Media release: Indigenous Coalition for Israel…

The First Nations of North America hosted an historic event in Seattle, WA, USA, to celebrate the opening of the Indigenous Embassy Jerusalem, welcoming and receiving the embassy leaders with traditional protocol and ceremony.

Grand Chief Lynda Prince called for the summit of First Nations grand chiefs, chiefs and tribal leaders to meet the New Zealand based leaders, Hon Alfred Ngaro and Dr Sheree Trotter.

For GC Prince the opening of the embassy was the culmination of a 25 year dream. She, along with some of the attendees went to the Knesset in Israel in 1999 and presented their desire for an embassy. GC Lynda acknowledged Māori leader Monte Ohia, who led the World Christian Indigenous Peoples movement in the 1990s and early 2000s.

She explained that he backed her desire to include the Jews as indigenous peoples and took the hits within the movement from supersessionist and antisemitic elements. GC Prince has endorsed the Māori leadership of the embassy, as being fitting.

Co-director Dr Sheree Trotter remarked that it was meaningful for her that the first event convened in Rotorua by Monte Ohia was held at a Marae (tribal meeting house) to which she is connected. Both Ohia and Trotter belong to the Te Arawa tribe.

“It was very moving for me to learn about this connection from one of the forerunners of the embassy.”

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Grand Chief Lynda Prince said:

“We are extremely elated that the IEJ has become reality, and thank the Māori who assisted to push it through to fruition… We wanted to thank properly by doing protocol with all who brought to fruition this great victory.”

The IEJ provides a platform for First Nations and Indigenous peoples around the world to raise their voices in support of Israel, recognising that the Jewish people are indigenous to the land of Israel. The Jewish experience of dispossession, discrimination and persecution over centuries is one that resonates with those Indigenous peoples who have experienced similar things. The embassy in Jerusalem provides a doorway for Indigenous peoples to enter the land and to maintain a presence there.

According to co-director Hon Alfred Ngaro:

“The Embassy provides a platform for the alignment of cultures and similar historical diasporic experiences of dispossession and displacement.  The common view of indigenous identity to land are founded on our ability to trace our whakapapa, through ancestral lines of genealogy.

“Adding further weight to legitimising indigeneity are a people’s ability to call on historical and archeological evidence, which in Israel’s case proves without a doubt, Jewish indigeneity.”

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Dr Sheree Trotter stated:

“We reject the notion that Jews are foreign white colonisers who’ve dispossessed the so-called ‘Indigenous Palestinians’. This is a lie that has been promulgated for decades, and like all propaganda has taken root through continuous repetition. It bears no resemblance to the truth.

“We, as Indigenous peoples, recognise that Jews are the Indigenous people of the land with more than 3,500 years of continuous connection in the land. Though they were a small minority at times, they always maintained a presence.”