Photo Credit:

“When G-d began to create heaven and earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

“Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, at the terebinth of Moreh. the Canaanites were then the land. The L-rd appeared to Abram and said, “I will assign this land to your offspring”. And he built an altar there to the L-rd who had appeared to him.” (Genesis 12:6-7) – JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh

When it comes to serious Jewish matters, I have zero patience for stupidity. When “hasbara” (public relation) champions celebrate nonsense to curry favor with any group of non-Jews feigning friendship, it strikes a visceral cord. The Jewish failure to act logically and behave with self-respect is an affront to Torah. We cannot defeat the Arabs if we cannot understand what it is to be Jewish, or to appreciate what our correct reason for being is based upon.

The Indigenous Rights Movement

Advertisement

One of the more troubling fads of late is the hasbara version of the “indigenous rights” movement, which posits that Eretz Yisrael belongs to us Jews because we are somehow indigenous to the region. (What region, you may ask? The Levant? The Fertile Crescent?) Jews did not arrive at this novel notion by themselves, since those advocating for indigenous “rights” are generally activists and leftists who hate Jews and eagerly defend Arabs as supposed victims of Jewish aggression and Zionist imperialism. To date, the majority of such groups side with the Arabs. Only recently, have we seen the phenomenon where a handful of lone individuals representing “indigenous peoples” aligned themselves with popular hasbara movements.

Contrary to the assertions of many popular online “hasbara” champions, we Jews are NOT “indigenous” to Eretz Yisrael. An honest analysis of the term (always defined by those advocating for such a concept) reveals that to the extent that a definition of “indigenous” could theoretically apply to Jews, it could surely also apply towards other groups, including Arabs.

What is indigenous? The problem with defining the term is that those who advocate for indigenous rights created the definitions. They set down the definitions as divine revelations whose tenets are infallible. They tell us what indigenous means as it relates to their personal beliefs. Many Native Americans (indeed most) who advocate for “Palestinians” will interpret it one way to include Arabs. One particular prominent pro-Israel and “indigenous rights” activist, Ryan Bellerose, a self-identified Metis from Paddle Prairie Settlement in Canada, maintains the opposite. He asserts that Jews are indigenous, while Arabs are not. In any event, in his article, “Israel Palestine: Who’s indigenous?” Ryan sets down his accepted criteria for being an indigenous people:

“To begin, let us acknowledge that there is no rule that a land can have only one indigenous people; it is not a zero sum game in which one group must be considered indigenous so that therefore another is not. However, there is a very clear guideline to being an indigenous people. It is somewhat complex but can be boiled down to the checklist below, as developed by anthropologist José R. Martínez-Cobo (former special rapporteur of the Sub-commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities for the United Nations).”

Further on, Mr. Bellerose continues:

“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.

This historical continuity may consist of the continuation, for an extended period reaching into the present of one or more of the following factors:

  • Occupation of ancestral lands, or at least of part of them
  • Common ancestry with the original occupants of these lands
  • Culture in general, or in specific manifestations (such as religion, living under a tribal system, membership of an indigenous community, dress, means of livelihood, lifestyle, etc.)
  • Language (whether used as the only language, as mother-tongue, as the habitual means of communication at home or in the family, or as the main, preferred, habitual, general or normal language)
  • Residence in certain parts of the country, or in certain regions of the world
  • Religion that places importance on spiritual ties to the ancestral lands
  • Blood quantum – that is, the amount of blood you carry of a specific people to identify as that people. The concept was developed by colonialists in order to eventually breed out native peoples.”

Frankly, I am not interested in this general discussion since I cannot concern myself with the issues of the “indigenous peoples” of the world. Furthermore, the pseudo-academic ramblings of some leftist sociologist who writes statements for the United Nations has no bearing on my beliefs. Nor are they relevant to Jewish concerns. From a Torah perspective, the Arabs have no rights to Eretz Yisrael, nor do any non-Jews, even among the most noble and righteous of them. Mr. Bellerose is willing to grant Arabs “rights of longstanding presence.” I am not. Because the Rambam and the classical Rishonim and Acharonim say differently.

Fortunately, such concepts are both irrelevant and unnecessary for Jews who follow Torah. Eretz Yisrael belongs to us Jews exclusively, for one simple reason: G-d gave it to us. From a Torah perspective, the false claims of other groups who argue likewise are irrelevant, since their ideologies arose long after G-d revealed Divine truths at Mount Sinai.

