Western democracies, take the spirit of change to your attention


“At the far end of the path of tears a promise was made.” Those words shrouded in mystery opened a historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling early last week. It was a matter of justice for the Indians, or at least some justice for some Indians. The framework was technical and formal: the court ruled by a narrow majority that Oklahoma State Law, in the south-center USA, do not apply to half of its territory.


That’s pretty much what Oklahoma’s representatives and the power of the federal government have asked. Removing half of a country from its jurisdiction sounds like an introduction to chaos. But that’s not what Chief Justice Neil Gorsich thought, who wrote the above solemn words.

Oklahoma About ten times larger than Israel, with a population of four million. In any case, it has a lot of free space. The U.S. Congress promised this half of the territory to the “Indians,” the original peoples of the American continent. The promise was made 190 years ago, but Oklahoma, which means “red-skinned” (in the Choctaw language), never intended to keep that promise. .

The “reds of the skin” did not dare to hope that a court with a majority of conservative judges would grant them what they wanted. The balance of power in court is five conservative versus four liberal. Gorsic was the conservative who tipped the scales when he joined the four Liberals. He did not do so for ideological reasons. He ruled in favor of the Indians because he believed that the United States must keep written and signed promises, whatever their age.

The transfer of Andrew

“The Path of Tears” was one of the most shameful events in U.S. history. Its initiators and perpetrators were among those who ended up expelling 150,000 Indians from their ancestral estates in the southeastern United States. The Supreme Court banned the deportation, but in 1830, President Andrew Jackson tweeted about the Supreme Court. It’s probably no coincidence that Jackson is the most revered president of Donald Trump.

The transfer reached its peak in the days of Jackson’s successor, Martin Van Bjorn, in 1838. 7,000 U.S. Army soldiers were sent to execute him. They dragged the Indians out of their homes under the threat of bayonets. Even before he had enough in their hands to get away, white settlers began looting their homes.

The deportees were taken about 2,000 miles west, across the Mississippi River, to an area then called “Indian Territory.” They called the deportation route the “Path of Tears,” and that name stuck with it. Thousands died of starvation and disease.

The territory named after them later became the state of Oklahoma. They were confined to “reserves,” there and throughout the United States. Native American reserves became synonymous with backwardness, poverty, disease, and neglect. They lived by his grace, lost their identity, were deprived, deprived, humiliated and died en masse.

Struggle against history

An interesting combination of circumstances authorized the Native American verdict for a massive outbreak sweeping the United States against racial injustices. What began as a protest against police violence against blacks evolved into a struggle over American history itself. His way on American soil as such, but he allowed, and also participated to a limited extent, in the war of annihilation against the original population of the Western Hemisphere.

Across the continent of America a struggle for the rights of the Indians has developed in the last half century. Canada went further than others when it enshrined the rights of the “First Nations” in its constitution, giving them full control over huge territories despite their small numbers, although it refrained from giving them a veto over legislation in their area. It may still come.

The Oklahoma ruling does not, however, give indigenous peoples the very power to control half of the state. But by applying only federal law to them, it potentially opens the way for a change in order, and perhaps a change in values ​​as well.

To relish, but also to spare

Israelis have good reason to be interested in what is happening now in the United States, not just for the sake of curiosity. It is not a curiosity at all. It is a meaningful message for the future to come. Western democracies are now facing unprecedented collective pangs of conscience. On the very legitimacy of countries that some injustice was at the basis of their establishment.These days, pangs of conscience are a central part of public discourse.These pangs of conscience are likely to affect the attitude of democracies to those who do not suffer pangs of conscience, or report their relevance.

From what your mind, not every torment of conscience leads to a general disintegration. Contrary to popular belief, absolute certainty is not a sure key to existence and longevity. Rather, the willingness to go back and ponder even what is already taken for granted is a measure that is appropriate for mature and heavy-headed peoples. Recognizing that one can savor national success, but also spare its victims, is an advanced stage of national life, not a retreat from them. The willingness to devote critical care to the actions of parents and grandparents will not oblige anyone to pack up and leave. She will express interest in joining the next phase in Western life instead of waging a mass war against her.

I think we should all be troubled by the similarity of the dynamics between Israel’s current status in the Western world, or its apparent status, and South Africa’s status 60 years ago. European empires were then nearing the end of their journey, and British Prime Minister Harold McMillan appeared in Parliament in Cape Town, urging the whites of South Africa to adapt to the “spirit of change” (listen to an excerpt from his speech). They slammed the door in his face because they thought they had no need to change. A little over 30 years later, after missing every chance of a balanced and gradual change, they were forced to give up everything.

It is time to join the spirit of changing the status of power, voluntarily. The spirit of change is about to develop into a hurricane.

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