| The Indigenous People Again | MR Online

The Indigenous People, again

Originally published: Al Mayadeen on March 29, 2023 by Bouthaina Shaaban (more by Al Mayadeen)  | (Posted Mar 30, 2023)

When I visited Australia and met with a few Aborigines families, I loved them, their culture, their arts, and their spirituality for whatever was left of it. And I thought to myself: what would the world look like had the Indigenous people of the United States, Australia, Canada, and South America been here, had their culture been kept flourishing with its extraordinary dimensions of spirituality, lives, habits, relation with nature, knowledge, which has accumulated in their hearts and minds and in their ways of life for thousands of years?

I have often wondered where are the research centers about these Indigenous people. Why nobody knows what was the real number of these people; how many were they and how many were killed? And what about the few thousands of them that had been left as a token of a once beautiful humanity that has been erased? I would love to have another life in order to start research centers on the Indigenous people and to try to unravel the gross loss that has befallen humanity as a result of wiping whole cultures off the face of the earth. As an Arab woman, I feel strongly about Indigenous cultures, and when I saw the art of the Aborigines, their way of life, their relation with nature, and their spirituality, which is so far away from this globalized, materialistic world that is bringing ruin to life itself from the inside, because of this huge focus on materialism and on money, instead of the focus on relationships with nature, with God, and with our fellow human beings, I knew what our so-called modern world needs desperately.

For the last few months, and strictly since the beginning of this year, I have been watching another erasement of Indigenous people, and perhaps we can look at this erasement and learn lessons from what has taken place centuries ago. The Palestinian people, who are the Indigenous people of Palestine, are being massacred daily, erased, uprooted, and forced to migrate, their houses are being demolished by settlers and terrorists, their young men and women are being shot from point blank, and their land is confiscated and seized by settlers, and still, countries that claim to be civilized just sit there watching and doing nothing to stop another erasement of Indigenous people. If these countries who cry about human rights, about humanity, about the right of women, about the right of children to be gay cannot raise a voice about the right of Palestinian people to live freely on their land and to keep their homeland, then their credibility about rights is non-existent. Have you ever seen anything worse than forcing a family to bring down its own home, which it has built after many many years of suffering and hard work? Is there anything crueler than to erase a house and make its inhabitants homeless? Is there anything crueler than preventing the Palestinian people from moving, traveling, coming back to their homes, joining their families, and seeing their parents or children and family members? Is there anything crueler than what the Palestinian prisoners are exposed to in the racist, ugliest jails of the 21st century?

For those who do not know what happened to Indigenous Americans, Indigenous Aborigines, and Indigenous Latin Americans, all they have to do is only look at the Palestinians to know what was happening there centuries ago, depriving the people of all sources of life, destroying their homes and villages, and massacring their young children in an effort to wipe them out completely and then living on their own land, and still, they dare call themselves modern and civilized. In this sense, I don’t find it strange that the U.S., Canada, and Australia do not sympathize with the Palestinians because they themselves were settlers too. They are the ones who wiped out whole cultures and confiscated their land. It is more normal for them to sympathize with Israeli settlers, with the terrorists who are doing exactly what the West did to Indigenous cultures. So, perhaps today the one example of the suffering of native Americans, Aborigines, or any native people in Canada, Australia, the U.S., and Latin America can be seen in the suffering of the Palestinian people today at the hands of Zionist settlers and army.

If any religious leader or political leader has any remorse about what has happened to Indigenous cultures, it is his or her chance to try and save this Indigenous Palestinian culture now.

Until such a move is taken, I do not believe there is a civilized world in the West, I do not believe that they care at all about humans or human rights, and I do not believe that they are entitled to be in the first rows of world leadership. I don’t believe that they will have any future in our future world. I hope that the sun will rise from the East again and that the East will lead the next stage of our human history and not the West because at least the East knows what Indigenous cultures mean and respects people and their culture, history, and human lives. I have no doubt that the sun is rising from the East, and I hope, if I don’t see it, that my children and grandchildren will see it, and I have no doubt that they will see the total and absolute sunset of the West.

As the Israeli settlers and army perpetrate one massacre after another against the Palestinian civilians, and the Western world responds mostly by understanding the need of the Israeli to “defend” themselves, one wonders whether it is deep-rooted racism against the Arabs or is it the ugly past revisiting white settlers again so that they cannot shake it off their psyche.

The Western world which claims to be civilized and lectures other parts of the world every day about all kinds of rights has a fundamental question to answer about its stance on Palestine, the Palestinians, and the Arabs.

Monthly Review does not necessarily adhere to all of the views conveyed in articles republished at MR Online. Our goal is to share a variety of left perspectives that we think our readers will find interesting or useful. —Eds.