Winona LaDuke: ‘We can’t talk about Israel because we are Israel’

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 30 Comments

From activist and author Winona LaDuke on Facebook:

“…euro-americans in the United States can’t talk about Gaza, because we can’t talk about Israel. Because we can’t talk about the fact that the world is not suffering from a Israeli/Palestinian conflict, but that the world is suffering from the fact that Europe has never been able to deal with it’s ‘Jewish Question’ without some sort of intense barbarity and horror from the Inquisition to the Holocaust. And that Europe, in particular ‘Great’ Britain, the masters of divide an conquer ‘solved’ the problem by supporting the radical, terrorist, extremist Zionists and their mad plan to resettle the ‘homeland.’ We can’t talk about Israel because we can’t talk about Wounded Knee. Because we can’t talk about Sand Creek or Carlisle ‘Boarding School.’ Because we can’t talk about forced sterilization or small pox blankets or Kit Carson and his scorched earth policy in the Southwest. Because we have Andrew Jackson on our twenty dollar bill. Because we are one huge settlement on stolen land. We can’t talk about Israel because we are Israel.”

Nima Shirazi made a similar connection on Mondoweiss here.

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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30 Responses

  1. seafoid
    November 21, 2012, 11:43 am

    I think Winona LaDuke is a star. She’s up there with John Trudell in my opinion. Eloquent people who see the system for what it is and bring their unique cultural insight to the analysis

    Of course the US is Israel.

    link to northernsun.com

    • pabelmont
      November 21, 2012, 9:17 pm

      Winona LaDuke’s right as to history but (IMO) wrong as to American psychology. Americans do not talk or think or base judgments about/upon what we (or our ancestors or some other Americans’ ancestors) did to the Indians. Many recent immigrants to USA (from China, from Japan, from Korea, from Mexico, from Central America) do not even HAVE ancestors who “did in” the Indians. (Some recent immigrants are also victims of Columbus, Conquistadores, et al.)

      Anyhow, most Americans wre never taught and never learnt any history and don’t know the stuff that is burned into the consciousness of Winona LaDuke.

      And many American Jews do not know what every Palestinian knows (and what every Israeli should know). Though, of course, they should — IF they support Israel as over against the Palestinians (and in what other way does anyone support Israel?).

      So, in that case, why do Americans not talk about Israel? Hunh? What do you mean “Americans”, white man? WE HERE DO talk about Israel.

      The MSM and the politicians do not talk about Israel because of prejudice and money-mediated censorship executed at every level, but not necessarily by every person, inside MSM. Many reporters and editors must know what it takes to KEEP a job in a perilous industry. Remember what happened to Helen Thomas?

      Why do MSM not take out after the BANKS after 2008 and today (look at EU)? BANKS (not banks but BANKS) are very powerful, that’s why. As AIPAC is also powerful.

      We are, as a nation, quasi slaves to the big corporations just as black slaves were once actual slaves on great plantations in the American South, and actual often worked-to-death slaves of “grands blancs” in the “Saint Domingue” (Haiti) of Isabelle Allende’s marvelous book “Island Beneath the Sea”.

      Americans don’t refuse to see Israel’s crimes because they are aware (and in love with) Americas ancient crimes, or even America’s current crimes. No and no!

      Most Americans have decent impulses and rotten information. That’s what this web-site is all about and why it is necessary.

      • David Seaton
        November 23, 2012, 5:47 am

        Most Americans have decent impulses and rotten information. That’s what this web-site is all about and why it is necessary.

        I think you are right and that this is changing, slowly perhaps, but the change is gathering speed. And ironically, for this in great part, we can thank George W. Bush for starting two disastrous wars.

  2. LanceThruster
    November 21, 2012, 11:46 am

    MURDER as cover for THEFT is *not* SELF-DEFENSE

  3. American
    November 21, 2012, 12:27 pm

    Actually this is meaningless crap………I could explain why but it would take too long.
    Maybe someone else will feel like spending time on it.

