From Israzine Nov., 2014: "Zionism, An Indigenous Struggle: Aboriginal Americans and the Jewish State"
In 1974, Dennis Banks, a leader of the new American Indian Movement (AIM) travelled to Vienna to meet with the World Council of Churches. While there, he also met with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, identified as a terrorist group, but having nothing to do with American Indians. Why would there be any meeting between AIM and the PLO?
The American Indian Movement, with a violent and anti-American image, had already established ties and associations with Angela Davis and the Communist Party, the Socialist Workers Party (Minneapolis), the American Labor Party, Cesar Chavez, the Puerto Rican Solidarity Committee, Fidel Castro, Hollywood entertainers, and a host of other new Communist organizations popping up all over the United States. The PLO was considered another anti-American Communist effort, and AIM was trying to identify with the general Communist racial agitation movement that was sweeping the “oppressed” peoples of the Third World. Most of these groups welcomed AIM, for no people like the American Indians could shout its protest as loud against America. AIM quickly became a favorite of the anti-American movements. (See: Alan Stang, “Red Indians,” in American Opinion, September, 1975.)
When I entered the field of American Indian politics in 2001, and learned the history of AIM, I was appalled. That the American Indian should be used as the mascot of the political low-life of the world was to me intolerable. I had nothing but positive intuitions about the Indian role in American society. Indians are an integral part of the land, like the rivers and mountains – more than the Europeans will ever be. The American national image can never be complete or sound without the American Indian being a fundamental part of it. This idea must be put forth positively and not in a confrontational way. Some Americans have a profound respect for Indians. The “Communist” (Socialist, Leftist, Liberal, and Progressive) use of aboriginals, though, seems to have obscured these natural psychological affinities. In demonstrating the Indian’s natural affection for the land, the Indian can be seen as the bedrock of patriotism to the land.
I denounced the protracted and paid belly-aching on the part of AIM, and condemned its influence as detrimental to Indian youth. Such a negative outlook as was being professionally pushed by Communist-funded (– now we call “liberal” or “Democrat”) anti-American, anti-constitutionalists was impossible and dangerous. To my mind, nothing poisoned youth more that this nasty disposition of “I’ve been wronged,” and “You owe me.” It crushed every natural aspiration of youth. It stifled the intuitive ambitions of young people, particularly young men.
Then, as early as 2002, I began hearing of attempts to actually equate the “plight” of the so-called “Palestinians” with that of the American Indian. I found this bizarre. I could not perceive the association. Implied by this, of course, was that Israel was somehow the equivalent of the European invaders of the American continent. So it seemed the Indians were cast against the Jews. This was preposterous, in my opinion.
However, what really struck me was the absolute ignorance of who the so-called “Palestinians” really were, which allowed for the berserk claims that there was a natural connection between American Indians and “Palestinians.” By this time, of course, most people knew nothing of the origins of the American Indian Movement, and its anti-American roots, nor of the earliest attempts of associating it with “Palestinians.” My work was cut out for me. I had to expose, at least to my audience that consists of conservatives and patriots of all ethnicities and nationalities, the world over who the “Palestinians” were, and why they should not be associated with American Indians.
The people who are today referred to as “Palestinians” are Jordanian, Syrian, and more recently, a mix of other Arab nationals, and some military mercenaries from various Middle Eastern countries like Iran and groups like Al-Qaeda. “Palestinian” does not refer to a race, language, a culture, a land, or a nation. It is a political fantasy. There is no Palestine, and there are no Palestinians.
The word “Palestine” comes from an ancient Hebrew word, פלשת (pelesheth), which has a root meaning “rolling,” and means migratory. In Biblical literature, it is first used in Exodus 15:14, identifying the land and inhabitants who would greatly fear the approach of the children of Israel as Israel came up from Egypt. It was a general term for a general area and people. However, in other ancient, non-Hebrew records, the land (or people) is not referred to as such, but separate tribal inhabitants are named, or the names of their ‘kings,’ such as Kummuhu, Urik, Sibitti-be’l, Enil, Panammu, etc. Tiglath-Pileser III (744-727) left such an inscription. (See, The Ancient Near East, ed. James B. Pritchard, 1973, p.193.) Apparently, the eastern coast of the Mediterranean was an evolving identity, being highly coveted real estate, yet, until inhabited by Israel, never saw an established nation over any significant period of time.
