not sufficient for the Jews to make any such claims.
Nonetheless, this is Bellerose's recent comment which I am highlighting because I think that it needs discussion and because the Jewish people, as a tiny minority in the world, need to reach out to potential allies wherever we may find them.
Bellerose writes this:
A few things
Being indigenous isnt just about where you are physically from, its about the Genesis of culture and ancestral ties to the land as well. Thats why Jews and Metis are absolutely indigenous peoples to our respective regions. the " we all came from africa" argument is used by ignorant people to counter indigenous rights, because after all if we all came from the same place the nobody is indigenous. if you cant see how damaging that is, then I am not the one who needs to study.
I refute the Paestinians claim to be indigenous because it harms our rights, to allow a conqueror to claim that they can become indigenous THROUGH conquest, means my people have to accept the same for those who conquered north america.
You are relatively new with this, so let me explain something, most people dont know this stuff, lots of them thing the middle easy is where arabs are from, they think jews are white because some of you have pale skin, they dont understand what white privilege is. They have no idea that assimilation is like death to an indigenous person because it results in the loss of who we are.
I don't know empress trudy and maybe she isnt the asshat she appeared to be, but her first post started off stupid and it didnt get any better from there. 
she wrote
"Keeping in mind of course that this whole 'indigenous' nonsense" is an outgrowth of two things. 1) the 60's ethos that primitivism is inherently good and anything else is inherently evil. And 2) it's really a racist expression of "The White Man's Burden."
Im not sure how you could possibly think an indigenous rights activist who has been fighting for his peoples rights for 2 decades wouldnt get offended at such a moronic statement " indigenous nonsense"? really?
secondly indigenous rights have nothing to do with primitivism, we want to maintain our culture and our traditions and have self determination on our ancestral lands. sound familiar? a little bit like zionism maybe? we arent advocating wearing loincloths and living in teepees again ffs.
"Both of them are racist patronizing expressions that brown people or what we call brown people this moment (and that can change) are not the genuine stewards of their own destiny and they have to be protected from De Evul White Mon on their little reservations and ghettos; like Potemkin villages where the rich white liberals gawk at them like zoo animals. It's about how WE feel about US. Not them."
people who dont live in ghettos or reserves should probably not talk about them, that little paragraph is exceptionally offensive. Maybe she was being sarcastic, but the rest of the post makes me wonder if thats the case. 
then she wrote "Because be clear 'indigenous' has nothing to do with point of origin. It's about a myth or who's genuine and who's not." 
Indigenous rights are not a myth, there is nothing arbitrary about them, they come from a very specific set of guidelines, you wonder why I become bellicose so easily, try making this argument for 2 decades with no support and see how patient you are when people say something stupid.
I do not know that everyone will find this exercise interesting, but I find it so.
Bellerose writes:
Being indigenous isnt just about where you are physically from, its about the Genesis of culture and ancestral ties to the land as well. 
 Bellerose has respect for his own people.
Against all odds, he is willing to stand up for his people.  And, indeed, "indigenous" is not merely about who got there first.  It is about the long-standing history and culture of peoples and while such peoples obviously include Native-Americans, or Native-Australians, for that matter, they also include the Jewish natives of the Middle East.
I refute the Paestinians claim to be indigenous because it harms our rights, to allow a conqueror to claim that they can become indigenous THROUGH conquest...
This is the key to Bellerose's argument.
It highlights a difference between Native-Americans and the native Jewish population in the Land of Israel because, if the Bible is any clue, the Jews did, in fact, conquer that land from the Canaanites many thousands of years ago.
Im not sure how you could possibly think an indigenous rights activist who has been fighting for his peoples rights for 2 decades wouldnt get offended at such a moronic statement " indigenous nonsense"? really?
I think that we can forgive the grammar given the fact that this was part of a comment, not an article meant for publication.   What I care about is the idea, not the punctuation, and I believe that Bellerose is correct.
It is offensive to tell Native-American activists that the concept of indigenous is nonsense.  Just as we want people to respect the Jewish presence on historically Jewish land, so we need to respect, and reach out towards, other peoples who are also fighting for their indigenous rights.  The obvious difference, of course, is that the Jewish people took back our homeland, while Native-Americans, and other indigenous peoples, are fighting for their claims and their rights and their culture.
We have to understand that, as Jews, we are exceedingly lucky because the previous generations in the twentieth-century fought to secure our heritage and our historic homeland.  People like Ben Gurion and Dayan and Begin and Meir and, yes, Sharon, fought like hell to secure a Jewish place in this world on the land that the Jewish people came from.  I am proud that after 2,000 years of exile they were able to do so and I am also pleased that Native-American Zionist football players, like Mr. Bellerose, are willing to stand up for us.
But this can only mean that we have to stand up for him.

We have to stand up for the rights of all indigenous peoples.
We have to also stand up for the rights of women and Gay people and non-Muslims throughout the Arab-Muslim world as a matter of universal human rights.  The reason that Bellerose is important is because as part of an historically persecuted minority he is reaching out to the Jewish people, who are also an historically persecuted minority.
Let us be sure to keep that in mind.
secondly indigenous rights have nothing to do with primitivism, we want to maintain our culture and our traditions and have self determination on our ancestral lands. sound familiar? a little bit like zionism maybe?
Indeed, indigenous rights have nothing to do with primitivism.
Oldschooltwentysix pointed this out, as well, and I agree, as I suspect would Trudy.
No one here suggested that Native-Americans are "primitive," whatever we mean by that, exactly.
The suggestion, if I am interpreting Trudy correctly, is that the western-left continues to mischaracterize native peoples in romantic terms.  As a critic of the western-left, or the progressive-left, I can tell you with certainty that the prominent view of native peoples, with the exception of the Jews, is romanticized and demeaning and infused with notions of the "noble savage" within progressive-left political discourse.
Perhaps that is changing over time, but if anyone does not fit the stereotype it is Bellerose.

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