    • Avi_G.
      November 21, 2012, 2:29 pm

      I understand what you’re saying. It whitewashes Israel’s crimes by using the age ol’ We all suck.

      • American
        November 21, 2012, 5:11 pm

        Avi_G

        Yea….and saying we “can’t talk” all about these things?…hell, we talk about everything she listed all the time right here.

      • aiman
        November 22, 2012, 5:46 pm

        Right on, American.

        Abortion, homosexuality, the death penalty, even the sacrosanct military budget can be discussed with some freedom. The extermination of native Americans can be admitted, the morality of Hiroshima attacked, the national flag publicly committed to the flames. But the systematic continuity of Israel’s 52-year-old oppression and maltreatment of the Palestinians is virtually unmentionable, a narrative that has no permission to appear. – Edward Said, 2000

        The last taboo is just a bit more fragile but hangs on very stern. I take Edward Said’s analysis over LaDuke’s ‘we all suck’ as Avi_G pointed out.

  4. Woody Tanaka
    November 21, 2012, 12:34 pm

    Absolutely right on. Winona LaDuke is a treasure.

    What always gets my goat is, as a result of all the things “we can’t talk about,” people who have no problem with racist use of Native names and imagery for sports teams and military (they usually tout themselves as being “anti-PC”) actually, with a straight face, think it’s okay because it’s being used to depict them as being “fierce” or “good fighters” or “strong” or other such racist, jingoist nonsense, without even being aware that that argument, itself, is highly racist.

    The reduction of a continent’s people to the single attribute in which they stereotypcially interacted with white people (“warrior”) is about as racist as it gets and it doesn’t become less so because one thinks that attribute is somehow a positive thing.

  5. upsidedownism
    November 21, 2012, 12:53 pm

    I’m not sure that i agree with Winona. The 19th century, blood and soil philosophies of race, separateness, imperialism, colonialism, apartheid and jim crowe have largely been abandoned by western states. (at least as ideals to be aspired to). People accept multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi racial societies as completely normal, in which the rights of colonizers do not trump the rights of indigenous peoples. Israel is the glaring exception to this rule; zionism is the last of the colonial blood and soil philosophies to still have life in it. Europe has given up nazism, fascism, pan-slavism, etc. Only in israel is the belief in an ethnarchic colonial state still widespread.

  6. bobsmith
    November 21, 2012, 12:58 pm

    And for an establishment piece echoing the same viewpoint, here is Walter Russell Mead’s “The New Israel and the Old.” Note especially the section titled “Settler States”:

    link to realclearpolitics.com

  7. MRW
    November 21, 2012, 1:23 pm

    Oh yes we can. We certainly can talk about Israel. We better.

    And not just because Israel uses the tu quoque argument incessantly to claim why it can do what it does, like Dennis The Menace terrorizing the neighborhood with a bully’s Uzi.

    Because we have to clean up our act. Forget history. Look at now: Drones without due process, murdering families and innocents, then claiming ‘oops’. An eviscerated habeas corpus. Offshore prisons where we won’t even release the established innocent for eight years. Zero accountability for those running the top of the public/private partnerships called banks who gamed the system, ran middle America’s savings into the ground, and now pound Congress and the Prez to do nothing about it and they meekly comply. Justice reduced to some-justice based on class and race (Michael Vick gets three years for dog abuse; Jon Corzine gets zip for stealing $1.x billion of customers’ money, openly admitted). A media class that can’t get out of the limo long enough to study how the August 15, 1971 change to a completely non-convertible fiat currency changed the course of what we can accomplish nationally, and why we aren’t realizing it (couldn’t explain it if the perk’s life depended on it). A Congress that spends over 50% of its time passing laws for and against foreign nations when 23 million people are under- or unemployed.

