The problem with ‘occupation’ in the occupy movement

ActivismIsrael/PalestineUS Politics
on 57 Comments
Early indian map
Map of indigenous tribes, cultures and languages produced by the Smithsonian in 1967.
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

The momentum continues to build over Occupy Wall Street and other regional “Occupy” movements.  People concerned with losing their jobs and homes are converging with others whose interests lie in ending militarism abroad and police brutality at home, protecting the environment, and education.  Even as the movement swells, however, many who have long been at the fore of these struggles are once again alienated by this mass mobilization.

From Lenape land to Dakota to Ohlone – and places in between – the “Occupy” movements of Wall Street, Minnesota and Oakland (respectively) have effectively shut out the engagement of indigenous activists who would otherwise be involved.  While the term “occupy” may hold a sense of claiming liberated space for those who decided on the name, for others invested in the decolonization of indigenous lands it is an indication of the lack of self awareness of the settler mentality leading the movement.

Even while some indigenous activists are involved with the current movement, there are still many others who are alienated by it.  As JohnPaul Montano, Nishnaabe blogger, writes in An Open Letter to the Occupy Wall Street Activists

On September 22nd, with great excitement, I eagerly read your “one demand” statement. Hoping and believing that you enlightened folks fighting for justice and equality and an end to imperialism, etc., etc., would make mention of the fact that the very land upon which you are protesting does not belong to you – that you are guests upon that stolen indigenous land. 

Montano goes on to describe his disappointment when finding that no such acknowledgement was mentioned in the declaration. 

Similarly, other indigenous writers on the subject have asserted that, by not putting at its fore the politics of de-colonization, the “Occupy” movement is continuing the violence of occupation while posturing the politics of social justice for all. 

Just as the demographic of participation varies based on location, so does the awareness of and dialogue around white supremacy and imperialism.  Albuquerque took a departure from the established norm and uses “(Un)Occupy” as their name, in order to reflect a consciousness of First Nations’ struggles.  On November 18th in Santa Fe, a proposed Statement of Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples was brought to the General Assembly for adoption.  [It is unconfirmed at this time if the statement was ratified].  There is proof on the Chicago discussion forum at that there was concern about the name, but after October 29th there are no further comments.  That these instances of dialogue exist is hopeful; that there is no critical mass to provoke social change around white supremacy and imperialism, troubling. 

Some white activists complain that raising the issues of broken treaties and institutionalized racism is divisive, and deflects from the more “real” concerns of housing, poverty and education.  For indigenous people and people of color in this country, those real concerns are part and parcel of living in a society where economic disparity runs down color lines.  Indigenous people experience the highest rates of poverty, rape, and the lowest life expectancy of any ethnic group. 

If material concerns are placed at the core of a political framework, with racism and genocide seen as mere symptoms, then it becomes clear that the struggle prioritizes the welfare of white people.  This scenario has been played-out time and again: the newly under-privileged seize the reins of a long battle, steer it towards short-term goals, then disembark at the first sign of oasis — leaving the most marginalized to re-gain their footing for the continued struggle.  The question remains: Why, in a moment of global social uprising, do we limit our own impact by maintaining a status quo (read: white supremacy) within our movement?

One conclusion is that problems of internal cohesion in the face of police brutality prevent a framework to emerge that focuses on racism and genocide as systemic issues.  But as Dr. Waziyatawin, Dakota activist, scholar and writer, points out in her address to Occupy Oakland: the barriers to justice we face today are rooted in the brutality of colonialism.  In a graphic recounting of state and civilian violence by Dutch settlers against the Wappinger Confederacy and Hackensack Peoples during the initial occupation of “Wall Street”, she contextualizes for activists the legacy of this flawed system we live under:  “If you feel like you have been dispossessed, if you feel like you have been metaphorically ‘skinned alive’ by an inhumane system, remember that it is indigenous people who experienced that first on these lands”.  We can learn that, despite the day-to-day obstacles of maintaining a mass mobilization, the integrity of the movement – and therefore its success – must address the woes of capitalism via addressing imperialism first.

Montano concludes his article with four suggested demands for the “Occupy” movement to place on the U.S. government, ones that he says would initiate the needed steps towards “fixing” the path this movement is on: 

1) Acknowledge that the U.S. is a colonial country, a country of settlers, built upon the land of indigenous nations; and/or… 

2) Demand immediate freedom for indigenous political prisoner Leonard Peltier; and/or… 

3) Demand that the colonial government of the United States of America honor all treaties signed with all indigenous nations whose lands are now collectively referred to as the “United States of America”; and/or… 

4) Make some kind of mention that you are indeed aware that you are settlers and that you are not intending to repeat the mistakes of all of the settler do-gooders that have come before you. In other words, that you are willing to obtain the consent of indigenous people before you do anything on indigenous land. 

For people active in the Palestine liberation movement – as allies in solidarity or as Palestinians living in Diaspora – who are also engaged with the growing “Occupy” movement, I believe we can deepen our work by heeding this call.  We know that the colonization of Palestine was modeled after that of the U.S. and Canada.  We know that the reservation system here is a prototype for conditions of refugees in camps on the West Bank and the outdoor prison that is Gaza.  Most people versed in the origins of modern political Zionism know that Theodor Herzl was inspired by the methods used against indigenous peoples here. Moreover, it is the same economic and military institutions that enforce continued occupation of indigenous peoples, here and in Palestine. 