Yet the indigenous rights movement as it relates to Jews is not only foolish, it is dangerous, since even the most well intended advocates harbor un-Jewish notions far removed from Torah values. They have become spokespersons for Jewish values, when their ideas are antithetical to Torah. They would like to see indigenous rights applied to other groups in Israel, not just Jews. From the Torah perspective, this is entirely incompatible with Halacha. Whether advocating for a purely secular Israel, or a pluralistic Israel allowing equal rights to all faith communities, none of these are in accordance with Halacha.

On a more troubling note, some of these indigenous rights activists have alliances and friendships with missionary groups and prominent messianic personalities. On their trips to Israel and across the U.S., they often meet and greet these individuals, and in doing so, betray that they are not people who have our best interest at heart. They are not a monolithic entity, yet it is fair to say that these activists all have their own agendas. Many sensible Jews support their campaigns, and the dangerous claim that our right to Eretz Yisrael is, at the very least, partially due to indigenous rights.

Racial Nonsense

“Indigenous rights” is a multicultural strain of thinking that ironically many normal Jews who usually reject such notions accept without question. They accept the definitions of indigenous activists, which always remain vague enough to avoid scrutiny, and are imbued with the kinds of racist, blood-based theories that would be rejected outright if suggested by any mainstream group. Anyone who cites “blood quantum” in any context, other than to provide a blood transfusion should trouble us. Such ideas certainly have no basis in Torah. Yet in this case, since a handful of activists are willing to apply this exotic term to Jews, many hasbara types enjoy the prospect of appearing native.

Historical Difficulties

“Most writers on American Indian subjects are bothered by changing intellectual trends and fashions, which dictate new mythologies. Anglo-Americans, above all, have been troubled by guilt feelings, morality, and hypocrisy, whether direct or in reverse. Any ideology tends to obscure perspectives and reality.” (Comanches: History of A People, Fehrenbach, T.R. Preface xiv)

“Every, as the lords of the conquered Mexica admitted to Cortez, it was the way of life for men to seize new lands with shield and spear. The Amerindian world of North America was rent with ancient festering hatreds. (ibid. 25)

Consider the situation with Amerindians in North America. Contrary to the tenets of politically correct history, the notion of indigenous rights as it is often applied to them is historically problematic. Never one to take unbridled political correctness sitting down, I reject the contemporary portrayal of all “native Americans” as peaceful environmentalists. Savagery was not the sole domain of “the white man,” since long before there were white men on the continent, Native Americans butchered one another. The archeological records attest to this fact; they expelled and killed one another.

As an example, one can look at the histories of the migration of Native American whose peoples originated in Asia and migrated towards North America. Given the origins of their people, the following questions are surely reasonable:

  1. Did such people abandon their indigenous status to their original lands when they migrated? Did they retain indigenous statuses in both regions?
  2. What is the indigenous natures of tribes who displaced and exterminated other tribes from different regions during the many brutal campaigns of warfare that tribal people’s engaged in with other Native Americans?
  3. In the case of American Indians who earned indigenous claims through blood and warfare towards other tribes, might Europeans who came to North America not make the same claims? Those who came later simply bested those who lacked better weapons and resources. (I state simply in the interest of theoretical discussion, without opining on nuances of the morality of the overall conflict.)

Those activists who argue for Jewish indigenous rights ignore the historical record conveyed in the Torah of indigenous “First Nation” people who fell under our sword. Non-believers may question the authenticity of the biblical account, but even a bible denier cannot reject the historical record. They were here first. Most honest Native Americans see parallels with Jews who entered “Canaan” with colonizing Europeans, who “stole land” from the Indians.

From a Jewish perspective, the notion of a blood-based identity is an affront to Judaism, which accepts the genuine convert. Our connection to Torah is based upon adherence to the law rather than imagined notion of race. In a sense, the Jewish desire to argue “indigenous rights” is a reaction formation to absurd Arab assertions that they are the descendants of Canaanites.

G-d gave us the land of Israel, despite the presence of “indigenous” peoples who were there long before us. It did not matter, since The Almighty created everything. Upon entering the land, our mandate was clear. Clean the land of the “indigenous” inhabitants.

I understand that many secular Jews are uncomfortable with religious claims that contradict their worldview. I disagree with them, but I understand where they are coming from. In the absence of Torah knowledge, religious claims are meaningless. What I cannot fathom is that so many religious Jews latch on to un-Jewish theories to justify our Divine inheritance. I do not require an indigenous claim. I have the same claim that motivated the great Joshua to conquer Eretz Yisrael from the pagan Canaanites who were already residing there when we Jews first arrived.