    So we can most certainly talk about Israel; their argument about the Indians is as diversionary as the fantasy of an Old testament real estate deed. We need to talk about Israel out loud to save ourselves from the neglect of what we once believed in, however imperfectly, but at least we made the effort and at one time had the freedom to talk about it.

    • seafoid
      November 21, 2012, 2:04 pm

      The other thing that links Israel and the US (apart from shining cities on hills and ethnic cleansing) is a legacy of brutal violence , straight from the colonial period.
      The whole of the American continent is rotted through with violence , a direct legacy of European colonisation. Mexico has a very bad dose as does Guatemala but the US leads the way in incarceration. Because US law for the poor is vindictive, another legacy. And your gun laws are nuts.

      • thetumta
        November 21, 2012, 6:58 pm

        “And your gun laws are nuts.” I think Hamas and other Palestinians would disagree. After all, Israel has the same position as you when it comes to the rights of the armed citizens of Palestine. How else does any population say “No”, seriously if they are defenseless?
        Hej!

    • RoHa
      November 21, 2012, 6:45 pm

      ” ran middle America’s savings into the ground ”

      Most of the world got screwed over – and is still being screwed over – by them because the banks and finance companies are international organisations.

  8. Henry Norr
    November 21, 2012, 3:56 pm

    Just by way of background, it may or may not be relevant that Winona La Duke’s mom was Jewish (née Betty Bernstein), and after her parents separated, it was the mom who raised Winona. From Wikipedia:

    Early life and education

    Winona (meaning “first daughter” in Ojibwe) LaDuke was born in Los Angeles, California, to Vincent and Betty (Bernstein) LaDuke. Her father, an Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) from White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, enrolled his daughter as a member of the tribe at an early age. As a young man, he had been an activist on treaty rights and tribal issues, particularly the loss of lands. The reservation was one-tenth of its original size, and the losses contributed to unemployment and other problems of its people. After his marriage, he worked as an actor in Hollywood, with supporting roles in Western movies, a writer and, by the 1980s, as a spiritual guru under the name Sun Bear.[1] Her mother was of Russian Jewish descent, and became an artist. They separated when Winona was five and her mother took a position as an art instructor at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, then a small logging town.[1] LaDuke grew up mostly in Ashland.[2]

    Both parents were activists; influenced by her father, LaDuke became interested in tribal issues early. She attended public school and was on the debate team in high school, placing third in a state competition as a senior. She went on to do her studies at Harvard, where she became part of a group of Indian activists. She graduated in 1982 with a degree in rural economic development.[1]

    LaDuke never lived at White Earth until after graduating from college. She went there without knowing the Ojibwe language or many people, and was not quickly accepted. She worked as principal of the high school on the White Earth Indian Reservation in Minnesota. At the same time, she was doing research for her master’s thesis on the reservation’s subsistence economy and quickly became involved in local issues. She completed an M.A. in Community Economic Development at Antioch University.[1]

  9. Philip Munger
    November 21, 2012, 4:47 pm

    I’ll take your bait, American.

    I’ve been following and writing about Ms. LaDuke for a long, long time. Most recently, I wrote an article comparing her stance on some vital issues to Stewart Brand, creator of the Whole Earth Catalog:

    link to my.firedoglake.com

    LaDuke’s view of dispossession of indigenous cultures doesn’t isolate now from the 19th century. It is an account of an ongoing continuum. Find out what she is actually doing right now before you trash her statement as “crap.”

    She does not view the assaults on Palestinians as being independent of similar assaults over a host of issues, resources, religious ideologies, ethnic/tribal competitions or national borders.

    I’ve learned a fair amount from her activities and writings over the years, as have many or my Alaska Native colleagues dealing with cultural, climate change and resource development/ownership issues in Alaska and NW Canada. Being part (a smidgeon) Comanche, I feel some solidarity, but the planet’s survival transcends tribe.