It’s easy to draw the connections between the occupation of Palestine and the colonization of lands on this continent, and the parallels seem endless.  Likewise, the continuity is strong when we respond to the 2005 BDS call from Palestinian civil society in conjunction with the demands for justice here.  Because of this, I urge those of us in the Palestine liberation and “Occupy” movements to take this stand: 

Just as we call on Israel to end its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantle the Wall, we too must call for Indigenous sovereignty over ancestral lands of this continent. 

Just as we call on Israel to recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, we must demand, and work for, the end of institutionalized racism in the U.S. and the end to continued acts of genocide towards indigenous people here. 

Just as we call for the Palestinian Right of Return, we call for the end to the reservation system on this continent – with the acknowledgement of and reparations for the hundreds of treaties broken by the United States government against indigenous nations.   

This moment in time holds the potential for real, systemic change.  With so many peoples’ struggles interconnected, the possibilities are great.  By broadening our scope to include everyone, we are able to hone-in more clearly on our targets: the end of imperialism, the return of lands to sovereign indigenous nations, and a life of health and dignity for all human beings and the planet.

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About Josina Manu Maltzman

Josina Manu Maltzman is an anti-Zionist Ashkenazi Jew who is active in the Palestine Solidarity Movement, and a supporter of indigenous struggle here on Dakota land and on occupied North America. Jo is a member of the Twin Cities chapter of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN-TC) and a participant in the Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign.

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57 Responses

  1. Avi_G.
    November 21, 2011, 2:24 pm

    I could be wrong, but this seems to be — dare I say — a calculated attempt to derail the struggle for human rights in Palestine.

    After all, the long-standing refrain in Israeli Hasbara has been that those who call on Israel to return land to the Palestinians ought to be calling on the United States to return its land to Native Americans. In doing so, Israeli Hasbara sought to influence and mislead average Americans to develop empathy for Israel’s position. Another implication of that Hasbara was that the Israeli takeover of Palestinian land was complete and over.

    So the question is, why must human rights in Palestine be thematically tied to the civil and human rights of Native Americans? Why can’t the two stand on their own within the Occupy movement without dissolving into a vague and broad notion of anti-colonialism?

    • Potsherd2
      November 21, 2011, 3:07 pm

      Because the root problem is colonialism. When Zionists criticize US activists because the US is also occupied territory, we have to admit it is the truth. Covering up and ignoring the truth is losing credibility.

      The question has to be – what are we doing about it? How are we redressing this wrong? We can’t demand of the Zionists what we are unwilling to do ourselves.

      • Charon
        November 21, 2011, 9:22 pm

        I wish we could do more. Native Americans are still second class citizens on their own land. Somebody will always find a way to say something to the contrary, but this is still relevant today. Pretend today that there was a one-state solution in Israel with reparations and a right of return. Now pretend that Israel had a soccer team called the ‘suicide bombers’

        That’s how the majority of Americans still treat the indigenous people, holding on to mythology over history. When Zionists say ‘we won the war’ remember that Americans say the same. America’s revolutionary war was to be independent from British taxation only to turn around and tax Americans. It’s a big joke, a huge like. Christopher Columbus is a Catholic hero except in reality he would cut native’s arms off if they didn’t bring back gold, leaving them to bleed till they died.

        This is used by Zionists to justify colonial actions in Palestine, but it’s not the same thing at all. Israel happened in modern history under laws intended to prevent such a thing as land annexation in conquest of war. When Israelis say “1967 borders? How about the US give back Texas” it’s a dumb thing to say because the Texans of Mexican origin would want to stay in the US. The Arab Israelis don’t want to be in a Palestinian state, but that’s not the same thing at all. Israel happened recently and uses our mistakes as an excuse. That’s BS

    • Dan Crowther
      November 21, 2011, 3:12 pm

      I was wondering the same thing……..

      Also, does anyone really think that the rank and file at the occupations don’t realize the US was a colonial project? I hate these litmus tests being imposed, its one thing to say “if person X thinks Y, he cannot be Z” its a totally different, and I think ridiculous to say, “If person X does not say Y, he cannot be Z”

      In short, if Josina and the indigenous activists she represents think that my definition of “freedom” and “equality” does not include them, even though I am calling for “freedom” and “equality” for ALL, that tells me they don’t see themselves as part of the “ALL” to which I say, FAH-Q.

      Im going to let Josina and Dr Waziyatawin in on a little secret: Justice, real justice, will never come to “indigenous people” it will only come to “people”, who happen also to be indigenous. Big Difference.

      • Newclench
        November 21, 2011, 3:39 pm

        ridiculous to say, “If person X does not say Y, he cannot be Z”

        Yep. I wonder if there is a name for this misleading rhetorical device of making judgements over what someone didn’t say.

      • Dan Crowther
        November 21, 2011, 4:15 pm

        I should make myself clear here – what I am advocating is universality; if i am opposed to one occupation, I am opposed to them all. I don’t need to run down the list. If I am against all economic exploitation, I don’t need to run down the list of the exploited and if I am against one form of racism, I am against all forms of racism.

        The language I hear from “occupiers” is the definition of universal. People mean “ALL” when they say it. I would say, after the “ALL” has been established, then let’s discuss what that means to us as individuals, and the full of shit amongst us will be found out. but first, let’s just once believe each other when we say, “ALL”

      • Charon
        November 21, 2011, 9:35 pm

        Thanks Dan, that’s a great way of saying it

        I was born here and had nothing to do with the actions of our colonial forefathers. I acknowledge their genocide of the indigenous people of the Americas. It’s sickening and shameful. I also think any modern attitudes keeping Native Americans as second class citizens is sickening and shameful.