We Jews are not Philistines, Canaanites, nor Jebusites. We were the conquerors of the former on a Divine mission. Indeed, our failure to purge Eretz Yisrael of these indigenous types is something the Torah repeatedly warned about, and is the direct cause of the land vomiting us out. Divine rights are the only arguments that have any meaning to me as a religious Jew.

A self-respecting Jew need never be ashamed to speak the truth of Tanach, which records our only true claim to Israel. Balfour Declarations and U.N. votes are of zero worth for the Torah Jew. A disconnected Jew may be ashamed of the religious claim. A genuine tragedy, since it is the only moral claim we Jews can hang our hats on. In the absence of that, we are merely one more example of colonizers who claimed a plot of land.

Indigenous Definitions

Perhaps the greatest response to Ryan Bellerose relates to the dilemma he raises at the conclusion of his article, “Israel Palestine: Who’s Indigenous?”:

“Now you might ask, why is this important? It is important to indigenous people because we cannot allow the argument that conquerors can become indigenous. If we, as other indigenous people, allow that argument to be made, then we are delegitimizing our own rights.

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.”

Those Troublesome Canaanites

Therein is our Jewish answer. Based upon our biblical claims, we Jews cannot be indigenous, since we conquered the Canaanites. According to Bellerose’s definition, our Jewish biblical account renders us as conquerors. As such, those who believe in Torah cannot subscribe to his theories. Advocates for indigenous Jews can never answer these questions. What do we do with the Canaanites? Perhaps a better question is, what did we do, or what should we have done to the Canaanites?

The great biblical and talmudic commentator Rashi destroys the “indigenous rights argument” with his commentary on the first verse in the Book of Genesis. He cites Rabbi Yitzchak who questioned why the Torah began in this manner detailing creation rather than from the first mitzvah. This would make sense since the Torah essentially deals with Halacha. He answers that the Torah began with creation so that the nations in the future when they pointed out our conquest of the 7 Nations, the Jewish people could answer that the whole world belongs to Hashem. He can give it to whichever people He desires. At the time, he saw fit to give it to the Canaanites, and then he removed it from their control and gave it to us.

Case closed. The indigenous argument loses.

From a Torah perspective, the notion that we Jews have a claim to Eretz Yisrael based upon “indigenous rights” is absurd. We are not “indigenous” to Israel. Indigenous is a nonsense term which race obsessed multiculturalists use. Israel belongs to the Jewish nation, because G-d gave it to us. We conquered the Canaanites, and now it is ours. Our claim to Eretz Yisrael is Divine inheritance. Indigenous claims amount to pseudo-science, which in turn, would grant indigenous rights to practically every other minority group living in Israel today. In fact, this is the intention of many who advocate for such a concept.

Fellow Jews, leave the indigenous argument in the halls of the U.N.  where it belongs. G-d gave us the land of Israel and that is enough.

Advertisement

63 COMMENTS

  1. Another nonsensical, irrational and badly argued piece about an issue which doesn't apply to why indigenous is currently used. The same logic could be applied to the "MIssion" ideology (Teudah) of the Reform Movement – Diasporic existence so as to spread the word of the Lord. Outside of Eretz-Yisrael, the Mitzvot HaTeluyot ba-aretz don't apply so, could it be that we are not indigenous but that the mitzvot are?

  2. I wonder if anyone who truly wishes to argue any of the points Donny made will do so or will they continue to resort to insults. Which points do they disagree with and why? Most of those who don't grasp the article and insult are nothing short of propaganda tools with egos that have been acustomed to being populists and seeking out the next "great gentile" acitivst tool. Why not use Jewish arguments instead of this new worldly concept? Are they afraid they might loses support, attention and funds?
    Again I challenge those who only insult to comment on actual points in the article.

  3. This is an excellent article by Donny Fuchs which exposes the absurdity of the "indigenous" fad sweeping the hasbara world. The article demonstrates how the claim does not stand up to Tora, and how the claim does not stand up to the definitions created and accepted by the international community these activists claim to want to convince. To quote one of these same activists (from the article):

    "“Now you might ask, why is this important? It is important to indigenous people because we cannot allow the argument that conquerors can become indigenous. If we, as other indigenous people, allow that argument to be made, then we are delegitimizing our own rights.

    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.”