    Ms. LaDuke and I both view the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as less important than its centrality in the mix that keeps us accepting the degradation and distraction resulting from fascination over wars. And the issues the wars distract us from are far more important than the totality of the deaths, injuries and damage they cause:

    1. The people who we killed (including many of my Vietnam War buddies who died slow agonizing deaths) in our Agent Orange campaigns are dead, but the Agent Orange is still there, silently killing.

    2. The people the Israelis killed in the 2006 Hezbollah War in Lebanon are dead, but the effects of the gratuitous Jiyah Power Station oil spill into the Mediterranean continue to stifle life over hundreds of thousands of square miles of the eastern Med.

    3. Deformed babies in the thousands will continue to be born into the next few centuries in areas where depleted uranium and similar very toxic weapons have been or are being used.

    4. Paraphrasing from your comment, “I could go on and on, but it would take too long. Maybe someone else will feel like spending time on it.”

    The most compelling and threatening issues facing mankind are global, not national or tribal:

    1. Vulnerability of aging reactors and their growing spent fuel pools to a host of increasing dangers: plate tectonic changes, rising waters at cooling sources, larger storm surges from climate change, or sabotage.

    2. Other nuclear waste problems (Hanford, Savannah River, several places in the former USSR and China), and nuclear weapon safeguards that are inadequate and aging.

    3. Degradation of soil and water resources through wasteful agricultural practices worldwide.

    4. Global warming itself.

    LaDuke is intensely tuned into that. She creates metaphors that transcend the tribal, while simultaneously defending and promulgating what wisdom she has gained from her heritage.

    • American
      November 21, 2012, 6:21 pm

      Philip,

      Creating metaphors…that transcend the tribal..BEAUTIFUL! Applause, applause!
      OMG, how visionary!….how brilliant!
      OMG, these thoughts and connections never occurred to the rest of us!!
      OMG, how could we not have thought of the connection between global warming and Wounded Knee and I/P?
      OMG, how could we not understand that today’s assault on Palestines is as old as all the dispossession’s and tribalism and resource competition(theft) of mankind.
      OMG, how could we not have noticed that wars distract us from all the bigger threats and problems?.

      GAWD,GAWD,GAWD, ..how could we miss that PALESTINE and ALL OF THIS is just a continuation of all the failures of mankind??
      OMG…please,please,please, thank Ms LaDuke for explaining it all to we who have never considered the intrinsic and interconnectedness of man’s world problems.

      Please direct Ms LaDuke to the internet before she publishes any more metaphorical flashes of brilliance and wisdom vanity pieces so she can see the world is talking about all the things she says we can’t talk about as reason we can’t talk Israel. ..which we are talking about.

      Sorry to be so snotty but warmed over wisdom written as gibberish and particularly ending in a faulty conclusion and statement irritates me to no end.

      • Philip Munger
        November 21, 2012, 10:33 pm

        Sorry to bother you on a day on which you appear to be so unhinged, my friend.

      • Philip Munger
        November 22, 2012, 2:33 am

        I turned Winona LaDuke’s facebook post into a poem, and dedicated it to you, American.

        link to my.firedoglake.com

      • American
        November 22, 2012, 12:37 pm

        Philip…..lol,…. yes I am unhinged. I admit it……when naming and linking all the evils of man ‘actually results’ in stopping the next one we cook up let me know.
        My conclusion in my paper in 1966 on the ‘Moral Implications’ of the Nuremberg Trials was right……it would not cure the evil or ever be applied universally… ..and only the actors, victims, perpetrators and powers in each event will change.
        I would give anything to be proved wrong.

  10. LanceThruster
    November 21, 2012, 5:44 pm

    This comes to mind when the question of discussing/not discussing issues comes up because the question centers on how they’re discussed. We can talk the I/P issue about all we want as long as it’s veiwed through the right prism.

    from Fredy Perlman: link to libcom.org

    [begin text]

    The trick of declaring war against the armed resistance and then attacking the resisters’ unarmed kin as well as the sur­rounding population with the most gruesome products of Death-Science – this trick is not new. American Pioneers were pioneers in this too; they made it standard practice to declare war on indigenous warriors and then to murder and burn villages with only women and children in them. This is already modern war, what we know as war against civilian populations; it has also been called, more candidly, mass murder or genocide.

    Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that the perpetrators of a Pogrom portray themselves as the victims, in the present case as victims of the Holocaust.

    Herman Melville noticed over a century ago, in his analysis of the metaphysics of Indian-hating, that those who made a full-time profession of hunting and murdering indigenous people of this continent always made themselves appear, even in their own eyes, as the victims of manhunts.

    The use the Nazis made of the International Jewish Conspiracy is better known: during all the years of atrocities defying belief, the Nazis considered themselves the victimized.

    It’s as if the experience of being a victim gave exemption from human solidarity, as if it gave special powers, as if it gave a license to kill.

    [end text]

  11. Keith
    November 21, 2012, 6:34 pm

    PHILIP MUNGER- Very nice response to American. Let me add something. The US/European abuse of Third World peoples continues. In the Middle East, it takes the form primarily of petro monarchies enriching the elites while supporting the global financial system even as their country’s infrastructure goes undeveloped, all with US/European support. In Africa, a new wave of neocolonialism is underway as AFRICOM uses its Libya beach head to expand operations throughout Africa. We are engaged in resource wars in a new age of diminishing resources, the Third World destined for a future of poverty to fuel the ambitions of the global elite. And yes, the environment and even species survival take a back seat to power seeking. Gaza is but a part of the big picture of imperial militarism run amok, a long history perhaps in its final stage.

  12. dbroncos
    November 21, 2012, 8:58 pm

    I agree with the connection LaDuke makes between Gaza and Wounded Knee. However, in the greed and avarice of euro-Americans there was something to be gained from continents in which the native civilizations were destroyed – at least that was the perception of those who participated in the genocide.

    What’s harder to understand is American tax-payer financed support for the Israeli campaign of genocide against Palestinians. What is it that Americans gain from finacing, weaponizing and shielding frome criticism a purified Jewish State?

    • Philip Munger
      November 22, 2012, 1:32 am

      What is it that Americans gain from finacing, weaponizing and shielding frome criticism a purified Jewish State?

      Reelection to the presidency, US house or senate. A paycheck for a few in the arms, security or real estate scam industries. Past that – zilch.

  13. DICKERSON3870
    November 21, 2012, 10:33 pm

    ● RE: “…euro-americans in the United States can’t talk about Gaza, because we can’t talk about Israel. . . Because we are one huge settlement on stolen land. We can’t talk about Israel because we are Israel.” ~ Winona LaDuke

    ● SEE: “How the Power of Myth Keeps Us Mired in War”, by Ira Chernus, TomDispatch.com, 01/20/11

    [EXCERPT] . . . White Americans, going back to early colonial times, generally assigned the role of ‘bad guys’ to ‘savages’ lurking in the wilderness beyond the borders of our civilized land. Whether they were redskins, commies, terrorists, or the Taliban, the plot has always remained the same.
    Call it the myth of national security — or, more accurately, national insecurity, since it always tells us who and what to fear.
    It’s been a mighty (and mighty effective) myth. . .

    SOURCE – link to tomdispatch.com

    ● ALSO SEE: “Israel’s Defense Chief OK’s Hundreds of Israeli Deaths”, By Ira Chernus, CommonDreams.org, 11/11/11

    [EXCERPT] . . . An essential motive of Zionism from its beginning was a fierce desire to end the centuries of Jewish weakness, to show the world that Jews would no longer be pushed around, that they’d fight back and prove themselves tougher than their enemies. There was more to Zionism than that. But the “pride through strength” piece came to dominate the whole project. Hence the massive Israeli military machine with its nuclear arsenal.
    But you can’t prove that you’re stronger than your enemies unless you’ve also got enemies — or at least believe you’ve got enemies — to fight against. So there has to be a myth of Israel’s insecurity, fueled by an image of vicious anti-semites lurking somewhere out there, for Zionism to work. Since the 1979 Iranian revolution, Iran has gradually risen to the top of Israel oh-so-necessary enemies list. Iranophobia is rampant in Israel, as one Israeli scholar writes, because “Israel needs an existential threat.”
    Anyone who has grown up in Israel, or in the U.S. Jewish community (as I did), and paid attention knows all this. . .

