Pro-Israel students at Columbia University plan to hold an event highlighting the Jewish people's indigenous connection to the land of Israel to combat the narrative that Israelis are 'colonizers' who stole the land from indigenous Arab inhabitants, according to a report by the Algemeiner.
The event, titled ‘Indigenous People Unite,’ will also highlight the rights and struggles of four other indigenous peoples, the Yazidis, Assyrians, Tibetans, and Native Canadians. Speakers from each indigenous group will be featured.
The 'Indigenous People Unite' event will take place Tuesday, December 6, and is sponsored by Students Supporting Israel (SSI).
The SSI Facebook page says of the event: "Experience a night where 5 indigenous peoples from around the world, unite to share their stories, struggles, and aspirations. The thousand year old sacred connection to a piece of land and the constant attempts of destruction and oppression, brings these people together in a discussion centered around pursuing common interests."
Rudy Rochman the President of the Columbia University chapter of SSI, told the Algeminer: "The Palestinians frame Israel and Jews as a movement that came to take away someone else’s and whose mere existence impedes on the Palestinian right of self-determination.”
He said that anti-Israel groups, such as Students of Justice in Palestine, seek to tie the fight against Israel to other fights for minority rights, such as the US civil rights movement, and that presenting the Israeli case alongside those of the Yazidis, the Tibetans, the Assyrians, and the Native Canadians will present a new conception of the Arab-Israeli conflict on campus.
SSI uses the Biblical term 'Israelite' to describe the Jewish people's status as an indigenous people.
Rochman said that he hopes that pro-Israel students will "feel empowered" to speak about Israel as a result of the program.
"I want to tell the story of my people: of our yearning to come back to our homeland, and of why we pray three times a day, facing Jerusalem. This connection is what needs to be shared with the world.” Rochman said.