Palestinians and Native Americans: The Inherent Struggle for Freedom and Justice


Few can be as blunt regarding the legacy of the United States toward the native people of this land as the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt. In his narrative, "The Winning of the West," Roosevelt spoke about the "spread of the English-speaking peoples over the world's wasted spaces." He wrote: "The European settlers moved into an uninhabited waste...the land is really owned by no one.... The settler ousts no one from the land. The truth is, the Indians never had any real title to the soil."

In an interview with the British Sunday Times, on June 15, 1969, former Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir made similar claims, stating, "There was no such thing as Palestinians. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country from them. They did not exist."

While Native Americans and Palestinians were the ancient indigenous peoples of their lands, this was of little or no relevance to the foreign settlers. What really mattered was "Manifest Destiny", what really mattered was "Zionism".

Roosevelt goes on: "The world would probably not have gone forward at all, had it not been for the displacement or submersion of savage and barbaric peoples as a consequence of the armed settlement in strange lands of the races who hold in their hands the fate of the years."

In the mid forties, David Ben-Gurion declared that Israel is adopting a system of "aggressive defense. With every Arab attack we must respond with a decisive blow: the destruction of the place or the expulsion of the residents along with the seizure of the place." 

My grandparents, mother and father, along with nearly one million people were expelled from their land after the brutal destruction of 418 villages and towns, and the murder of thousands of Palestinians. They spread in all directions, mostly on foot to clear space for the Chosen People. They settled in refugee camps, concentration camps, which are still in existence until today. My grandparents along with my mother and my older brother are buried in one of those camps. My farther and my brothers are still living there. 

Ben Gurion retired in 1963, four years before Israel invaded the rest of Palestine, the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. It created another tragedy, another dispossession, all with the hope that the state of Israel can become purely Jewish. Israel defied international law that called for the right of return for Palestinians refugees. Instead, it instituted its own law, shortly after its establishment in 1948, issuing the right of return for Jews only. Any one of Jewish race, anywhere in the world was and is still allowed to come to Palestine, granted citizenship, to live free of charge on a land that is not his, in a place where he does not belong.

Amid this savagery, land grabbing and dehumanization of the victims, both the United States and Israel have managed to convince themselves that the way they treated their victims was in fact humane and civilized. "No other conquering or colonizing nation has ever treated savage owners of the soil with such generosity as has the United States," Roosevelt said.

But General Didi, from the Israeli army begs to differ. He oversaw the historic invasion of Jenin last year.

On April 02, 2002, Israel attacked the camp for two weeks amid complete silence of the international community. For two weeks, hundreds of Israeli tanks, US-apache helicopters, F15 and F16 warplanes and thousands of soldiers brutalized and terrorized the 13,000 inhabitants of the camp living on just one square kilometer or land. The people of the camp fought as much as homemade explosives, kitchen knives and a few bullets could take them. They fought and refused to give up since they new that this defeat would be their last. By the end of the invasion, scores of Palestinian bodies were left to decompose in the streets of Jenin as the Israelis refused to allow access to the Red Cross to evacuate the dead. The entire population of the camp was forced to evacuate, and nearly 2,000 homes were destroyed and severely damaged by Israeli army tanks, bulldozers and air bombardment. .

This is what an Israeli army bulldozer driver, who is known as "Kurdi Bear" said in his testimony, of what took place in the camp as he narrated to the Israeli newspaper Yidiot Ahronot:

"Many people were inside the houses we started to demolish. They would come out of the houses while we where working on them. I found joy with every house that came down, because I knew they didn't mind dying, but they cared for their homes. If you knocked down a house, you bury 40 or 50 people for generations. If I am sorry for anything, it is for not tearing the whole camp down. This is the way I thought in Jenin. I didn't give a damn. If I had been given three weeks, I would have had more fun. That is, if they would let me tear the whole camp down. I have no mercy."

Let me refresh your memory with what Roosevelt had said about the conduct of his armies. "No other conquering or colonizing nation has ever treated savage owners of the soil with such generosity as has the United States." 

Roosevelt's words echoed, just a few months ago, by the Israeli army Jenin commander, General Didi.

The Israeli army has behaved as "as the most moral army in the world and the most careful army in the world."

Please allow me to shift the course of my thoughts to finish with these great words from the 1927 Grand Council of American Indians:

"We want freedom from the white man rather than to be integrated. We don't want any part of the establishment, we want to be free to raise our children in our religion, in our ways, to be able to hunt and fish and live in peace. We want to be ourselves. We want to have our heritage, because we are the owners of this land and because we belong here.