        America’s colonial past is used to justify Israel’s modern-day colonization of Palestine which came about in a time when laws were in place to prevent it. It has the effect of silencing the masses. This isn’t even an apples to oranges. It’s apples to iphones. They sound similar but are not at all comparable.

        Also, the occupy protests are not the same as Israelis arguing over the price of cottage cheese while ethnic cleansing is going on just a few miles East either.

        If Israel treated the Palestinian territories the way Native American reservations are treated, they would have a bi-national one-state solution instead of Apartheid. In such a hypothetical scenario, if there was an ‘occupy Tel-Aviv’ and the Palestinians were saying it was ironic considering they were occupied by Zionists for decades, it would be kind of the same thing in perspective. Yeah they were occupied, but that has nothing to do with it. Well it does because they are still occupied and there is no solution, but that’s another story

      • emi
        November 22, 2011, 3:37 am

        i don’t think these responses are being particularly fair to what jo and so many others are saying about the “occupy” language of occupy. and it’s unfortunate that this piece hasn’t generated more dialogue in the comments section. asking that movements in the u.s. consider and reflect our own history of injustice is, as potsherd says, part of the process of addressing the root problem of colonialism, which cannot be conveniently limited to a specific geographic area or period of decades. while we can all take refuge in the fact that we didn’t exist (and perhaps our families weren’t yet here) during the initial colonization of this continent or during slavery, white americans continue to benefit from those past injustices–how else can we explain how disproportionately crime, disease, poverty, etc affect people of color? for many of us, it might be easy to make the same argument about israel: i don’t personally live in israel and had nothing to do with the creation of that state, so why is it my problem? for those of us who feel compelled toward palestine solidarity work because of the role our country and/or religious community plays in supporting occupation and apartheid, the parallel to the perpetuation of injustice against communities of color in this country is pretty strong.

        and we must specifically name the peoples we are fighting with and for: when we say simply that we want justice for all people, how are people who have been historically excluded from this country’s definition of “all people” (or even “people”) supposed to know that we are including them? how else can they know that we want to learn of the injustices that affect them, and struggle alongside them?

        there’s also plenty of evidence that we are *not* including them or concerned with their demands. indigenous people, immigrants, and other people of color have written numerous online accounts of how their concerns have been marginalized in occupy spaces. while many great folks are working to create space for people of color and to center their struggles, we can’t deny that we’ve got a long way to go before occupy spaces are truly welcoming of and accountable to them. most of the responses to this posting further illustrate that either occupy, mondo, or dialogues about occupy on mondo are *not* welcoming to indigenous people (how can we be welcoming to indigenous people if we refuse to acknowledge the validity of their own demands for justice, or at the very least to engage with their specific demands on the merits?).

        and as for the idea that bringing up our own history of colonialism is simply a hasbara tactic–potsherd’s right. that’s hypocritical, and we lose credibility when we claim that israelis must address their own occupation and apartheid practices, while we in the us have nothing left to learn or address along the same lines. and why wouldn’t we want to address these injustices as they manifest here? isn’t ending all forms of oppression against all peoples a part of our vision for the future? furthermore, when we reduce the demands of a deeply oppressed people to pr work for a foreign government, we yet again invizibilize a people who, much like palestinians, have suffered cultural erasure and silencing in order to build and preserve the mythology of a colonial project.

        a similar logic to this “hasbara tactic” argument is currently being used against many frequenters of this blog: we are told that a dialogue about palestine has no place in the occupy movement, which is focused on domestic issues that are more pressing than something happening in the middle east. we are told that to “push” a dialogue about palestine can only serve to divide the occupy movement and distract from the “real” issues. but many on this blog have defended dialogues about palestine in occupy spaces, and i don’t understand why those same arguments don’t apply to dialogues about indigenous peoples here in the u.s.

      • Dan Crowther
        November 22, 2011, 8:51 am


        When you say the “process of addressing the root problem of colonialism,” you make it seem like colonialism itself might not be so bad, but that it has some inherent flaws, and this is what needs to be “addressed.” I think you will be hard pressed to find anyone on this thread saying anything other than “colonialism is DISGUSTING, and has always been a feature of state CAPITALISM.” Full Stop.

        You seem to want to lay colonialism at the door of race, ethnicity and religion. In doing so, you make the case that- in this case- the Indigenous people in what is now America were killed, ethnically cleansed and robbed of their land because of their SPECIFIC race, ethnicity, religion etc And that the colonizers did this because of their specific race, ethnicty, religion etc. .But how can this be true if there have been colonial efforts all over the world, colonizing completely disparate people with totally different pretexts?

        The point I was making is that the “offical OWS” is indeed sorely lacking in statements of solidarity for different people and their issues, there is no doubt about it. But, as someone who has been to many GA’s here in Boston, I can say that the “official” statements and declarations have fuck all to do with the opinions, views and beliefs of those in the crowd.

        And I would also say, as consolation, look at the meek language the official OWS movement has used to criticize the institution of state capitalism. It’s a joke. Searching for “official” representation in the OWS movement, to me, is a futile endeavor, all you would be doing is gaining representation in a identity based capitalist reform movement. Among the rank and file, there is real solidarity, I would say a radical solidarity, and indigenous people need to be involved; not as living artifacts, but as people who can state plainly what capitalism has meant, and it what it will continue to mean. This is much more powerful than “free leonard peltier.”

