When I drive down the street in my small Nevada town, I often see a bumper-sticker of the tri-colored Basque flag with the word "Euskadi!" emblazoned in bold letters. This bumper sticker is a classic, and the sight of it always brings me back to my childhood, before the area had such an influx of Californians, and most of the people in my town were either American Indian, Basque, or Mormon.
Michelle NevadaMichelle Nevada is a religious Jew from rural Nevada.
In fact, to this day, everyone knows that if you want to get anything through the town council, you must speak to the old men at the local Basque bar about it first. I tell newcomers to town: Never call a Basque a Spaniard ? not if you want any street repairs, garbage pickup, or the approval of building plans. They run our town, and they always have. There is still a large Basque population all over the Western United States. Most of the Basque I know are successful land owners, sheep ranchers, business leaders, and politicians (Paul Laxalt, a long-time Nevada Senator and the campaign manager for President Reagan is Basque, for example).
So, what is Euskadi? It is the name of the Basque homeland.
Unfortunately, that homeland is only a dream. The Basque homeland is currently split in two and ruled by France and Spain. Most Basque people live in what is known as a "semi-autonomous region" of the Pyrennes mountains, where they struggle to keep their culture, language, and religious observances intact. This is an amazingly old culture: their language is unrelated to any other language on the planet, their culture is unrelated to any other culture, and scientists, through DNA analysis and archeological evidence, have determined that the Basque people have lived in the same area at least since the Stone-Age. The Basque people have been fighting for their own homeland for a long time, but France and Spain refuse to give up the land.
The Basque have tried everything ? diplomatic arguments, political associations, and, finally, armed conflict. In 1959, the ETA was formed, a leftist group, which many Basques refer to as an "independence movement" and the EU, US and other governments refer to as a "terrorist organization." The ETA was created when young Basque nationalists became angered by Franco's suppression of the Basque language and culture. Since 1959, when ETA was founded, they have used car bombs, truck bombs, and targeted assassinations in an effort to bring more attention to their fight for Basque independence. So far, over 800 people have died. ETA's most famous attack resulted in the killing of Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, Franco's successor. Meanwhile, moderate Basque groups, like the Basque National Party, have not given up trying to get independence for their nation in more politically and diplomatically appropriate ways. Most Basques reject the radical approach of the ETA, and often meet in "anti-violence" rally's after an ETA attack.
The Basque are a determined people, and, clearly, the Basque people have a much more commanding argument for an independent nation than the so-called "Palestinian people" do. Yet, France and Spain will not give them independence.
Why is that?
How can representatives of the European Union keep a straight face when they stand before the United Nations and argue for the autonomy of the so-called "Palestinian people", while denying autonomy to the much more deserving Basque nation in their own back yards? How can they stand the shame? What can they say in their own defense?
France and Spain might argue that they don't want to reward the terrorism of the ETA ... or that they have already given the Basque people a "semi-autonomous region"... or that they don't want to have a "nation of terrorists" at their doorstep... or that the Basque do not have the infrastructure to make their own nation... or that they already provide the Basque with an opportunity to practice their culture, religion, and political beliefs freely... etc., etc.
However, there is a big difference between the arguments of France and Spain against allowing a homeland for the Basque, and Israel's arguments against allowing a "homeland" for the "Palestinians": the Basque people really do have a history, a language, and a culture that is significantly different from all other nations in Europe. The "Palestinians" have no such differentiation from other peoples in the Middle East. The so-called "Palestinian people" have no specific cultural, religious, or linguistic differentiation from other Arabic people in Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon; they have a made-up name taken from the Roman conquerors; and they have only existed, at most, for the last 40 or 50 years.
So, I say: "France and Spain, you go first! When you give Euskadi to the well-deserving Basque people, then, maybe, Israel will begin to listen to your drivel!"
Until then, let's provide an adequate response for Israel, shall we?
* Immediately vote to censure the EU for refusing the rights of the Basque people, for occupying their land, and for building settlements.
* Send foreign correspondents into the Basque lands to speak with them about how they have been treated by France and Spain, about their political and economic plight, and about how deserving they are of an independent Basque nation.
* Schedule an immediate vote in the UN to censure the EU for their continuing oppression of the Basque people and the EU's refusal to grant them a homeland.
* Boycot all French and Spanish goods, and do not provide France and Spain with goods or services that might be used to aid the oppression of the Basque people.
Meanwhile, back in my little town in Nevada, I will buy myself a "Euskadi!" bumper sticker to place next to my existing sticker that reads: "Wherever I stand, I stand with Israel." It can't hurt; and I might even get my street repaired.
Michelle Nevada is a religious Jew who lives in a small town in rural Nevada.