Zionism: An Indigenous Struggle

Aboriginal Americans and the Jewish State

Nathan Elberg

Machla Abramovitz

Zionism: An Indigenous Struggle is an anthology of articles examining the relationship between Native American and Jewish issues, focusing on Palestinian attempts to hijack the Native American struggle for rights andrecognition into the framework of Palestinian suffering. Native Americans are often viewed as the quintessential victims, having suffered genocide, theft of lands and consequent marginalization. Similarly, Palestinians are cast as victims of colonialism and oppression. Getting in the way [of this post-modernist narrative] is that many Native Americans aren’t interested in perpetually playing the victim. 

Moreover, while they may have been downtrodden in the past, they don’t want that reality to define their future. Increasingly, Native Americans want to make their own lives, according to their definitions. Their voices, Aboriginal and those straddling Jewish and Aboriginal worlds, shed light on the connection between land and identity, as well as the individual and collective struggle to remain true to one’s sense of self within an even larger collective framework, especially considering darker forces out to hijack another’s identity and strugglefor political purposes. 

Among the issues discussed: How is one’s indigenous connection to a land expressed? For many Jews, it is by reclaiming their ancestral land after centuries of exile. Despite the political turmoil greeting Jews in their land, which remains a constant struggle, the land welcomed these early pioneers back with openarms. Its deserts bloomed; and its democracy—open and free, yet decidedly Jewish—blossoms. Israel’s need to integrate an ancient culture with the everevolving needs of a modern society remains a constant challenge. Within its multicultural society, issues of identity persist not only in the political sphere but the religious and cultural ones, as well. Despite these challenges, Israelis retain a strong sense of identity born of a deep-rooted religious culture and value system realized in its fullest on the fertile soils of their ancestral homeland.