Canadian Indigenous Activist to Israel: Be More Assertive About Ancestral Lands
JNS.org – Canadian indigenous rights activist Ryan Bellerose recently visited Israel, where he filmed a video in support of the Jewish state in coordination with the Israel education and advocacy group StandWithUs.
“Indigenous status means that your people had a coalescence and a genesis on the land,” said Bellerose, who founded the pro-Israel group Calgary United with Israel, in the widely watched video. “Everything that makes Jews Jewish—their spirituality, their traditions, their culture, their language, everything—it stems from Israel.”
Bellerose belongs to the Métis community, a native group recognized by the Canadian government as aboriginal. He is also a Zionist who has published many articles in support of Israel.
“I feel compelled to fight the idea that Israel is a colonialist state, that the Jews are colonizers from Europe and the entire invalid and false Arab narrative that has been spread since the 1960s,” Bellerose told the Times of Israel. “This ridiculous inversion of history has been accepted because nobody really stands up and fights it. And I believe coming from an Indian from Canada, who has lived through actual apartheid—two laws, one state for two peoples—I have a unique perspective. I have lived through colonization, and Israel is not even remotely colonialist.”
“I also do not like people who tell lies to Indians or who use our naivete and ignorance of the world to weaponize us. You are Jews from Judea. Your entire history is in the earth you walk on. Some of you were displaced and you fought for 2,000 years to return to the land of your forefathers. You do not need to be apologetic for doing something that is the goal of every indigenous people. You need to be celebratory. You need to be proud. I try to help inspire that,” he said.
Bellerose also called on Israel to be “more assertive about its ancestral lands.”
“You are a great example to my people and to all indigenous people of what indigenous peoples are capable of. You were a damaged fractured people who had the entire world against you, yet you not only regained your ancestral lands, you rebuilt them and you built a thriving powerful nation without losing touch with your ancestral roots. Tell me that’s not a powerful story and example,” he said.