    And yet, these same activists are trying to argue for the application of the indigenous label to Am Yisra'el, who most certainly conquered the previous inhabitants of Eretz Yisra'el, as is explicitly and repeatedly described and recounted throughout the Tora, Nevi'im, Ketuvim, Hazal, and all of the wise teachers of Yisra'el.

    If the descendants of Avraham, Sara, Rivka, Le'a, Rahel, Bilha, Zilpa, Reuven, Shim'on, Levi, Yehuda, Dan, Naftali, Asher, Zevulun, Gad, Yissakhar, and Yosef – all of whom were born outside of Eretz Yisra'el, and resided in the land as gerim during their own lives (Yitzhak and Ya'akov were born in the land, but were also gerim in the land) – can become indigenous to a land they conquered from its previous inhabitants, that says conquerors can become indigenous.

  4. Most of this is utter rubbish. The author doesn't really address the key issues, he just dances around them, and then dismisses them out of hand.

    As for comparing what the Torah says with what the historical evidence says, we cannot expect the outside world to accept Torah as complete and infallible truth, even if you, personally believe that to be the case.

    So when one is arguing to Non-Jews, or non-Orthodox Jews, simply claiming the land because the Torah says it is ours DOESN'T WORK.

    As someone who spends a LOT of my free time advocating for Israel, let me ask you to think about something:

    Why do you think that the arguments I put out to the world have to include ALL my reasons for supporting Israel?

    I *do* believe that Hashem promised the land to our people, for all eternity. That doesn't mean that I have to use that to make the case to othe people.

    And as an academic, I can tell you that making use of sociological definitions and constructs, like the notion of what it means to be indigenous, DOES help make the case for the world to support Israel, and reject Arab claims to our land.

    And YES!!! We *ARE* indigenous, according to the definitions accepted by anthropologists, sociologists, etc, and now accepted by the UN.

    According to the Torah, Avraham was from Ur, in the Chaldeans. But that does not mean our nation was born there. Our national identity was forged in the land of Canaan, now called Israel. Our language was born there, as evidenced by the writings found on pettery shards and preserved scrolls. Our religion was born their. Our identity as SEPARATE from the rest of Avraham's family and tribe was born in Canaan.

    WHY would you want to deny that???? Especially when your denial hurts our people?

    What possible benefit is there to restricting ourselves to ineffective arguments, easily dismissed by those who do not accept the torah?

  5. "If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked."

    Would it be a lie to say we did not conquer the land from a people before us? Is that not a distortion? The truth would simply be Hashem gave us the Land not a UN definition.

  6. Danny Fuchs needs to calm down and do some more quiet study and deep reflection.

    So, if not "indigenous," how about "aboriginal"?

    Of all extant Peoples, "the" aboriginal People is the one that was there first in time — without regard to whether it was born in the land or arrived by conquest. In this regard, you will certainly enjoy my carefully crafted historical-juridical essay entitled "Aboriginal Rights of the Jewish People" which is available at:

    http://www.allenzhertz.com/2009/11/aboriginal-rights-to-israel.html

    I have three history degrees from McGill and Columbia Universities and two law degrees from Cambridge University and the University of Toronto. I worked as "senior adviser" to Canada's Prime Minister, including with regard to aboriginal issues.

    Take some time to consider my arguments that compare the rights of the age-old Jewish People in "Eretz Israel" to those of the Greek People in Greece, and the "Aboriginal Peoples of Canada" in their tribal lands.

    And by the way, the secular theory of the aboriginal rights of the Jewish People is not inconsistent with Orthodox Judaism.

  7. Indigenous or not. All kinds of argumentation for and specifically against a Jewish presence in the Holy Land have been on the table. Latest(?) the leftist/Pal-Arab theory about modern day Jews as originated from a mysterious kingdom in Eastern Europe named Khazar. Thus, all Jews are Khazars. Ironically, the only Jews accepted by the anti-Semites are those opposing the Jewish State of Israel. But it’s the most religious group of Jews and would be the kind of Jews persecuted in earlier times. – Better give up lofty argumentation and let’s call the whole thing off. By that I mean let’s be armed to the teeth. Strength is a very persuadable tool.

  8. Where did we first observe Pesach? Where did we first observe Purim? The Babylonian Talmud? Where did Moses give the blessings? Where was the Torah given? What about "greater Israel"….how does that play out with the indigenous argument? What is the end goal for this indigenous argument? As Jews we should compare it to the goal of Torah as it applies to us and even the non Jew. Do people supporting the indigenous rights argument actually support a Jewish homeland or just the State?