      • emi
        November 22, 2011, 11:05 am

        hmm. i think this is a problem of my phrasing. perhaps “the root problem, which is colonialism” would have been clearer language. my intention there was to affirm what potsherd had said–that the us and israel share this same root problem. race and racism have been tools of colonialism.


        i don’t think folks like jo are simply asking for people to say “free leonard peltier.” i think that was an example of ways in which occupy movements can create space for indigenous people–hopefully such an engagement would not involve merely adopting a few words, but instead a broader program of learning from one another and honing our broader analyses.

        as for the crowds, yes–i think there’s a lot of reason to be hopeful and excited. there’s also a lot of reasons to push ourselves to expand our analyses to include indigenous peoples who are struggling for self-determination around the world. we’re all learning all the time, and i expect that at just about every occupy across the country folks would really benefit from deepening their understanding of our colonial history, how it continues to shape the world we live in, and how we as movements can work to undo some of that damage.

      • emi
        November 22, 2011, 11:11 am

        writing from my phone–that posted too soon.

        i can’t help but feel that there’s a little deliberate misunderstanding in your response–you suggest that i’m limiting colonialism to the specific race(s) of indigenous peoples of the americas, but why would that be what i’m saying, when i’m pointing out the parallels between colonialism here and in palestine? and if so many in occupy hare this analysis, then why are folks dismissive of what jo is saying here, or when these issues are raised in occupy spaces? it’s not enough to say the official movement’s wishy-washy but the folks in the crowd are alright. if we do believe that colonialism and capitalism and racism are disgusting, we make space for the people who are at the heart of those struggles, instead of oversimplifying and dismissing what they’re saying, deciding for them that it’s a lost cause, and moving right along.

      • Dan Crowther
        November 22, 2011, 1:01 pm

        I didn’t mean to deliberately misunderstand you, I might have misunderstood you, but that is only a fault of mine, not an intentional slight.

        “as for the crowds, yes–i think there’s a lot of reason to be hopeful and excited. there’s also a lot of reasons to push ourselves to expand our analyses to include indigenous peoples who are struggling for self-determination around the world. we’re all learning all the time, and i expect that at just about every occupy across the country folks would really benefit from deepening their understanding of our colonial history, how it continues to shape the world we live in, and how we as movements can work to undo some of that damage.”

        I completely agree with this. This is totally uncontroversial.

        “and how we as movements can work to undo some of that damage.”

        Again, this is something that I think all involved in the ‘occupy movement’ would endorse. But I would say that “work” in the context of getting the bourgeois “leadership” of the movement to adopt language that suits “indigenous people” is again, futile. Not for any other reason than the REAL movement, the movement OF THE PEOPLE is much, much different than what is represented “officially” by OWS. OWS as it is today, is a capitalist enterprise. How can you expect real criticism’s of the system from those that only want to “make it better for everyone?” It’s “Reform or Revolution” as Rosa Luxemburg wrote; and unfortunately, it seems that many are still under the impression that they can be “represented” at Reform’s table. They can’t. But, at Revolution’s table……….

        My basic point remains the same: (as stated above)

        Im going to let Josina and Dr Waziyatawin in on a little secret: Justice, real justice, will never come to “indigenous people” it will only come to “people”, who happen also to be indigenous. Big Difference.

      • jcshooter
        November 25, 2011, 2:33 pm


  2. dumvitaestspesest
    November 21, 2011, 3:43 pm

    Here is very good article that explains the reasons of the current “global debt crisis”, and why it will get much worse” in the months and years to come”.
    Not an enjoyable reading, but it explains clearly ,who and how created the problem, how the problem is being kept alive, and what it is ahead of us.

    “The Money Masters: Behind the Global Debt Crisis
    by Adrian Salbuchi

    “In the US, we see untold millions suffering from the impact of mass foreclosures and unemployment; in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and Italy, stringent austerity measures are imposed upon the whole population; all coupled with major banking collapses in Iceland, the UK and the US, and indecent bail-outs of “too-big-to-fail” bankers (Newspeak for too powerful to fail).
    No doubt, the bulk of the responsibility for these debacles falls squarely on the shoulders of caretaker governments in these countries that are subordinated to Money Power interests and objectives. In country after country, that comes together with embedded corruption, particularly evident today in the UK, Italy and the US.
    As we assess some of the key components of today’s Global Financial, Currency and Banking Model in this article, readers will hopefully get a better understanding as to why we are all in such a crisis, and that it will tend to get much worse in the months and years to come.
    Foundations of a Failed and False Model
    Hiding behind the mask of false “laws” allegedly governing “globalised markets and economies,” this Financial Model has allowed a small group of people to amass and wield huge and overwhelming power over markets, corporations, industries, governments and the global media. The irresponsible and criminal consequences of their actions are now clear for all to see…………………”

    • Keith
      November 21, 2011, 6:12 pm

      DUMVITA- The article you linked to is excellent and I highly recommend it for all Mondoweissers. I do, however, take some exception to the demonization of fractional reserve banking. In a private system, there is literally no alternative to creating money in controlled amounts. There would, of course, be no such problem in a public banking system. A couple of points need emphasis. First, modern capitalism is all about financial control, not ownership of production. Second, globalization is primarily about extending financial control, a form of financial warfare leading to debt peonage for the majority. Finally, the system depends upon continual growth to service the compounding interest built into our debt-based monetary system. In regards to the occupy movement, hopefully they are aware or becoming aware that our modern society is a money controlled society, and that our current difficulties are a direct consequence of a privately controlled predatory financial system. A couple of quotes to emphasize some key points.

