Recognizing the Rights of a «First People»
By Professor David Belhassen*
The twentieth century was at once the century of the great World Wars, the emancipation of man (and of women in particular), decolonization, and the recognition of legitimate rights to self-determination, independence and sovereignty, with the creation of “nation-states” that no one (or almost none) questioned the merits. However, it was also a century of disillusionment against nation-states and globalist and monolithic ideologies that claimed to encompass all humanity in a singular melting pot of “unifying thought”, wherein destiny was shared.
Today, even as it is recognized that the human being is free and the expression of this freedom implies a right to difference and necessarily entails a diversity of opinions, the right of ethnic groups is still not acknowledged. This trivial claim of an ethnic group to its linguistic particularism and to a sovereign political framework that I have called a state-ethnic group or by the neologism “Ethnétat” always provokes strong reticence or even bitter opposition.
Imprinted with the legacy of the 20th century, nation-states remain convinced of their ‘civilizing’ mission, which is supposed to counterbalance the much less glorious aspects of their former colonialism. But certain small peoples and small ethnic groups persist in refusing to exchange their identity for a universal consensus, whether it is called modernism or any other system aimed at unifying humanity under the same aegis.
These small peoples and ethnic groups do not consider “The Tower of Babel” As a calamity, but as a blessing. They do not want a world with 5 or 6 languages to “exchange”, but instead aspire to their linguistic particularism and the abundance of idioms. Against all expectations, they show their attachment to ancestral, ethnic and cultural values. They are ready to fight for their ideals, not only in the formerly colonized countries, but also in the very heart of Europe!
It is then that one discovers – with astonishment – that the unexpected can happen, and that peoples supposed to have disappeared for a long time still exist, even if most often in the state of shreds.
The idea of a resurrection of these ‘history-condemned’ peoples has made its way through the claims of the Bushmen Aborigines of Oceania, the ‘Natives’ Of Abya Yala (foolishly and abusively called “Amerindians”), Amazighs (Kabylia, Rif, Mzab, Azawad), Armenians, Basques, Bretons, Catalans, Corsicans, Dinkas, Inuit, Kurds, Kogis, Tamils, Tibetans, and many others.
And do not be deceived! There is no question for them of a simple claim to a local vernacular on a cultural background, “national”, homogeneous, and monolithic. It is indeed a political claim to return to the original identity rather than that imposed by their invaders. This is the manifestation of their refusal as to be vanquished, their refusal to accept the “verdict of the History” of the “winners” or to ‘espouse’ its values under the pretext of a military superiority of the latter, as if it necessarily implied a cultural and civilizing superiority.
It is also their refusal to see themselves as museum pieces, only good to serve as a basis for anthropological work. Finally, it is the refusal to find themselves bundled together in one and the same nation-state, itself born of colonialist predation and the dismemberment of territories conquered and occupied by the “great powers” of yesteryear.
These little peoples who literally “re-emerge from their ashes” generate a new conception of the world and a new ethic. For the first time, there is the possibility that humanity is no longer governed by the law of the strongest, but is now based on the right of the most just.
From this aspiration was born the notion of the first people (that is to say, of the people most recognized as having lived first upon the land, and hence their status as indigenous and indigenous) and their historical rights in the face of newcomers! And it is this concept of anteriority of historical rights which, in the 21st century, promises to overthrow “the world order”.
In the face of the predatory vision of the past, the music of the horn (the “shofar” in Hebrew, see illustration) of truth and historical justice sounds the right of indigenous peoples and ethnic groups to live and assume their freedom, destiny and their choice of existence, and to realize their right of ownership over their ancestral lands.
In order to deny and alienate this right, the nation-states of the conquering powers argue that it is difficult to determine who really is the first people in a country, and that ever since the time of “prehistory” there were “brews of peoples”. But this argument does not hold. For it is necessary to distinguish between what has happened over time in a natural and accepted way, through the flow of peaceful “prehistoric” migrations, of what has been done by force, violence, invasion, conquest, and deliberate attempts to crush an indigenous population in order to supplant it. You can not decently camouflage as “neighborhood conflicts” that which is in reality a brutal occupation and the submission of the population who lived there for the eternity of the times.
That is why the claim of a people first to recover its land and its identity, however distant and obscured, must no longer be ignored. These peoples and ethnic groups who aspire to historical justice refuse to start history after any conquest, because such a starting point immediately becomes a means of ‘naturalizing’ the conqueror.