  9. The international community which created and accepts the label indigenous and its general definitions accept that the Arab "Palestinians" are indigenous, along with a number of other non-Jewish peoples (such as Samaritans, Druzim, Bedouin). The indigenous argument is not convincing those people, it is convincing people who already accept Israel, except it is convincing them to accept a completely bogus argument. Even if people succeed in getting the international community to accept that Jews are indigenous, they will never get them to accept that the Arab "Palestinians" and other non-Jews are *not* indigenous, and they will never accept the idea that Jews have a right to rule over all the other peoples they consider to be indigenous to the land. People think they are going to beat the nations with their own language, but it is not happening now and it is not going to happen.

  10. I only skimmed this, so if I missed out on examples of people who advance the idea that the exclusive rights of the Jews to all of the land. I've never heard of anyone basing themselves solely on that.
    True, God gave the Jewish people Israel, but that means nothing in international law.
    The following certainly does… very much:
    Legal Rights and Title of Sovereignty of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel and Palestine under International Law
    Howard Grief
    http://www.acpr.org.il/ENGLISH-NATIV/02-issue/grief-2.htm

  11. That is not the main point of the article ; Even if we are indiginous to eretz hakodesh ; our right as a people to settle there is not based on "indiginous rights" ! The land belongs to hashem and he gave it to us on a conditional basis that we keep the Mitzvot; Hashem gave it to us and he can take it away

  12. Ben Afra God gave it to us because if not for the Jews, the Land would be nothing. Our input activates its sanctity. In that sense we are indigenous. Why did God, before the Giving of the Torah, tell Avraham to go to a specific Land and there be indigenous? Fuchs has it backwards and twisted.

  13. Why in the sam heck can't non-Jews accept the claims of Torah? Why are G-dless, liberal, "enlightenment" arguments so potent with so many Jews? There are already non-Jews who accept the Torah's account, but unfortunately most Jews despise them.

  14. This article is EXCELLENT!!! I've been waiting for someone to point out that once G-d says something, nothing against it may be said on the matter. "Indigenism," like liberalism, democracy, and the secularist refuge ideology, have nothing to do with Torah whatsoever. Every appeal to any secular rationale for the Jewish presence in Israel is a cop out and a sell-out to foreign, un-Jewish ideas. About time somebody said this! Why O WHY are so many Jews addicted to the ideology of Voltaire and Rousseau???

    Moreover, the leftist "indigenous" movement is nothing but "reverse Nazism." Leftists who claim to deplore "blood and soil" arguments wind up making them (along with defenses of pre-moder "indigenous" religions even as they attempt to destroy Sefer Bere'shit with arguments from European "science"). What do the fanatical indigenous nationalists intend to do with the millions of descendants of invaders who remember no other home? Kill them? Imprison them? Repatriate them (to where?)?

    I am a poor "redneck" whose ancestors were probably convict laborers or indentured servants. I wasn't born with Thomas Jefferson's silver spoon in my mouth. Is my presence in the land of my birth an affront to the "holy mother soil" of some mythical "indigenous" Arcadia?

    Liberals are such damned hypocrites. They even advocate Nazism so long as it is aimed against the "right" people, and they make excuses for doing so. Why would I not detest them every bit as much as they detest me???

  15. Don't agree, and you need to take a good look at the Archeological studies and their findings. There was reason that the Post Egyptian Sojourn Jews had the Judges and the Prophets slanging Canaanities. It took a long time for most Hebrews/Jews to become true Monotheists, and frankly interpreting the Books literally? The core is true, but typical of Indigenous Peoples, the Oral Tradition preceded the Written Tradition by a long, long time. There is nothing wrong with being Indigenous to the "Promised Land", Land makes the People, and that Land is bone and blood with Jews, there is no place that has not touched us as a People, and that we have not touched in our relationship with G-d and our Responsibilities. PS: Explain if you would, how you come up with the idea that Jews have not subsumed and had in commonality the Land those other NW Semitic Tribes called Canaanites? They spoke the same language, had the same cultural matrix, and even referenced the same names for G-d prior to the Egyptian Captivity as dd the Hebrews. Where do you think the name "El" as in "Elohim" came from?

  16. "Eretz Yisrael is first and foremost the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people, irrespective of security issues, not as a tactic against Palestinian claims but as an historic truth central to the story of our people.

