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In a recent Zoom talk, Ryan Bellerose shows he’s an important ally in Israel advocacy

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Ryan Bellerose is an Indigenous Canadian from Calgary who speaks on Jewish Indigenous rights to Israel | Photo: Screenshot

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In a climate of increasing antisemitic rhetoric, and the questioning of Israel’s right to exist, an unexpected and much-needed defender of the Jewish people has emerged in recent years.

Ryan Bellerose is an outspoken Metis from Northern Alberta, and an advocate for indigenous first nations rights in Canada.

A few chance encounters while advocating for Native rights at the University of Alberta turned his attention to a new cause to champion: that of the Jewish peoples’ original claim to Israel, as the indigenous people of that land.

On July 16, Bellerose spoke at an online event hosted by both Chabads of Saskatoon and Regina, on the topics of his advocacy for Israel, and why it is so important for his own cause in Canada.

In what he described as a “masters degree in Jewish history” of intense research, following interactions with Pro-Palestinian native rights advocates, Bellerose came to the conclusion that the Jewish people were, in fact, the indigenous people of Israel, and that this point had to be staunchly defended if he expected others to stand with the indigenous rights of the First Nations in Canada.

Bellerose stated that he “could not expect to have others identify with my indigenous claims if I did not stand for the rights of others.”

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Defining “indigenous” is crucial: a people are uniquely tied to a territory, through what he describes as the Hand Theory. “If people are tied to a language, land, culture, blood, and spirituality in one area, then they have a strong original claim to that area.”

And when comparing the Jewish people to Arabs, Bellerose says the evidence shows that ancient Israel is where Jewish culture and language originated, while the Palestinians’ culture and traditions can be traced to either Egypt, Syria or as far as the Arabian peninsula. With regard to the Palestinian Arabs, “you cannot become indigenous through conquering, and if the sole claim to being indigenous comes from conquering indigenous peoples, your claim is invalid.”

The Bellerose family is intimately familiar with arguing for land rights. Bellerose’s father, Mervin, co-authored the Metis Settlements Act of 1989. The Act established legal land titles for Metis in the province, along with establishing self-government within the province for the Metis peoples, a mix of Cree and French ancestry, that long-settled what are the prairie provinces today.

Ryan Bellerose discusses Jewish land rights to Israel

According to Bellerose, he believes he can be a more effective advocate for Israel, because he uses arguments that have been effective in establishing territorial claims everywhere.

“What sets me apart from Jewish people who tend to use religious language in their advocacy, is that I use the legal language that the United Nations and indigenous rights groups use,” in defending Israel’s right to exist.

In his view, if the indigenous rights of the Jewish people over Israel can be established by the entire global community, then the subject of establishing a lasting peace can only then begin to take shape: the lingering dispute of who is indigenous to the land is what is causing much of the conflict.

Bellerose equated the hopes and struggles of his people, with the Jewish people, albeit the latter having more success. He noted that the Metis have fought, and continue to fight, for their ancestral land rights.

There is a struggle against the attempted erasure of sacred lands.  In addition, there is an attempt to revive a dying language in Cree, intricately tied to their culture, “and we can use the Jewish revival of Hebrew as a template.”

As it stands, he noted, the United Nations and its branches are trying to erase much of Jewish history from Israel. He cited a recent example, of designating Rachel’s Tomb as a Muslim site: “Putting a mosque on the Temple Mount didn’t change how sacred it was to the Jews, and neither will this.”

With his unique background, coupled with legal-based arguments for Israel, Ryan Bellerose is the voice that Israel advocacy never anticipated, but most certainly need in these challenging times. 

Doron Berger is a finance professional, a Toronto ex-pat now living in the US. He was a former reporter for Afterword newspaper for five years, and was a feature writer for LandmarkReport.com, an online news site.

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Happy reading!

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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