By Prof Abdullah Yousef Sahar
The occupation of Alcatraz Island by some Native American activists on Nov 20, 1969 for 18 months did not represent the beginning of the story of the “Red Indians”, but indeed the result of a long-lasting misery of the indigenous people in North America. In fact, this incident inherited a long era of injustice, killing, displacement and the seizure of the lands of the so-called Native Americans.
This story begins when the white man came across the sea, migrating from Europe to what is now known as North America. Departing from his Judeo-Christian tradition, the new immigrant white man, who was contaminated with the diseases of religious fanaticism and hatred for others, called the indigenous people’s own land the “Promised Land” in order to satisfy his greed and to confiscate the property of others. This information may be strange, but it represents a fact recorded by many in American literature that are concerned with the history of the first immigrants, who were called the Puritans.
Religious justification was utilized at the beginning for the seizure of the lands of the indigenous citizens. Subsequently, to deny their right as human beings, an anthropological justification was falsely developed to prove that the Native Americans are not civilized, but rather merely savage creatures and a vanishing race.
Furthermore, after the American government was formed, the US Congress issued some ridiculous laws which were vigorously applied, such as the Reallocation Act and the Indian Removal Act. Through these laws, indigenous citizens were forcibly displaced, in which 60,000 human beings were displaced from their homes between 1830 to 1850. Grievously, during these displacement operations, about 16,000 innocent lives were lost, and was therefore called the Trail of Tears.
This ethnic cleansing, which was carried out by cowboy gangsters with the support of the British colonization authority and continued by the American government after independence, was the engine that generated the movement to occupy Alcatraz Island in California. The descendants of the Native American used their right based on the Treaty of Fort Laramie signed in 1868, which allowed them, as indigenous citizens, to take over any vacant land.
The American authorities described this movement as an illegal occupation, and the protesters in the island were cut off from water and electricity until they were eventually forcefully evacuated. However, this movement enabled the successors of the native citizens to attract the attention of the American audience and international public opinion.
Currently, what Hamas did on October 7 does not mark the beginning of the tragic and horrific story the world is currently witnessing. The Zionist government has carried out a 75-year legacy of aggression, killing, displacement, seizure and injustice. This is another Holocaust committed by the Zionist occupation force that is killing innocent people, confiscating lands, displacing indigenous citizens, demolishing their homes, sabotaging their farms and depriving them of the minimum necessities of life. Just as the British colonizers helped the cowboy gangsters to kill Native Americans in the past, the United States today supports the Zionist entity to crush the Palestinians in their own land.
American society in particular, and the Western society in general, began to grasp this story, and perhaps some of them were surprised by it because it differs from the narrative stereotyping of the occupying Zionists who control many media and financial institutions in the Western world.
It is important for the Western world to know that Muslims and Arabs are not aggressive or terrorists as some Orientalist institutions are propagating and who are politically motivated by the myth of supremacy. The Arabs who are struggling today for their rights as human beings like the rest of the nations who gained their independence and resisted the Nazi occupier of France, the British colonizers of America, the Soviet aggression in Afghanistan, the Japanese invasion of China, etc.
In order for this story not to be the beginning of a project of hatred between the Western societies and Muslims, the whole story from both sides has to be covered and told fairly. Indeed, this tragedy should be objectivity examined from all aspects, which has spanned approximately 75 years, in order to see the truth as it is gleaming from the top of Alcatraz.
NOTE: Prof Abdullah Yousef Sahar is a Professor of International Relations at Kuwait University