    You might claim indigeneity to be “un-Jewish” Mr. Fuchs but nothing feels more natural for me than to declare myself a Jew indigenous to the Land of Israel."

    http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/response-to-jews-are-not-indigenous/

  17. A few thoughts in response to “‘Response to “Jews are NOT indigenous’”
    NATHANIEL FEINGOLD·MONDAY, MARCH 14, 2016
    A few thoughts in response to the blog, “Reponse to “Jews are NOT indigenous”,” by Hila Hershkoviz (http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/resp…)
    Avraham and his ancestors originated beyond the Euphrates River in the lands of Aram. Avraham and his earliest descendants sojourned in the land of Kena'an as strangers. Am Yisra'el received the Torah at Har Sinai and learned to observe much of it in the wilderness, all outside the land. Then Am Yisra'el conquered the land from the Kena'anim and established Torah law over the conquered lands and peoples. This is what the Torah, the Prophets, and the Sages unapologetically affirm.
    The millennia of Jewish history as strangers before conquest and as rulers after, the centuries of Jewish kingdoms and Temples, the feeling of a deep connection to the land, Jews should know and be proud of these things, but none of it has anything to do with being indigenous. Jewish people, culture, language, etc. developed in Bavel no less than anywhere else, but that does not make Jews indigenous to Bavel either.
    The idea that the Kena'anim were conquering Eretz Yisra'el from the descendants of Shem in the days of Avraham seems to find little support outside of Rashi's comment on Genesis 12:6, even elsewhere in his own commentary. For instance, in his commentary on Numbers 13:22, Rashi indicates that Hevron was built by Ham for Kena'an, rhetorically asking if it is possible that Ham built Hevron for Kena'an, his youngest son, before he built Tzo'an for Mitzrayim, his eldest.
    More explicitly, in his commentary on Genesis 1:1 and Psalms 111:6, Rashi reminds us that HaShem, the Creator of the earth, gave the land to the Kena'anim before He took it from them and gave it to Yisra'el:
    "Rabbi Yitzhak said, "It was not necessary to begin the Torah except from “This month is to you” (Exodus 12:2), which is the first commandment that Yisra'el was commanded. Now for what reason did He commence with “In the beginning?” Because of [the verse] “The strength of His works He related to His people, to give them the inheritance of the nations” (Psalms 111:6). For if the world should say to Yisra'el, “You are robbers, for you conquered by force the lands of the seven nations [of Kena'an],” they will reply, "The entire earth belongs to the Holy One, blessed be He; He created it and gave it to whomever He deemed proper When He wished, He gave it to them (the Kena'anim), and when He wished, He took it away from them and gave it to us (Yisra'el)." (Rashi on Genesis 1:1)
    "When He gave them (Yisra'el) the inheritance of the nations (Kena'anim), He let them know His strength and His might. And Midrash Tanhuma (Buber, Genesis 11): He wrote for Yisra'el [about] the Creation to let them know that the earth is His and that it is in His power to settle in it anyone He wishes, and to move these out and settle others, so that the nations will not be able to say to Yisra'el, “You are thieves, for you conquered the land of the seven nations [of Kena'an].” (Rashi on Psalms 111:6).