And those who among the natives are so alienated by the conquerors that they identify with the values and identity of the executioners of their ancestors often impose their identity of borrowing on their brothers who remained faithful to their origin. As for those who are the descendants of invaders, they are encouraged to adopt indigenous culture and identity if they want to remain on the land on which they were born. Otherwise, they are free to join the region of the world where the foreign “civilization” they claim is indigenous.
It is true that in a world where the devious concept (called “modern” by its practioneers) of a nation-state, which claims to “unify” of heterogeneous populations, or even worse, to split a homogenous people into two state entities artificially according to colonialist “conjectures” and “contingencies”, all this still seems somewhat utopian.
But there is a point on the globe where a people has shown the way to this ‘utopia’. They reside in Israel, and are known as the Hebrew people. And yet, its liberating movement of the first people (the Hebrew Liberation Movement, unfortunately called “Zionism”), is not recognized as such. The whole world – including the Israelis themselves, impregnated and alienated by their Judaism – refuses to recognize this quality.
Why? Is it because the Hebrew Movement of Liberation is not only the first among the first peoples to reverse the course of history, but also the boldest in its demand for historical justice for a people that was robbed of its land? Is it because the very existence of the Hebrew people and the success of its return to the land of ancestors and the “resurrection” of its language, concretized by the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel, is of disgust to the colonialist, imperialist, predatory nation-states? Is it because it is a living reminder of the crimes perpetrated by these nation-states?
Is it in order to relieve themselves of their bad conscience that the nation-states have counter-attacked by means of a support to a “Palestinian people”, artificial and created from scratch by Islamic panarabism? And this, by questioning the status of the Hebrew people as a first people and undermining the historical and moral legitimacy of the State of Israel!
Is this why the Hebrew Liberation Movement – and its revolutionary demands – has been nanified and reduced to a “political solution to the Jewish question after the Shoah”?
Is it also for this purpose that the Hebrew ideals of justice and historical truth have been swept away from consciousness and replaced by pragmatism that is meant to be good, with its nauseating and lying slogan of “two states for two peoples”?
In any case, as the consciousness of the legitimacy of the claims of the first peoples gradually emerged, in the same breath hostility to the Hebrew Liberation Movement and slander against the State of Israel, increase exponentially. Even the other primitive peoples, alienated by the propaganda of the nation-states and that of their “protected” Palestinian Palestine, see Israel not as the fruit of a liberation struggle of a successful first nation, but as the last avatar of colonialism and imperialism of nation-states.
They therefore regard the struggle against Israel as the spearhead of the liberation of peoples and of the struggle for the overthrow of history. We see then in the most astonishing manner that Bretons and Basques patriots postponed their justified resentments against the French nation-state over the State of Israel which they accuse of all evils, and conversely “sympathize” in “fraternizing with the Palestinian cause”. While – paradoxically! – this “Palestinian cause” is in fact the spearhead of colonialist pan-Arabism which was the grave of many early peoples!
For in this theater of the absurd, if the Israelis are apprehended as conquerors, it is now the “Palestinian” who enjoy the status, if not of the first people, at least of people more anchored in the country than the Israelis. Theirs by right would then be the claim of historical justice unanimously demanded by the first peoples, instead of the Israelis.
How could such an aberration have occurred? And who is responsible for this reversal of status where one sees the descendant of the foreign colonialist occupier and the Palestinian-Arab colonist “inherit” the indigenous legitimacy, while the descendant of the indigenous Hebrews are recieved as “occupants” on their own land?
The fault lies, of course, with the colonialist nation-states, but also with the Israeli leaders themselves – trapped by their pragmatism and their Pharisaic Judaism – who have betrayed the Hebrew Liberation Movement. Instead of loudly proclaiming the revolutionary goals of the Hebrew Liberation Movement, they have left the colonialist powers to sidetrack their liberation movement and reduce it to alms “from a refuge for the Jews against anti-Semitism”.
Today is no longer a time for pragmatism: the state of Israel must return to the ideals and aspirations of the Hebrew Liberation Movement and brandish the torch of historical rights of the first peoples, that hara-kiri must not fall into infamy or to die slowly under the blows of the Umma panarabist-Islamic and its allies in this “objective”: Western nation states and the US Supernova of the Yankees.
* David Belhassen He was born in Tunisia in 1951, he is a Historian, a philologist and a linguist of the Hebrew language. He studied in Paris, but after the events of May 1968, he left France for Israel where he began his “return to earth”. He founded a collectivist agricultural commune in the Negev desert and, in parallel, participated in archaeological excavations. He published numerous articles in specialized journals, as well as critical works on Judaism, Christianity and Islam. He has directed several documentary and fiction films. He is the author of “Hate Now?” (The Difference, 2006) and “Israel, Love and Disappointment” (2013).