      “We are completely dependent on the commercial banks. Someone has to borrow every dollar we have in circulation, cash or credit. If the banks create ample synthetic money we are prosperous; if not, we starve. We are absolutely without a permanent money system…. It is the most important subject intelligent persons can investigate and reflect upon. It is so important that our present civilization may collapse unless it becomes widely understood and the defects remedied very soon.” ( Robert H. Hemphill of the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank)

      “We are ruled not by governments anymore but by financial powers that use interest-bearing debt to exert control over governments, corporations, and people. Almost all other political issues with which we concern ourselves are secondary symptoms of or purposeful distractions from this larger narrative that is never reported by the Wall-Street-funded media.” (Damon Vrabel)

    • Sand
      November 22, 2011, 11:30 am

      I agree, this should be the focus. The money trail and those who manage it, protect it, and definitely profit from it.

    • Chu
      November 22, 2011, 6:32 pm

      good material…

  3. radii
    November 21, 2011, 4:41 pm

    I’ve contacted the Occupy “leaders” many times to urge them to greatly improve their messaging – which is terrible.

    They obviously should shift entirely to the 99% name and come up with a coherent agenda and plan-of-action, but their commitment to “decentralized, non-hierarchical” mumbo-jumbo-nonsense has really hampered them from evolving this public anger into anything meaningful – the hippy-weirdos took it over and responsible adults with some political acumen need to assert themselves to broaden the movement with their first agenda item to win over the union cops who are currently busting their heads as mercenaries for the bankers

    • American
      November 23, 2011, 11:20 pm

      “responsible adults with some political acumen need to assert themselves to broaden the movement with..”

      Scumbags posing as responsible adults are the ones that created this mess.
      Ever seen a bigger group of self serving riff raft and mental midgets than what passes for responsible adults in our leadership and society today?
      I haven’t.

  4. dumvitaestspesest
    November 21, 2011, 7:43 pm

    There were some massive demonstrations in Japan within the least few weeks.
    It looks like the MainlySh*t*yMedia , however ,didn’t report them.
    Even Japanease MSM didn’t say anything about a huge demonstrations (about 60 000 people), that took place in Tokyo recently.
    A silent cooperation between all politicians and their obedient, well paid servant/accomplice, MSM , exists in majority of the countries.
    Here is an article on the subject . It is in Polish ,but there are some interesting photos and you tube movies in English.

  5. Richard Witty
    November 22, 2011, 6:50 am

    We are ALL immigrants.

    ALL Native American tribes were immigrants. ALL Palestinians were immigrants. ALL Israelis were immigrants. ALL white Americans were immigrants.

    Almost all native Americans have inter-married, inter-married with whites, blacks, others, inter-married between tribes. Tribes warred with other tribes and “colonially” displaced other tribes, or massacred, or merged.

    “This is native land” is a false and expropriative statement. It is more Zionist than Zionism.

    It is an accurate and honorable statement to state “Mohawk lived here immediately before us and we honor their relation and their teaching.”

    By indigenous rather than colonial, the only accurate meaning is “we were here longer”.

    But, that leaves the homeless as permanently so, unless they “know their place”.

    Universalism is not “consistent resentment of all immigration”.

    Even anti-colonialism is nowhere near universalism. Universalism is consistent acceptance of all people, and in the present.

    • Chaos4700
      November 22, 2011, 9:32 am

      ALL Native American tribes were immigrants.

      Just how far are you going to go to justify ethnic cleansing? I can’t type any more, I’m definitely going to say something that won’t pass moderation.

    • eljay
      November 22, 2011, 10:07 am

      >> Universalism is consistent acceptance of all people, and in the present.

      Funny stuff, coming from a fraudulent “humanist” who:
      – advocates a religion-supremacist “Jewish state”, a state which confers a special status to Jews above all other citizens; and
      – sees nothing wrong with excising non-Jewish Israelis from their homeland and stripping them of their citizenship, as required, in order to preserve a Jewish majority in Israel (” … I personally don’t see a conflict with intentionally adjusting boundaries if the demographics change considerably to create a smaller Israel that is Jewish majority.”).

    • Keith
      November 22, 2011, 1:05 pm

      WITTY- “Universalism is consistent acceptance of all people, and in the present.”

      Tribalism is incompatible with universalism. Zionism is incompatible with the values you profess to believe in.

    • yourstruly
      November 22, 2011, 1:31 pm

      nice try, equating the mohawk’s ten thousand or so years here to that of us mostly european descendents who’ve been here for, at most single digit generations. easy to read through, though – what “holds” for the mohawk must also hold for the jewish zionist settlers who’ve been in palestine for at most 4-5 generations, compared to the 40-50 generations that the indigenous palestinians have been in residence. no such thing as indigenous people (or we’re all indigenous)? wasn’t that what the french colons claimed in algeria, the dutch/english afrikaners in south africa, the portuguese in mozambique? sorry, but that concoction didn’t work in those colonial settings and it ain’t gonna work in zionist colonized palestine.