  18. This does not say that the nations will not say Yisra'el are thieves. They do, and will continue to say this. Just as they say it when it comes to the particular locations of the Cave of Makhpela, the tomb of Yosef, and the Temple Mount, which were purchased by Avraham, Ya'akov, and David. The point is that Yisra'el should know better than to be convinced by or get sucked into the arguments of the nations. Because it is to Yisra'el that HaShem relayed His creation of the world, and to Yisra'el that He chose to give the land with the conditions of the Torah.
    That Avraham and his descendants dwelled in the land of Kena'an as strangers is explained in Rashi's commentary on 15:13: "It does not say, “[strangers] in the land of Mitzrayim,” but “[strangers in a land] that is not theirs,” and from the time Yitzhak was born (Genesis 21:34): “and Avraham sojourned, etc.” (Genesis 20:1): “And [Yitzhak] sojourned in Gerar.” (Psalms 105:23): “And Ya'akov sojourned in the land of Ham.” (Genesis 47:4): “To sojourn in the land we have come.” – [from Midrash Abchir]"
    Ramban also explained that the Avot dwelled as strangers in the land in his commentary on Genesis 37:1: "The explanation for "and Ya'akov settled in the land of his father's sojournings" (Genesis 37:1) is that [Torah] is saying that the chiefs of Edom settled "in the land of their inheritance" (Genesis 36:43), the land that they took for themselves as an eternal inheritance, but Ya'akov dwelt as a stranger, as his fathers [Avraham and Yitzhak] did, in a land that was not theirs but Kena'an's. And the intention is to tell us that they [Ya'akov, Yitzhak, and Avraham] chose to sojourn in the chosen land. And it tells us that, "that your offspring shall be aliens in a land not their own" (Genesis 15:13) was fulfilled through them [Ya'akov and Yitzhak], and not Esav. For it was through Ya'akov alone that offspring was considered theirs [Avraham's and Yitzhak's]."
    Contrary to the claim that Ramban explains the journey of Avraham's family to the land of Kena'an as a return to their homeland, Ramban explains in his commentary on Genesis 11:28 that Avraham and his fathers had always dwelled beyond the Euphrates River prior to Avraham:
    "It is written, "Beyond the [Euphrates] River your forefathers always dwelled" (Joshua 24:2), and the word "always" (me'olam) implies that his forebears had always been there. And it is written, "I took your father Avraham from Beyond the River (me'Ever HaNahar)" (Joshua 24:3) … Rather, the truth is that their native land was the land of Aram, in the area known as Beyond-the-River (Ever HaNahar), and that was [Avraham's] ancestral inheritence from antiquity. As Scripture says of the descendants of Shem, "Their dwelling place extended from Mesha going toward Sefar, the mountain to the east" (Genesis 10:30), the "mountain of the east" being a general name for a large area, as is written of the descendants of Shem, "in their lands by their nations" (Genesis 10:31). And it is written, "From Aram did Balak, king of Mo'av, lead me, from the mountains of the east" (Numbers 23:7). Thus you see that he (Avraham) and his fathers were from that land (Aram) from antiquity." (Ramban on Genesis 11:28)

  19. And in his commentary on Genesis 14:18, Ramban brings up and dismisses Rashi's interpretation of Genesis 12:6 (that the Kena'anim were conquering the land from the descendants of Shem) based on the peshat of the Torah, which explicitly describes the land as belonging to the Kena'anim prior to Avraham:
    "According to our Sages (TB Nedarim 32b), who say that Malki Tzedek was Shem ben-No'ah, he went from his land to Yerushalayim to serve HaShem there, and was a kohen to the Supreme God for them (the Kena'anim), because he was the venerated brother of their father (Ham), for Yerushalayim was always within the border of the Kena'ani. Rashi wrote above [regarding] "the Kena'ani was then in the land" (Genesis 12:6): "[the Kena'ani] was going and conquering the land of Yisra'el from the offspring of Shem, ancestor of Avraham, for it fell in the portion of Shem when No'ah apportioned the earth to his sons, as it says, "and Malki Tzedek, king of Shalem" (Genesis 14:18)." But this is not correct, for "the border of the Kena'ani extended from Tzidon [going toward Gerar, as far as Aza, going toward Sedom, Amora, Adma, and Tzevoyim, as far as Lasha]" (Genesis 10:19) encompassing all of the land of Yisra'el, while the border of Benei Shem was east of Mesha (Genesis 10:30), far from the land of Yisra'el. But if No'ah apportioned the lands to his sons, and gave the land of Yisra'el to Shem, it was as "one who apportions his possessions by his mouth [for distribution after his death]" (a phrase used in TB Bava Batra 126b), and Benei Kena'an would dwell in it until HaShem would endow it to the offspring [of Avraham] who loved Him, as I have mentioned [on Genesis 10:14]."
    In other words, while HaShem always intended to eventually give the land to Shem's descendants, the land belonged to the Kena'anim in the days of Shem, Avraham, Yitzhak, Ya'akov, and his descendants, who went from their own lands to dwell in the land as strangers, until He brought Yisra'el out of Mitzrayim, and brought them into the land to conquer it from the Kena'anim. That Yosef refers to "the land of the Ivrim" in Genesis 40:15 does not change that he and his fathers all sojourned in the land as strangers, just as Yisra'el did in the land of Goshen, which was known to be their dwelling place in Mitzrayim.
    But even if, for the sake of argument, the nations were convinced that Jews are indigenous to the land, what tangible results do those who push this argument envision? Do they expect these nations to then conclude that the descendants of pre-state and pre-modern aliyot non-Jewish communities are not indigenous, or are less indigienous than Jews? Do they expect the nations to accept the annexation of Yerushalayim and Golan? Do they expect the nations to accept continued military rule of Yehuda and Shomron?
    A majority of voting nations voted for the establishment of Jewish and Arab states between the Jordan and Mediterranean long before this indigenous fad, and they will continue to demand the establishment of an Arab state in Yehuda, Shomron, and Aza whether they argue that the Arabs are indigenous or not. No matter how you slice it, they demand an Arab state next to Israel, and will not be convinced otherwise by any argument. And those who demand an Arab state on Israel's ruins will not be convinced by any argument either.
    That is not to say that Jews should just do nothing. But there is no hasbara, no indigenous rights argument, no human rights argument, no historical or archaeological argument, nothing that will get the nations and their organizations to stop pressuring the state of Israel re: an Arab state in YeSHA, and all of the talk and writing aimed at convincing them is wasted.