"The white man says, there is freedom and justice for all. We have had their "freedom and justice," and that is why we have been almost exterminated. We shall not forget this."

Similar are the sentiments of Abdelrazik Abu al-Hayjah, the Palestinian Administrator of the Jenin refugee camp, who concluded his testimony for the book "Searching Jenin":

"If they will destroy the camp many times, the people of Jenin will rebuild it, because with every time the peoples' courage and determination intensify. The more Israel brutalizes Palestinians, the stronger their resistance shall be. Israel cannot resolve its problems by force. They have to understand that Palestinians' quest for freedom cannot be stopped. Its only human nature for people to resist, to regain their freedom.

"The people of Jenin do not hate Israelis because their names are different, or because their language is different. Nor do they hate them because they have anything against the Jewish religion, but because they are occupiers, and as long as they are occupiers, the resistance will go on. The Palestinian resistance shall live as long as the occupation lives."

*Ramzy Baroud is the editor-in-chief of PalestineChronicle.com and the editor of the anthology "Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion 2002."


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  19 Comments   Comment

  1. Abdul Qayyum Raja from Pakistan

    The only thing muslim of word can do, is to bycott Amarcan & Jews products. The muslim organisations & political parties in the word can do it, and request the muslim peoples in the world.

  2. Rawhi Beituni from USA

    Thank you for all your efforts, and support for oppressed people all over the world. Please add a link to allow readers to forward your articles to government officials, and others, without cut and paste.

    Sincerely,

    Rawhi Beituni

  3. Dino Demars from The Levant

    I think that Amin's comment in 9564 really sums up the Palestinian conflict:

    It's not the "Arabs" claiming Palestine but the owners.

    It's really that simple, or at least, it should be. I think this is a fact that has to be hammered into the heads of all Westerners. Get rid of all talk of religion, and get down to the basics of the situation.

    To add to the population numbers being thrown around, here's one that I've always found really interesting: the total number of Jewish people on earth is 'a little more than 13 million' (source:

    http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/Judaism/jewpop.html).

    Just another number to toss into the mix.

  4. Zaki from Malaysia

    John, John. It seems to me you're diverting the argument by using statistics to legitimise your points. What's the use? What relevance does your "logic" has to do with what's going in the Middle East?

    People are suffering. The time has come to stop using history to justify anything that's going on and focus on the NOW. NOW is the time to fight for peace. History should only be considered as a lesson to us all and not as "land claims".

  5. Charles Jacks from USA

    Oh John just so you don't think you have me pegged. I am not a Muslim in the way you think of it. The word Muslim means "a person that has submitted their will to God" so you can be a Jewish Muslim, Christian Muslim or even a Buddhist Muslim (ZaZen). The (if you will forgive my use of the term) Mohammidean Muslims know that only a small percentage of the prophets are mentioned in the semitic holy books (the ratio is about 20000/1 unknown/known) so the Buddah may have been a Muslim. Religions tend to degrade after the prophet dies which makes it hard to tell. What am I getting at? My profession of faith isn't "There is not God but God and Mohammad is a prophet of God". I have no problem saying that however as I consider it to be true. Nor do I mind praying along side them, enjoy it even. I believe they are the new chosen people but hate the term, too racist. My profession of faith is "There is no God but the Creator and nothing else worthy of worship, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself and Thy shalt garden God's creation" The first phrase translated into Arabic with the word "Allah" instead of Al-Khaliq is an verse from the Quran. Translate it into Aramaic and it essentially came out of Jesus' mouth. So am I a Muslim, I guess that depends on how religiously racist the judge is. I understand why the mentioning of the prophet is included but prefer that my religious commandments are my profession of faith. In the end they are anyway. Or at least how well I carry them out. Too much religious discrimination has cost the Muslims dearly. They consider the Bible to have been redacted but shouldn't reject it outright. They are tasked with bringing the Christians back into monotheism and that is best done from the viewpoint of God and Jesus. If they would put some effort into it things would start to clear up.

    So are you mossad or igune? I like the term "peacemaker" myself. Not that many people would recognize the reference (or profession of faith). Try hard. LOL!