In the Torah, the same land is also called Cana’an. Cana’an was, however, just another tribe inhabiting the area. There were Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Cana’anites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites (Deuteronomy 7:1). The list varies slightly elsewhere in the Torah (e.g., Exodus 33:2), but Cana’an is a consistent reference. The land of Cana’an was the land of promise. It was promised to Abraham (Genesis 17:8).
“Palestine” has also been occasionally associated with the word Pi-liš-te, or Philistine. The ancient Hebrew word is פלשתי (pelishtee), which is very similar to pelesheth (Palestine). This people, believed to be Egyptian in origin, did inhabit and dominate the coasts, certainly around the eleventh and tenth centuries BCE. Obviously, they were not part of the original migrants at the time of the Exodus.
None of these ancient peoples who inhabited Palestine prior to the Jews, were Arab, nor were they part of any other nation. They were very loosely confederate “fertility cults” with no political focus. When the children of Israel came upon the land, these tribes for the first time experienced a circumstantial unity, which comprised fear of a common enemy.
At the time of the destruction of the 2nd Temple (70 CE), there was, contrary to popular Christian belief, no major or significant dispersion of Jewish people. A small number of Christian Jews left the country for Peraea (a Transjordan province). The Jews in general did not leave the country. A new Jewish educational system was immediately established by the famous Rabbi Johannan ben Zakkai. As a people, Israel retained its identity. The Roman armies of Titus destroyed only Jerusalem and the national government. The people and the culture remained. (See, Michael Grant, The Jews in the Roman World (1973), p. 206, f.)
Without a national government, without a Temple, the coming centuries saw a certain lack of national Jewish focus in the land of Cana’an (Palestine). By the time of WWII (1945), the migration of European and Russian Jews to Palestine struck the uninformed world as a radical move. Arab peoples had inhabited Palestine for some time, people from Jordan, southern Syria, and even some Egyptians. It was all a leftover Muslim effect from the medieval era (7th century AD). The Arab Muslims made a profound claim not only on Palestine, but on the very site of the 2nd Temple. This, of course, is the historically established Muslim procedure—to take over, to claim someone else’s land, to coerce the inhabitants, and to deny other national identities. There is no intent to respect, not to honor, but only to destroy that which is not Islamic.
The modern history of Palestine, as a British land management project (which included the etching out artificial borders of Arab countries all over the Middle East) is found in a fabulous volume by Joan Peters, called From Time Immemorial (1984). As in no other work, Peters documents all. The Arab Muslim “refugees” in Palestine, “victims” of the Jewish invasion, were mostly Jordanian and Syrian, and were not allowed back into their own countries, but rather were used as tools, as pricks, in the side of the new Israel. Indeed, some of these “immemorial” refugees were declared refugees (by the United Nations Relief and Work Agency) if they had lived in Palestine a minimum of two years before the 1948 conflict.
Rosemary Syigh wrote in 1977 that “a strongly defined Palestinian identity did not emerge until 1968, two decades after expulsion.” Peters comments, “It had taken twenty years to establish the “myth” prescribed by Musa Alami” See, Rosemary Syigh, “Sources of Palestinian Nationalism: A Study of a Palestinain Camp in Lebanon,” Journal of Palestinian Studies, vol. 6, no.3, 1977. Musa Alami (1897-1984) was an Arab leader born in Jerusalem. Peters quotes him as saying in 1948, “The people are in great need of a “myth” to fill their consciousness and imagination” (Peters, p.11). Alami wrote in 1949, “How can people struggle for their nation, when most of them do not know the meaning of the word? … The people are in great need of a ‘myth’ to fill their consciousness and imagination…” Musa Alami, “The Lesson of Palestine,” The Middle East Journal, October, 1949.
Palestine is not a country. “Palestinian” does not denote a language, a religion, a culture, or an ethnicity. It is a myth, indeed. It is a political vision and the most ill-founded, perverted money laundry in modern times. That even someone as noble and broad-minded as Benjamin Netanyahu must speak of “Palestinians” as if they are a legitimate people demonstrates how effective anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism still is in the world.
