Open Letter Regarding Projects between First Nations and Israeli People
Date: Tuesday, February 28 2006
A few months ago I read a news article about a project to create a Native Embassy in Israel (link to article below). I was suprised and confused at this development, and that in the comparison of Jewish and
Native People, there was no mention of Palestians, or for that matter, the frequently volatile relationship between them and the Israeli People.
I also shared a concern with others in that, it doesn't make any sense for Tadoule Lake First Nation to get an embassy in Israel - not while First Nations here are being disenfranchised by the Canadian Government,
exploited by numerous Corporations, and even harmed by their (government-appointed) 'Leadership'.
Only when Natives in Canada first have their own government; and then having built an embassy in Ottawa, can an embassy in Israel even be considered. And we would most certainly have to acknowledge how this
would effect Israeli-Palestinian relations, since in many respects, Palestinians are going through exactly what the Natives in Canada have gone through for centuries (and the Israeli Government's policies towards Palestinians are often similar to the Canadian and American Government's policies towards First Nations People).
With that in mind; today I found out about a Native delegation travelling to Israel for a cultural exchange. While there is certainly
nothing wrong with that, in fully reading the media advisory (which also follows) the concerns I had about the Native embassy came rushing forward again...
So I decided to write this letter, and ask people to help make certain everyone involved in these projects (and any to follow) have all the knowledge needed to make informed decisions, for the benefit of all of us.
I mean, let's just consider the situation with David Ahenakew, who's actions are the reason these projects are happening: Hate propaganda was put in the mind of David, which he later expressed in an interview
(where he called "Jews a 'disease' and [suggested] the Holocaust was justified").
The only reason David expressed these ideas is not because he hated Jewish people; It is because he was misguided. David was uninformed...
Had he known the truth, he would not have made the choice he did. And the same is true with what the AFN and some First Nations People are doing here - They would choose differently; for example, acknowledge the
lesson here and do something that truly benefits us, that is not entrenched in politics or harmful to the already complicated and violent goings-on between Israelis and Palestinians.
The lesson, is that making uninformed decisions often brings unrecognized and harmful consequences - that we don't really want. We can already see from peoples' feedback about all this, that harm is
exactly what's being done.
And so I also ask the AFN, and other First Nations People if they'd like, to inquire as to why/how harm is being done here; and then once you have some answers, that you consider writing a public statement in repsonse to the issues brought up here.
Then atleast we can be certain of how we must proceed to ensure no violence or conflict is perpetuated, or agendas advanced that further
disserve any Israeli, Palestinian, or Native Person.
John Schertow (Ahniwanika)
ps. I just want to clarify that it is not my intention to suggest working with Israeli People is a bad thing; I personally have no quarrel with any Israeli or Palestinian. The problem here is with Politics, and my intention is to see things come from all this that benefit everyone connected to this - starting with the Denesuline People of Tadoule Lake and all Indigenous Communities on this land.
Native Embassy in Israel
Media advisory - First Nation trip to Israel
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Native Embassy in Israel
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