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – link to commondreams.org

    ● P.P.S. ALSO SEE – “Iranophobia: The Panic of the Hegemons”, by Ira Chernus, Tikkun Magazine, November/December 2010
    LINK – link to tikkun.org

  14. aiman
    November 22, 2012, 12:48 am

    The problem with LaDuke’s symphony of sorts is that it does not offer any solution. It mires both the past and present within a generalised discourse of an omnipresent devil. It is more preoccupied with its own lyrical resonance than justice. Contrary to LaDuke’s claim, as Edward Said put it in 2000: “Abortion, homosexuality, the death penalty, even the sacrosanct military budget can be discussed with some freedom. The extermination of native Americans can be admitted, the morality of Hiroshima attacked, the national flag publicly committed to the flames. But the systematic continuity of Israel’s 52-year-old oppression and maltreatment of the Palestinians is virtually unmentionable, a narrative that has no permission to appear.”

  15. MRW
    November 22, 2012, 2:27 am

    We are all Israel?
    Not if the US stops paying for it.

    Global poverty?
    The price of corn (to the poor) shot up 400% since 2008 because of biofuel desires by the elite—even tho’ it takes 1.25 gal. fossil fuel to make one gal. biofuel.

    World hunger?
    Forty-five percent (45%) of all current third-world food availability lost to poor food storage methods.

    Reality is a poke in the eye.

  16. subconscious
    November 23, 2012, 4:28 pm

    If the editors of this site would read their own site, not to mention outside sources, more attentively, then they might not try to give credit for originality to their own writers for observations made by others before them. Horowitz seems to be implying that LaDuke & Shirazi came up w/ the connection in the American mainstream perception between the treatment of the American Indians & the Palestinians. But the co-editor could have read the comment by “Hostage” on 9/12/12 at 6:44 pm @
    link to mondoweiss.net
    where he quotes Chosmky from
    link to zcommunications.org
    as, “… there are independent reasons why Americans tend towards Israel. Remember, this is a long-standing relationship that goes back long before Zionism. There’s an instinctive identification that’s unique. There’s the American Indian comparison, you know, the barbaric redskins trying to prevent progress and development and attacking innocent whites: that’s Israel-Palestine. In fact, it’s right there in the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, the most libertarian of the founding fathers. One of the charges in the Declaration against King George III is that he unleashed the merciless Indian savages against us, whose known way of warfare is torture and killing and so on. That could come straight out of Zionist propaganda. This is a very deep strain in American culture and history. After all, the country was founded by religious extremists who were waving the Holy Book and describing themselves as children of Israel returning to the Promised Land. So Zionism found its natural environment here … For many Americans, it’s just instinctive that the Jews in Israel are reliving our history. They recognize themselves, and furthermore they recognize the crusaders who succeeded in throwing out the pagans. There’s the analogy to the American conquest of the national territory, the Zionists use this analogy as well, but positively. We are bringing civilization to the barbarians, which is after all the whole core of Western imperialist ideology. It’s very deeply rooted.”
    Chomsky had made similar comments in previous interviews and lectures, as well. Did LaDuke or Shirazi make such statements before Chomsky? It’s quite possible that Chomsky may have been influenced by other writers on these views, but I doubt if LaDuke or Shirazi were the ones. This is not to imply that such a view is not worth repeating by others, but to whether it’s honest to claim originality for it.

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