by Alex Proios (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 50, No. 3, Ramadan, 1442)
Land theft and apartheid are two issues most Muslims are acutely aware of due to their collective experience in the face of Zionism, and also because usurpation is considered a very serious crime in Islam. A person who lives on and/or profits from stolen land is faced with both invalid prayers and haram earnings. Thus, most Muslim scholars agree that living within the boundaries of Apartheid Israel is religiously forbidden.
We often condemn this usurpation in the Israeli context but fall silent about the same usurpation in the western context. The reason is that most Muslims have fallen head first for one of the boldest US lies: that the United States is anything other than an occupation state, actively engaged in the same systematic oppression and erasure of its Native population that is being witnessed in occupied Palestine.
In the words of Sayyid Qutb, American civilization “permits the American conscience to acquiesce in the systematic eradication of the Red Indian race, an eradication that is being organized in the sight and hearing of all states.” That was published in 1949 in one of his most famous books. And yet, the glaring inconsistency of decrying apartheid in occupied Palestine from a house in California is completely lost on most Muslims today.
So, in hopes of clearing the fog surrounding this issue, let’s take a look at Apartheid America and its sister state Apartheid Israel and see how much they have in common. In “israel”, there are three types of inhabitants: White Jews, Black Jews, and Natives. The white Jews actively discriminate against their fellow black Jews, and the black Jews are often subject to police brutality and live in urban ghettos.
Israelis have a political left and a political right. The left often calls out the regime for its abuses against the black Jews, but without ever acknowledging that the state itself is illegitimate. In short, they have a white population and an oppressed black population who share the same culture on a foundational level, and a culturally foreign Native population whose rights are forcibly taken away from them by the other two.
Liberal Israelis have no problem criticizing the regime’s internal human rights abuses or its mistreatment of black citizens because it is easy to recognize and oppose oppression when there are no immediate consequences. Just like Americans who criticize America’s foreign policy, police brutality, and even the treatment of Native population, “liberal” Israelis will never actually abandon the settler state and live elsewhere. That would be inconvenient.
Some Americans have even started staging “Land acknowledgments”, where they acknowledge that the land is stolen, however they don’t return the land to its original owners (Again, that would be inconvenient). In other words, when it comes to Native sovereignty (whether it be in Israel or the US), in the mind of even the most “enlightened” settler, moral posturing without meaningful action is justice.
For anyone even remotely familiar with American politics, the parallel should be painfully obvious but for those not convinced yet, there’s much more. The US government has entered into hundreds of treaties with the various nations of this continent, acknowledging their legal rights to vast swathes of North America, and it blatantly, arrogantly, and flagrantly has violated and continues to violate almost every single one.
The settler state’s commitment to breaking its promises extends well beyond treaties. The Trade and Intercourse Act of 1834 designates almost everything west of the Mississippi river (More than half of what the US now claims as its territory) as the permanent Indian frontier. This territory is supposed to be completely off limits to US citizens, except those explicitly given permits for trade with the Indian nations.
The idea was put forth by President Andrew Jackson who proposed that settlers and Natives could never actually coexist within a single state. Thus, two states had to be created: one for the settlers, and one for the Natives. The government officially recognized this deal, while unofficially allowed settlers to flow into Indian territory unimpeded and slowly eat away at the “Permanent Indian frontier” until eventually the government could claim it.
For anyone even remotely familiar with the Palestinian struggle, the parallel should be painfully clear by now, but we’re not finished just yet. After violating the original 1834 trade act, the US entered into the Fort Laramie Treaty (1868), guaranteeing the Sioux nation a massive chunk of land in what is now four different states. In 1980 the Sioux nation sued the federal government for its legal rights to the Black Hills, which lie at the heart of what should have been the Sioux nations’ permanent homeland. It is also where the US government took one look at a mountain known as the “six grandfathers” and decided to use dynamite to carve it up and rename it “Mount Rushmore”.
The case made it all the way to the supreme court, and the Sioux nation won, but instead of relinquishing the land to the Sioux (That would be inconvenient), they offered the Sioux nation money. (A massive amount.) Despite their crippling poverty, the Sioux have continued (even in 2021) to refuse the money (currently $1 billion) that the federal government is offering in exchange for the land.
The same story plays out with the Western Shoshone Nation, whose territory is also massive, in what is now California and Nevada. They constantly suffer from the fallout caused by the US government using their lands as testing grounds for nuclear weapons. They continue to refuse the $140 million that were offered in 2004, in exchange for the land promised to them in the Treaty of Ruby Valley (1863).
In other words, there’s a laundry list of evidence that Apartheid America is built on usurped land, making buying a house in South Dakota just as religiously problematic as buying one in Tel Aviv. It should also be mentioned that the one ethnic group killed by the police more than any other (even more than Afro-Americans) is Natives, that they are over-represented in the prison system than any other group (Native incarceration rates are 38% higher than the national average), and that one out of every three Native women have been violated, and that 2/3 of all sexual assaults against Native women are committed by Whites and other non-Natives.
American citizens can commit crimes on reservation territory, without being tried in reservation courts and that when these crimes occur, the federal government (whose job it is to prosecute such cases) almost always turns a blind eye. For example, a 2010 study found that of all the sexual assault cases sent to the DoJ by the reservation police, the DOJ declined 67%). Needless to say, the mass forced sterilizations of native women in the 1970s (25%-50% of all Native women were sterilized) or that one of the longest standing political prisoners in the world is a Lakota activist Leonard Peltier, because this is what apartheid is.
It is fairly well known that the laws governing Israel’s apartheid system were based on South Africa’s Apartheid Act (1948). But what often goes unmentioned is that the Apartheid Act (1948) was created by studying Canada’s Indian Act (1876).
This was preceded by Australia’s Aboriginal Protection Act (1869), and the latter preceded by the US’ Indian Appropriations Act (1851) which outlines the very first apartheid system, the Indian reservation system.
The US’ Native reservation system has served as the source code for apartheid systems around the world. So, on what grounds do we consider it lawful for Muslims to live in such a place?
Can we claim to oppose Zionism, when we join hands with the Americans in committing the same crimes and upholding the same system? If our rejection and boycott of the Zionist state is based sincerely on religious principles, then it’s time we take the next logical step and boycott the US (and Canada and Australia) on the same basis.