  6. Charles Jacks from USA

    Good grief John read my response in message 9545. Or is it that you read it and just want to have some fun. But if you want to know a little about me (for your records LOL) I have red, white, yellow, tan and black skin depending on where you look and in what light. (sorry I have been known to scare children so no pictures please) If you are a "single drop of blood" racist then I am a member of no race, but if you are inclusive then I am a member of all races) The first church I went to had an average attendance less than the average age but it got blown up by some white racists one year. "Humm you say, church" but I seem to be defending the Muslims. Yep church, baptism and all On the other hand there is that thing I say "There is no God but God and Mohammid is a prophet of God". Seems I read the Bible and noticed Jesus indicated there would be a new chosen people, "the rock that was discarded" Humm who could that be? Now Abraham had two children and God called upon him to slay his first born but stayed his knife, after that his wife called upon him to discard his first born. Abraham took him to the area around Meca and thats where the child grew up. (Kind of like a reserve set of monotheists in case the first set didn't work out.) But Jesus also said that since his time was being cut short that he would pray for God to send the holy spirit (The angle Gabrel) to another human and that human would speak what was spoken to him. Who could that be? Another prophet! Humm, the Jews had screwed up and the Christians had become polytheists so who was producing the fruit of religion? Muslims! Tritheism is a stepping stone between the pagan polytheists and the monotheist and if people pay attention they notice Jesus was a Jew and taught monotheism. Tritheism leads to some horrific blasphemies so I concluded God has set up a test. Most people get hung up on the religious discrimination (Jew, Christian, Buddahist) and miss it, but if you think monotheism it pops rith out.

  7. Michael Dowling from United States

    Any country in existence today is there because of war, imperialism. It may be a sad fact but everyone on this board do a little research into the country you're presently living in. You'll find some horrible attrocities committed by your previous countrymen. No nation is rightgeous before God. Because they're run men who are too easy to corrupt. It is a fact that the Middle East becasme an Islamic Emprire through war. Just like Europe became a Christian one by the sword. I think Israelis have a somewhat legitimate claim to some of the land of present day Israel. But I also agree the Palestinians have a right to not want to give it to them. So there in lies the problem. But all of this your country is evil mine is rightgeous nonsense is exactly that. It sounds like a bunch of people in glass houses throwing stones.

  8. john norman from uk

    Charles Jacks: From your comment "Given my background...", I would guess that you are Native American. As you must know from recent findings and studies, even Native Americans have been guilty of the genocide and seizing the lands of the peoples who lived on the American Continent before the arrival of your ancestors from Asia. So let's not pull the "moral high-ground" one here too hastily.

    You sound a wee bit arrogant to me. Unable to come up with an argument to back up your assertion that Muslims form 1/2 of the world's poulation, you casually dismiss a billion Chinese and 800 million Hindus from the equation. They don't exist, you say. I'm sure they would like to hear from you. What other facts are you unsure about?

    All the best

    John

  9. Amin from USA

    Mr. Norman

    As for the Palestinians there is some Roman blood and Greek blood in the modern Palestinians, as well as Arab. They are still for the most part Aramaic, or Syri'an, or Canaanite or philistine or Phoenician. These languages, however, ceased being the language of the educated even though they persisted in great numbers even into the last century. The ba'ath movement is really what destroyed these lang/cultures not Islam. In fact the religion was not forced in the Muslim ruled countries on the Christian and Jews there. The majority of the population during the Crusades were still Christian. In these Aramaic areas the fact is that the Majority remained Eastern Christian until into the 14th century, directly after the Crusades. The largest number of conversions occurred during this time of indiscriminate slaughter by racist European Christians. Yes the "Arabs" ruled a "colony" and many locals had converted, but the Arabs accepted the local peoples "racially" as acceptable for marriage both for wives and in allowing their children to marry them. The Arabs were incredible egalitarian with allowing marriage between anyone of the faith and many also taking Christian wives. As for the Jews a large group has remained in Iran to this day relatively unmoved for 2300 years. The Islamic rulers, Colonists in the middle east? Not to my ears.

    Before "Arab Nationalism" in current Arab nations ethnicity and language weren't usually particularly important except by educated and the upper crust, who originally were exclusively "Arab". Great men like Saladin, a "Kurd" led these Islamic people in the Crusades.

    What is an Arab? Is it the same this century as it was last century? It doesn't seem so. It seems the definition changes every year. Is someone whose great grandparents spoke Aramaic but whose grandparents and parents were educated in Arabic an Arab? There are many. It is not an easy question to answer. It's not the "Arabs" claiming Palestine but the owners.

  10. amin from USA

    Mr. Norman

    You would be correct about me referring to Yiddish if I said "Modern Hebrew is a language that combines Eastern European Syntax, Grammar, and vocabulary with Hebrew" I didn't say vocabulary. This is the prime difference between Yiddish and Hebrew. Let us talk about the Jewish settlement of Israel in terms of language. The vast majority of the Jewish Settlers to Israel (Palestine) were not from any one language, coming from England, Germany, Poland and Russia. Most came from the last three. What they did have in common was that many of them could read and write Hebrew, but not understand what they were reading, with the exception of a small educated elite. This elite convinced the people that they should revive the Hebrew language. The Grammar is somewhat Hebrew but since no one had spoken it in conversation for so long and no one was fluent in speaking or could really "think" in the language, then those who tried to recreate the language used the only Grammatical format and word order that they knew: Eastern European grammar. The vocabulary is absolutely pure and it was easy for eastern Europeans because of the cognates with Yiddish.