      • Richard Witty
        November 23, 2011, 5:30 pm

        You can’t honor Mohawk’s life by regarding land as permanently Mohawk. That is a violation of “ALL my relations” in favor of “some of my selected relations”.

        The reasoning of “we were always here, YOU weren’t”, is a fascist theme more than a progressive theme.
        Similarly for Palestinians of for Jews.

        It indicates an utter failing in the anti-colonialist theme of politics (especially when applied hypocritically).

        There is A point to addressing colonial relations. To exagerate relations to the status of the only or even most important component of relationship, or rights, is an abuse of justice, rather than an affirmation of justice.

      • annie
        November 23, 2011, 5:56 pm

        “we were always here, YOU weren’t”, is a fascist theme

        huh? not if it’s true.

      • Richard Witty
        November 23, 2011, 9:40 pm

        Name ONE case in which it is true, in which the community was not the subject of migration, intermarriage, changing association?

        There are only two communities that resided as coherent communities (migrant) for longer than an ice-age cycle: The Australian aborigines and a few communities of Afticans.

        ALL others migrated to respond to glacial climate change, natural disasters (floods, famines), and war.

        EVERY people. Palestinian, Jewish, every African, every Native American, every Asian.

        Even if the idea had compelling and consistent merit as a statement, it IGNORES the much much more important democracy in the present.

        There is NO progressive basis for suppressing the self-governance of current residents, anywhere.

        Compare the anti-colonial vision to the vision of the Statue of Liberty : “Send me your tired, you poor, yearning to be free…”

        I will not walk in perpetual shame, and I will not ask that others walk in perpetual shame.

        I will honor those that have come before me, family, intellectual community, neighbors.

        NEITHER the Palestinian nor the Zionist claim to have “always been here” is a legally valid claim, for its innaccuracy and for its reactionary sentiment.

        And, for its hypocrisy when stated by proponents or solidarity.

      • James North
        November 23, 2011, 10:22 pm

        Richard Witty said, ‘My longwinded, planetary survey above can be boiled down to a single sentence:
        The Israelis who have violated international law by settling on the West Bank are simply “migrants,” who should be left alone to stay on the land they stole.’

      • RoHa
        November 23, 2011, 11:10 pm

        “There is NO progressive basis for suppressing the self-governance of current residents, anywhere.”

        But of course, you do not agree with the idea that self-governance is for residents. You want to make it self-governance of “ethnic communiites”.

      • annie
        November 23, 2011, 11:35 pm

        I will not walk in perpetual shame, and I will not ask that others walk in perpetual shame.

        bbbllllaalalalawhawaw, is it abraham lincoln? martin? kennedy? ella barker? no…drumroll please! it is our very own richard witty standing up for zio colonialist apartheid! free the colonialists! free them to plunder so that we may all be free!

      • Richard Witty
        November 24, 2011, 7:13 am

        Its a lame deflection, North, Annie.

        This was a discussion of anti-colonialism, which I described as a bankrupt basis of primary political definition.

        Title law is valid, self-governance is valid.

        “We were always there” is invalid, whether stated by any community’s exclusive historical right theme.

        And, I’m very much hoping that you will take in how reactionary that theme is.

      • eljay
        November 24, 2011, 7:50 am

        >> RW: There is NO progressive basis for suppressing the self-governance of current residents, anywhere.

        This is why RW supports a non-progressive basis like the “bureaucratic ethnic cleansing” of non-Jewish Israelis from their own country – stripping them of their citizenship and rendering them stateless – should they become a demographic “problem”:
        >> RW: I personally don’t see a conflict with intentionally adjusting boundaries if the demographics change considerably to create a smaller Israel that is Jewish majority.

        Such a “humanist”…

      • Cliff
        November 24, 2011, 8:40 am

        Dick Witty says:

        Colonialism is ok if Jews are the ones doing the colonizing. If Palestinians employ BDS, only after 45 years of apartheid, occupation and colonialism inflicted on them by Zionism, then they are oppressing Israelis (Jews).

        I support ethnic cleansing opportunistically in the past and colonialism in the present while issuing lame meaningless platitudes like ‘we’re all immigrants’ to whitewash my own racism, double standards, hypocrisy and fundamentalism. I am not a liberal, I am a Zionist.

        Recently, a French consul and his family were injured in an Israeli air strike on Gaza. The French consul’s wife lost her baby due to miscarriage as a result of the bombing. This Israeli recklessness led to this tragedy. Yet, I said nothing in that article on MW.

        Instead I chastises Phil and Adam for not condeming Hamas rocket fire.

      • Richard Witty
        November 24, 2011, 10:45 am

        You think that I am saying that exploitation and opportunistic forced removal of a civilian population is acceptable?

        I’m saying the oppossite, nearly 180 degrees.

        The “anti-colonial” “we were always here” theme is a lie. NOONE was “always here”.

        Neither Zionist nor Palestinian.

        And, that the urge to deny individual minorities of any stripe, in any locale, is primarily a fascist theme, more than a progressive one.

        That Norman Finkelstein uses the term “anti-colonialism” as primary political criteria, does not change the fact that Mussolini also did.

      • James North
        November 24, 2011, 12:56 pm

        Richard Witty said, ‘More sophistry from me, complete with one of my usual grammatical errors:

        NOONE was “always here”.

        Neither Zionist nor Palestinian.