    By Nathaniel Feingold

  20. I agree completely with Donny Fuchs' message.
    G-d gave us this land because we became His Chosen People who areed to follow His TORAH – and NOT because we were HIS INDIGENOUS PEOPLE.
    Being 'idigenous' is actually a ridiculous and irrelevant arguement.

  21. Of course God did not give us the land because we are indigenous. That does not mean that we are not indigenous! God gave us the land and we are also indigenous. That is the historical truth and it is unwise at best to deny it. At worst, it is sheer stupidity playing directly into the hands of our enemies.

  22. Bingo!
    I think the heart of the problem lies with the impossibility of non Jews, to fully comprehend the Torah with it's spiritual meaning.
    The Torah was given exclusively to the unique souls of the Hebrew people who were present at Mt Sinai and who later became known as the Jewish people.
    I understand what Donny Fuchs is saying and I agree with it.
    Non Jews like Ryan Bellerose simply don't get it because they weren't meant to get it in the first place.
    It's a Jewish thing after all and one has to be a fairly observant Jew to understand the deeper more spiritual message of Torah.

  23. Moshe David Tokayer — The historical truth is that Am Yisra'el conquered Eretz Yisra'el from its previous inhabitants, regardless of whether anyone 2,500-3,400 years later identifies as Kena'anite. If you can come from a far off land and conquer a people and implement your laws against them and their culture, and can still become indigenous to their land, then almost anyone can become indigenous to a conquered land, and it means nothing. The indigenous argument is a non-Torah argument whose pushers arrogantly believe people will not accept that HaShem gave it to Yisra'el, but that they can get people to believe their made up arguments.

  24. Nathaniel Feingold The problem with the article and all those who agree is that it assumes that there is a mutual exclusivity between the indigenous argument and the fact that God gave the land to the Jewish people. There is no contradiction between the two. I believe that God gave the land to the Jews. That doesn't make them not indigenous!

    It's true that the nation of Israel conquered the land from the Canaanites. But if we're going with the Torah then it's also true that Chazal teach us that God gave the land to Shem and his descendants, not to Ham and his descendants. The Jews were taking back what was rightfully ours to begin with.

    But even if that were not the case, the fact that the Jews conquered that land 3,300 years ago doesn't mean that we are not indigenous to the land. Being indigenous does NOT mean that you're the first people to settle a piece of land. For a good discussion of the term see here: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/5session_factsheet1.pdf

    The Jewish people fill every single point for being indigenous in the Land of Israel.

    I want to reiterate. The article would have been okay if the point was that we should use only that God gave us the land as our argument that it is ours. That's a viewpoint on policy that can be argued with

    The article unfortunately goes much further than that and claims that we are not indigenous. It's wrong and in addition to being wrong it's dangerous as plays directly into the hands of our enemies. What's the point?!

  25. Donny Fuchs You are the one who does not understand that there is no contradiction between believing that God gave us the land and that we are also indigenous to it. Of course God gave us the land. Does that mean that we are not indigenous?? The Jews pass every criteria for being indigenous to the Land of Israel. No other nation that exists today passes and can claim that they are indigenous. That's why the Arabs who live here have to fall back on the lie that they are descendants of the Canaanites when they want to claim that they are indigenous. They understand that they cannot say that they invaded in the 7th century and also claim that they are indigenous. Only we can claim it. Here is a good fact sheet from the U.N. on criteria for qualifying as indigenous: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/5session_factsheet1.pdf. I wonder if you even bothered to check what it means to be indigenous.

    I would suggest that you do your homework well and then write carefully before spewing dangerous nonsense that can only harm us.

Loading Facebook Comments ...