Jewish Identity As An Indigenous Identity: The Land Of Israel As A Native Land Of The Jews – OpEd


Many do not know that the Jewish people are made up of a multitude of Jewish ethnic types, whose roots are varied due to the diaspora, assimilation and theories of the lost tribes of Israel. This includes Jews from the Mediterranean and Iberian region known as Sephardim, Jewish people from Middle Eastern nations known as Judemizrahi, African Jews known as Ethiopian Jews or Falashas, much better known European Jews whose Jewish denomination is Ashkenaz, Jews of Chinese origin known as Kaifeng Jews, Indian Jews known as Menasse, and so on, and The issue of crypto-Jews (New Christians) will remain at the heart of this text, within the category of original peoples who suffered the colonial inquisition of Iberian Europe, which spread, mainly in Latin America during a Portuguese-Spanish colonial era, and suffered total Jewish religious assimilation, despite resistance from many Latin Americans, including Brazilians, especially in the Northeast regions of Brazil and Minas Gerais in Brazil.

They were condemned for being Judaizers for maintaining remnants of Jewish religious culture, which will be better treated in the words of the Jewish researcher at the University of São Paulo (USP) in Brazil, Anita Novinsky, as well as the studies of Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn, who has a thesis debate about crypto-Jews in the city of Venha-Ver in the State of Rio Grande Norte in Brazil. They focused for a long time on this subject, ignored by Brazilian society as a subtle way of maintaining Christian religious hegemony and alienating the Christian religion and secularization, both historically anti-Jewish.

Boas, Malinowski, Lévi-Strauss and Geertz, as great anthropologists of their respective time and space, explained cultural diversity, the universality of human belief in the supernatural, mysticism and the divine and the use of language, the creation of art and writing , for example. These anthropologists also state that each people historically adapts these universal elements that are part of the constitution of human behavior and mind, differentiating themselves over time by acquiring and developing their own language, in addition, customs among others as constituents of every human society.

According to the United Nations, the definition, or rather, the understanding of the indigenous concept does not have or was not officially adopted from the term indigenous, but it brought an understanding of what indigenous is that includes, in short, self-identity; historical continuity with pre-colonial societies; strong connection to territories; distinct social, economic or political systems; distinct language, culture and beliefs; formation of non-dominant groups in society; resolve to maintain and reproduce their ancestral environments and systems as peoples:

Understanding the term “indigenous”. Considering the diversity of indigenous peoples, an official definition of “indigenous” has not been adopted by any body in the UN system. Instead, the system has developed a modern understanding of this term based on the following: • Self-identification as indigenous people on an individual level and accepted by the community as its member. • Historical continuity with pre-colonial and/or pre-colonization societies • Strong connection to surrounding territories and natural resources • Distinct social, economic or political systems • Distinct language, culture and beliefs • Form non-dominant groups in society • Resolve to maintain and reproduce their ancestral environments and systems as peoples and communities. (UN, 2023)

As mentioned above, the definition of indigenous peoples includes elements such as their own language, customs, traditions, self-identification or self-determination as indigenous and recognized by the indigenous community to which they belong, their territory, cultural, social, economic and political systems distinct from the hegemonic society in which it is inserted, and Jews are analogous or even equal to indigenous peoples, I am Jewish and I am indigenous to the Land of Israel.

The term indigenous comes from Latin and is used to designate affiliation with a place of birth: indi- (from there) and gen- (born). Its etymological meaning would be ‘born there’. “Indigenous means ‘original, the one who is there before other peoples’, and values the diversity of each people” (Senado, online).

A large part of the Jewish people has not yet realized that they have several characteristics of indigenous peoples, their own cultural and liturgical language, a sacred language, a sacred land whose Jewish ancestors were expelled by empires, including the European Roman Empire, peculiar objects and clothing, book sacred and its own exclusive religion, philosophy of life that clashes with the culture of the hegemonic society, holy days that differ from the official and hegemonic calendar of the societies in which they are inserted, in addition to suffering from anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism of the reigning society, among several other Jewish cultural elements analogous to indigenous peoples and original peoples spread across the world.

We understand the religious phenomenon as one of the oldest structuring components of human cultures, according to anthropological theories. When we reflect on Jewish religion and culture as an integral part of human cultural diversity, but with a unique specificity, which is similar in practically all the elements that define an indigenous people.

The Jewish religion with Abrahamic roots is the oldest monotheistic religion originating in the Middle East, at least among the religions of Abrahamic origin, and the entire Jewish sacred scripture explains Jewish identity, how to define a Jew, which varies according to the interpretation of each rabbi of each Jewish movement, its liturgical and ritual language on Shabbat among other festivities of the Jewish calendar which is the Hebrew language, peculiar rituals, customs, calendar that differs from the calendar of hegemonic cultures, dietary laws, clothing, objects and symbols, flag, music , varied Jewish ethnicities and the nation of Israel as promised exclusively to the Jewish people, as structuring aspects and analogous to the other indigenous peoples of our planet, who are subjected to local hegemonic cultures, with emphasis on Jews living in the diaspora, due to persecution uninterrupted activities of Jews in their ancestral Land of Israel and in foreign lands.

The Jews are in a phase of decolonization of their sacred land from other peoples who invaded it and several nations create mechanisms to attack the Jews who immigrated to Israel, the allyah, and Zionism as a religious phenomenon of the return of the Jews to their Promised Land for a people holy, a chosen people, a sacred language – Hebrew, among other Jewish attributes. We also realize that attacks on Jews throughout history are repeated in international bodies. When part of the Jewish people returns to their Land of Israel, the sacred territory promised to the Jews, according to the sacred writings of the Jewish religion, codified in the Torah, but other people do not respect Jewish autonomy in Israeli territory and even anti-Semitic attacks that the Jewish people suffers when there is a regional conflict in the face of factional terrorism and religious-Islamic fundamentalism.

It is urgent that not only Jews become aware of their Jewish identity as an indigenous identity, and that their identity and culture are closely linked to the Land of Israel, but that all humanity keeps in mind the Jewish question and the Land of Israel in line with and analogy with the indigenous issue of other indigenous peoples spread across the planet, and that Zionism is not a strictly political movement, but an organized movement with a view to ensuring that the culture of the Jewish people is not assimilated or distorted by other non-Jewish peoples, Zionism is a movement intrinsically in tune with the Jewish sacred scriptures, in which its God demands that the Jewish people return, occupy and walk in their Holy Land, Eretz Israel. This is a Jewish Right.

Dr. Alan Freire de Lima

Dr. Alan Freire de Lima obtained his Ph.D in Anthropology and Religion and Ph.D in Psychology (PsyD in Psychology) from Logos University International - UNILOGOS (Florida, United States of America) / European International University (Paris, France), respectively.

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