        ‘Here I try and equate Palestinians, who have been living in Palestine for many centuries, with European Jews, who started arriving in the area a century ago. I’m justifying recent and ongoing Israeli land-stealing, and I’m slandering the people who condemn it as “fascist.”
        ‘It’s funny: I don’t seem to be urging Mondoweiss visitors to “humanize the other” and “make the better argument” any more. These days I’m more nasty than my ally, 3e.’

      • Mooser
        November 24, 2011, 1:06 pm

        “These days I’m more nasty than my ally, 3e.”

        James North, where are your finer feelings, the compassion learned at Mother’s knees, the memory of those first lisping prayers in a little sailor suit?
        James, don’t you know it’s only humane to avoid taunting a man who is so obviously in a jealous snit? Hades, I may remind you, has no fury like a half-wit scorned.

      • American
        November 24, 2011, 1:51 pm

        “The “anti-colonial” “we were always here” theme is a lie. NOONE was “always here”.”

        What the hell witty does that have to do with the zios stealing land from people who were most definitely’ there’.

      • Richard Witty
        November 25, 2011, 5:23 am

        “We are BOTH here now”, is a progressive vision.

        “We were always here, and only we have the right to be here”, is a reactionary vision.

        American in particular (for your namesake),
        Do you get how the American vision of progressive invitation is radically different than the reactionary theme of ‘we were always here, you are excluded, and nothing can be changed’.

        There is a reactionary traditional view of “everything must remain the same as it was”. And, there is a progressive traditional view of “the present is the cutting edge, of all that came before”.

        Any traditional view honors the predecessors. It does not ignore the past, but instead learns and applies its learning in the present.

        But, any traditional view that seeks to retain a racial basis of exclusion, an ethnic basis of exclusion, is a reactionary one.

        “What the hell witty does that have to do with the zios stealing land from people who were most definitely’ there’.”

        My view assumes that theft of land title remains legal mud (unreliable title) until perfected (shift from contested to consented).

        But, that sovereignty is derived and rests in consent of the governed, the present governed.

        That logic results in the rejection of BOTH Zionist expansionism (but not “enough Israel”), and the rejection of Palestinian/Arab/Islamic privileged nationalism.

        A liberal vision. An American vision.

  6. eee
    November 22, 2011, 11:46 am

    So basically Americans have no leg to stand on when criticizing Israel and its foundation.
    Same goes for Australians. But picking on the little guy is so much easier than fixing your own wrongs, isn’t it?

    • lysias
      November 22, 2011, 12:14 pm

      But picking on the little guy is so much easier than fixing your own wrongs, isn’t it?

      Ending the aid our government gives to Israel — as well as the diplomatic support in the UN — would be fixing one of our wrongs.

    • Chaos4700
      November 22, 2011, 12:15 pm

      I’m confused. Are you condemning Israel’s extermination of the Palestinians as wrong, or are you praising the US and Australia for having exterminated their natives a century ago, give or take?

      • Woody Tanaka
        November 22, 2011, 12:46 pm

        “I’m confused. Are you condemning Israel’s extermination of the Palestinians as wrong, or are you praising the US and Australia for having exterminated their natives a century ago, give or take?”

        eee appears to have genocide envy to me.

      • eee
        November 22, 2011, 12:50 pm

        Of course you are confused. When you call Israel a “vile state” but don’t call the US or Australia such names, it shows you are confused. In fact neither are.

      • Woody Tanaka
        November 22, 2011, 1:39 pm

        “Of course you are confused. When you call Israel a ‘vile state’ but don’t call the US or Australia such names, it shows you are confused.”

        Chaos didn’t call Israel a vile state, I did.

        And it is easy to draw a distinction between the US and Australia on the one hand, and Israel on the other, in that the former have taken (albeit belated and insufficient) steps to integrate their indigenous populations and provide them with the full civil, political and human rights they deserve.

        By contrast, your vile state has arbitrarily, on the basis of ethnicity, refused to provide civil, political and human rights to fully half of the population of your de facto state. (And you have the nerve to state that you are acting in a civilized fashion. So much for Israeli “civilization.”)

      • Chaos4700
        November 22, 2011, 1:54 pm

        The United States over one hundred years ago was a vile, immoral place, yes. Native Americans were being slaughtered left, right and center, Chinese immigrants were being used as virtual slave labor and African Americans were struggling to get even basic recognition as human beings.

        What the United States was over a century ago, eee? That’s what Israel is today.

        And for the record, if it matters, I do think Israel is a vile state, too.

      • yourstruly
        November 22, 2011, 2:09 pm

        the issue of the continued colonization of the indigenous people in america is going to surface within the occupy movement, and there’ll go one of the zionist’s main arguments – “hey, hypocrits, clean up your colonial enterprise before attacking ours.” their fall back position? why of course, “what about the kurds, the tibetans?” yes, these are areas of great concern, but right now, with justice for palestine on center stage, and with one great victory what it’ll take to change the world, how counterrevolutionary it would be to suddenly switch the conversation from palestine to somewhere else, given that time’s running out (what with perpetual war + global warming = doomsday), and how long it takes to get the public’s attention on the plight of oppressed peoples – but liberate palestine & watch the dominoes fall

      • American
        November 23, 2011, 11:33 pm

        Poor eee…..