    Hebrew had been on life support since the return from the Babylonian captivity. It is accepted by most scholars that Jews at the time of Jesus spoke Aramaic (the language of the philistines) but he was from the northern part of the country in Galilee According to the Old Testament the Jews from the south Kingdom who returned found the land reoccupied by the Canaanites and philistines. They re-entered the land with Persian help, (many believe the Persians sympathized with the Jews because both were monotheists many believe it was because the Jews spied for them). Before this point (500BC) there is little to no Hebrew literature or proof that the classical language we call Hebrew existed as we know it. Almost all the ancient texts were destroyed with the destruction of the first temple.

  11. Charles Jacks from USA

    Given my background the Euro-American concept of "owning" the land is a little freaky.

    But given that a human can "own" a part of God's creation then it can be stolen as well. Stealing by definition is taking something from someone without their permission. Given the generally agreed upon concept that a land is owned by the people that live upon it then Palestine was clearly stolen from the people that were living upon it in the 1930's just as the Americas and Australia was stolen from its inhabitants by the invaders. Present international law does not recognize the right to "take by conquering". Thankfully that barbarism was declared at odds to humanities best interest by the UN and all of its signatories.

    Or was it? Some would say that the U's (US, EU, UN) only enforce that when it is in their own assumed interest. Observing the negotiation over the first UN resolution on Iraq the sudden shift of France and Russia seemed to coincide with the US promise to give them a cut of the Iraqi oil. One wonders if the invasion of Iraq is for the benefit of humanity or just the U's.

    It should be simple to tell. If the invasion occurs, will the Iraqi people get to decide on the disbursement of THEIR oil? Will the U's pay to rebuild their infrastructure as partial payment for the benefit they gain from the use of the oil the Iraqis allow them to have? Or will it be just another example of U's taking by conquering?

    Some people wonder if the "international collation" that will invade will again depend on the US's negotiations over the "division of the spoils" I didn't realize the US had the right to determine how the "freed" Iraqi people would apportion their property. On the other hand, if the U's don't get to take the oil they will probably hand the Iraqis a big bill for "freeing" them from their oppressors. Which oddly enough just happens to be the U's. Is this any way to run a world?

  12. Charles Jacks from USA

    Well John you do the math. If about of the world is Muslim and a little over is Christian that comes out to a little over . Add in the Jews, Drues and a few others and it is still approximately . Fractions like 345/620 detract from the discussion. And the land has been holy to many stretching back to the time of Abraham from which the racial groups known as the Jews and Arabs descended. Though is is believed that even Noah came from that area and some believe Adam as well. Tower of babel - not too far from there at least compared to where I am sitting at the moment. So I think I was correct for the very reasons you pointed out. Next time, sit back and take a deep breath. We have a saying where I come from, better to be quite and be thought a fool that to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

    You see I subscribe to the One Creator, One Religion, Many Prophets theory and try to take everyone into account in the accounting. I know I can be a tough read at times but if you look back you may find that that generally occurs when pointing out facts. Facts are facts and some people don't like that fact. I also subscribe to another theory: the world and its Creator is concerned when people beat their heads against the wall but will wait patiently for them to learn not to. This is a test & evaluation (T&E) existence and part of the T&E is to see whether they will or won't

    Being human I like to point it out to them that they are being suboptimal, hopefully before they permanently addle themselves. Sadly much of the worlds violence (at least in the middle east) comes from Jews and Christians who are clueless as to their religion and responsibilities. Worse they will blithely attack the very people they should be thanking for saving them from themselves.

    Remember T&E - better to be thought a fool than to remove all doubt.

  13. john norman from uk

    Amin: You are confusing Modern Hebrew with Yiddish two quite distinct languages. Yiddish in Israel is very much a minority language spoken by a relatively small number of ultra-orthodox religious Jews.

    The Arabs, I repeat, are the interlopers in the area of "Palestine" who conquered the land, colonised it and then, over a few hundred years, imposed their language anfd culture on the native inhabitants, a mixture of Jews, Greeks and others.

    |Isn't it about time that the Arabs grew upand faced up to the legacy of Arab imperialism?

  14. Syed from Canada

    John,

    Correct your self.