As an American Indian, a Comanche from Oklahoma, it may strike some as wholly inappropriate that I should venture to comment on affairs so apparently remote from my own. There is a reason for my indulgence: In 2002, there were journalistic political attempts to associate Palestinians with American Indians, such as “Swallowing all before them,” in The Economist (October 31, 2002), and “Palestinians and Native Americans” in Counterpunch (January 14, 2003), and even crazy home-made web pages like “Colonization and Resistance in North America and Palestine” (2002). These efforts to cast Israel in the mold of a colonial force against the “Palestinians” were loud, and I was piquantly offended. I wrote articles of response, as I mentioned earlier, beginning with a FrontPageMagazine piece on April 9, 2002, called “American Indians Aren’t Like Palestinians.” I’ve written numerous articles since, and published them on BadEaglel.com, my own web site.
I was particularly offended in January, 2007, when a group of so-called “Palestinians” actually dressed in pathetic, dime-store American Indian costumes to express their protest to the aggressions of the great Israel. (They were protesting road blocks!) The analogy is amiss. American Indians are not of some foreign race moved into a foreign country not theirs. We invaded no country. We later did fight a mighty invader, indeed. But we were never asked to go back to our native countries and leave America in peace. Moreover, we did not have billions of other American Indians in surrounding countries ready to come to our aid (or even to use us) and to ‘wipe America off the map.’ The analogy of “Palestinians” and American Indians is therefore preposterous, stupid, and reflects the superficial emotionalism of liberals. Liberals profess great sympathy for the poor Indians, and decry the horrible abuse of white America wreaked upon the Indians. Liberals use Indians as a symbol, a token of anti-Americanism, anti-patriotism, and anti-white racism, really. That Indians should be also used to support other political groups in the world who claim abuse, as if Indians are the universal mascot of the oppressed, is something I simply cannot tolerate. This places American Indians in the most pathetic, weak, and abject position possible, precluding us from any positive self-image, any development, and any real dignity in the world.
I don’t appreciate abuse of American Indians—especially when Indian images are being used to support specific political positions which I reject or despise. My whole purpose in public speaking and writing on political issues in America and in the world is to proffer American Indian history as an example of racial and national honor, not chauvinism, and least of all as a tool to support the antithesis of such. I believe in the preservation of race, nationhood, and honor. In the so-called “Palestinians,” I see no race, no nationhood, and no honor.
Dr. David Yeagley (1951-2014) was a twenty first century renaissance man. Armed with a doctorate in Music and a Master’s degree in Divinity, he attacked issues head on, paying little heed to those offended by his onslaughts. An author, political commentator, classical composer and biblical scholar, he was the conservative voice among American Indian intellectuals. An enrolled Comanche Indian and an avowed patriot, he railed against those he felt to be a threat to American liberty.
He had a special interest in Persian culture: He published articles on this subject and toured Iran. He was a Judeophile, often expressing his admiration for the Jewish people, the modern state of Israel, and the ancient land of the Bible.
He was a Bible scholar, posting on YouTube a series of five minute “Torah Shiurim,” (commentaries). When I mentioned to him a concern about a series of verses in the book of Samuel, he quickly brought together other verses which resolved the question.
He was intolerant of people who claimed special privilege based on past or contemporary raccial oppression. This earned him the enmity of liberal Indians and their supporters, who denied Yeagley’s authenticity as well as his facts. His harsh criticism of many black leaders and especially of their enmity towards American values brought charges of racism. Perhaps there was some truth to this. However, Yeagley also expressed profound admiration for black people who upheld American values, such as Allan West, Herman Cain, and Condoleeza Rice. He said of the latter “Sheer elegance is her draw, and class, to say nothing of intelligence, character, and consistency.”
He was also intolerant of people who tried to exploit Native American identity and culture. He ridiculed those who claimed the words “Redskin” or “Indian” to be demeaning, and carried both labels proudly. He denounced other ethnic groups who tried to latch on to past exploitation of Indians in order to advance the cause of their own victimization.
Dr. Yeagley had cancer in his youth. The radiation treatments resulted in Mesothelioma when he got older. I called him several times to inquire about his well-being, and he could barely catch his breath to say a few words. He was grateful when I told him my synagogue was including him in its prayers for the ill.
Alas, those prayers were insufficient, and he passed away on March 11, 2014. His essay on Palestinian attempts to exploit Indian identity reflects the depths of his scholarity, and the intensity of his passion. While he said much to offend, he said more to inform.
We don’t endorse everything that Dr. Yeagley has said during his life. Then again we don’t endorse everything the other contributors to this publication have said, either. We choose to let their essays included herein, including Dr. Yeagley’s, speak for themselves.