        Listen eee, we are adopting the zionistas tactic……whatever we say about Israel is true just because we say so.
        Got a problem with that?
        In fact I think we anti’s need to start talking nonsense, claiming whatever we want, never offering proof or evidence of what we say, would have the zionist flabbergasted,stymied…..they’d be yelling “no fair!…..we’re the only ones who say just because we say so!” LOL

    • Potsherd2
      November 22, 2011, 12:40 pm

      Wrong, eee. It is because we recognize this wrong in our own past that we know to condemn it in Israel’s present.

    • eljay
      November 22, 2011, 1:33 pm

      >> So basically Americans have no leg to stand on when criticizing Israel and its foundation. Same goes for Australians. But picking on the little guy is so much easier than fixing your own wrongs, isn’t it?

      Ah, yes, why halt ON-GOING rapes when so many other rapists continue to evade justice for their crimes. Oh, wait, I know why: “the PRESENT is what matters!”

    • Potsherd2
      November 22, 2011, 1:44 pm

      Here’s how you start, eee:

      The bill contains an “apology to Native Peoples of the United States.”

      The multi-year effort to pass the language was bipartisan: Sens. Sam Brownback (R., Kan.) and Byron Dorgan (D., N.D.) led the campaign, which began in 2004. President Barack Obama signed the language, apparently the first official apology to Native Americans, into law on Monday.

      Congress has previously approved apologies to Japanese-Americans interned during World War II, and to native Hawaiians for the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom. The House and Senate recently have passed different resolutions apologizing for slavery in the U.S.

      The just-approved language says, in part, that “the United States, acting through Congress…recognizes that there have been years of official depredations, ill-conceived policies, and the breaking of covenants by the Federal Government regarding Indian tribes.”

      The U.S. “apologizes on behalf of the people of the United States to all Native Peoples for the many instances of violence, maltreatment, and neglect inflicted on Native Peoples by citizens of the United States,” the statement says, adding that it is committed “to move toward a brighter future where all the people of this land live reconciled as brothers and sisters, and harmoniously steward and protect this land together.”

      First, you admit that you’ve done wrong to others. Better late than never. Has Israel done that? Or does Israel refuse to acknowledge the word “Naqba?”

      Then, you say you’re sorry.

      Then, you make reparations to those you wronged. The US still has some way to go on that. But Israel isn’t even up to the first step. Israel is still committing the wrongs.

  7. Mooser
    November 22, 2011, 1:05 pm

    Very often, when I am solving a problem or fixing something, I start with the most recent and evident mistakes, and only later can I clean up every last ever-loving defect.
    Why wouldn’t movement towards justice for Palestinians point the way and assist every other movement?
    It’s not often that fixing a more recent problem (Palestine) will prevent or even impede fixing any other problems (Native Americans, or the rest of the world)

    What is so evident, what shines through all that reasoning with the brightness of a thousand garbage-fires is the fear that any movement towards fixing any one of those situations of historic injustice will accelerate the process of justice.

  8. kma
    November 22, 2011, 1:19 pm

    it’s hard for us to fathom, but try this: indigenous cultures we displaced see humans as the ‘lowest’ life form and all that comes before us as worthy of utmost respect. in the big picture, our destructive culture is not able to continue, but theirs is. so really, we are part of their ‘99%’ rather than the other way around! in fact, I’d say if the movement were broad enough to realize that we have to look to indigenous people as key to our collective survival, it would be the 100%.

    our money is false; our laws are false; our idols are false, and our culture of individualism and ownership is the root of what is so clearly failing right now. to change those things is only to tweak the system. when we give those things up and look directly to each other for our needs (and of the planet) we will make real progress. it should be trivial to agree with the indigenous requests because we are not struggling to include them; they are struggling to include us.

  9. dumvitaestspesest
    November 22, 2011, 1:38 pm

    How we can change the world, if we can barely control our own wants and haves, our selfishness, laziness, desires and weaknesses ??
    There is this ugly, monstrous “pig” inside each of us, that needs to be kicked everyday ,so it does not overpower us, our hearts/minds/souls with its lowest temptations. Many feed this “pig” with their own flesh and blood, with their thoughts, words and actions to make sure, it does not get any smaller.
    How can we change the world?
    The world is already changed. Not for the better.

    • john h
      November 23, 2011, 7:47 pm

      How can we change the world?

      The answer is in a song:

      I’m starting with the man in the mirror
      I’m asking him to change his ways
      And no message could have been any clearer
      If you wanna make the world a better place
      Take a look at yourself and then make that change

      The Man in the Mirror

      The result must affect some in key leadership so they too change. Gorbachev and De Klerk are examples.

  10. Chu
    November 22, 2011, 1:54 pm

    “From Lenape land to Dakota to Ohlone – and places in between – the “Occupy” movements of Wall Street, Minnesota and Oakland (respectively) have effectively shut out the engagement of indigenous activists who would otherwise be involved. “

    How they have been shut out? If it’s due to the social segregation of the culture that is a valid point, but are you implying something else? It’s a bit vague on an important part…

  11. Mooser
    November 23, 2011, 6:12 pm

    Ho-kay! I got it now! I am au currant and raisan my sights to the heights of Zionist eeepistomology! And here it is:

    ‘The problems of the Zionists must be solved by the world, right now! Anything else is anti-semitism! Any problems caused by the Zionists cannot even be discussed until every other problem in the world is solved! To do otherwise is, you guessed it, anti-Semitism!’

    Zionist dinner parties must be very easy on the host and hostess. Everybody is so self-serving.

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