    Bani Israel, were outsiders to Palastine, they came to Palastine with Musa after crossing River Neil (Egypt), after Allah save them from Pheroan. Where as the Palastanians were the native people who were pagans at that time and were inhabited the lands well before Bani Israelies.

    I suggest you do some homework before posting any comments here

  15. Amin from USA

    Mr. Norman...

    Once again you use unhistorical fantasy pass it off as fact.

    Don't even try to pull language into this. Modern Hebrew is the mixed child of Russian and German with a hametic/slavic grammar structure and a forced Hebrew vocabulary.

    Secondly true Hebrew is closely related to both Arabic and Aramaic. The current Jews are wanna be 50% European invaders, who genetically have far less claim than the original Jews after years of after years of being "tainted" by European blood. Now that this is clear lets make another point.

    The "Arabs" of "palestine" are not in fact arabs nor "invaders and plunders"

    There are only two possibilities. But there is no evidence that the "Arabs" wiped out the population of "palestine" in the 7th century rather, they came they occupied, inter married and spread their faith. Over time the Arabic language of the Quaran combined with the local version of Aramaic producing the modern Palestinian spoken Arabic Dialect. The true inhabitants of palestine/Israel are this combination the ones that held real titles to now stolen lands. Canaanites and Arabs in the modern holy land are indistinguishable because of blood and language melding into one people. In addition the word Palestine comes from the word Filistine the name of the local non Jewish people in the book of Judges in the bible. The Romans changed the name to Palestine as they called the Phonici wars to the Punici wars because the used the Greek word and always pronounsed the old greek bilabial fricitive as a p.

    The Romans gave this land the name Palestine for two reasons. Many of the inhabitants (the ancestors of the modern palestinians)of the land were of this group living near and with the Jews. Second it was too Anger the Jews who hated the Philistini. Judaism -sorry to disabuse you - appears - in the form of written historical proof is some 2500 to 3000 years old. It is far out dated by Zoroastrians and Anchnaten in monotheism.

  16. john norman from uk

    Charles Jacks: Muslims form one quarter of the world's population and not one half. Perhaps you haven't noticed the 1 billion Chinese and the 800 million Hindus, not to speak of the 1 billion Christians. Further, the Holy Land, made Holy by Judaism in the first instance, has only been holy to muslims for some 1400 years, not thousands of years. It has been holy to Jews for some 4500 years.

  17. Wolfgang K. from Germany

    Shalom,

    An excellent article. Mr. Jacks, your post was a very astute analysis, one which needs to be propogated. Mr. Norman ofcourse has as usual much too say but all without merit or any logic.

  18. Charles Jacks from USA

    The depths of self delusion in Israel is hard to fathom. To think that anyone would believe the land holy to nearly one half of the worlds population for thousands of years was "a land without a people"is difficult. That it is part of the motto of a country of millions is a frightening commentary on humanities capability for self delusion. On the other hand it may be that they just think the rest of the world is one collective ignoramus and would not notice the ethnic cleaning of the Holy Land of its native population. Given the number of people involved it is most likely a mixture of both.

    Jesus indicated the temple would be torn down and the third exile of the Jews from the Holy Land would occur due to their corruption. Matthew 21:33-45. Quran 16:111-113 The Quran indicates the exile was conditional (you look it up) but the manner in which they have obtained dominance over the Holy Land indicates they have not met the conditions. What the Christians and the Jews need to realize is that the start of Armageddon with the building of the third temple is not an indication of the Creators pleasure with them but just the opposite. That they would defile God's justice, graciousness and mercy with support of corruption, and the oppression of the new chosen people is an indication of how little they know of their responsibilities and their religion. Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal. Love your neighbor as yourself. A continent of slavery, three of ethnic cleaning and now the attempt to ethnicly clean the holy land and fertile crescent. I thank God I was intelligent enough to figure out this test long ago. The question in my mind is would they, even it you laid it out for them? Those that abandon reason become treats for the tricksters. Study hard, there is a test at the end of this life. Good luck.

  19. john norman from uk

    Another false analogy from Ramzy Baroud. The original inhabitants were not Palestinian Arabs but Canaanites and others who were closely related linguistically to the Hebrews. In other words, the "Indians/Native Americans" of the land of Canaan were Hebrews, Jews, B'nei Israel, Yahudis etc... The Palestinian Arabs are late comers to the scene arriving as conquerors, eager for spoil and booty. Don't kid yourselves, the real imperialists and colonissers are the Arabs and Muslims. Islam did not appear until the 7th century. Judaism -sorry to disabuse you - appears - and in one form or another is some 4500 years old.