by: Ilse Strauss
Monday, 5 February 2024 | “I want to apologize to the people of Israel for the horrible thing the South African government did. We are sorry.”
Regent Xami Thomas, leader of the Khoi Kingdom of Southern Africa, delivered this message to a packed audience in the heart of Jerusalem on Thursday night.
The crowd cheered their approval. This was, after all, words of support from the citizens of the nation that had dragged Israel to the International Court of Justice on accusations of genocide.
Thomas was not done though. “The government does not represent all the Khoi or all the people of South Africa. The allegations are without any substance. We were horrified…”
Then came the clincher. “Anybody who says that Israel isn’t indigenous doesn’t know what they’re talking about. If Israel isn’t indigenous, there’s no indigenous nation on earth.”
The South African leader’s words carried significant weight considering the current relationship between Jerusalem and Pretoria. Yet for a chance, his voice of solidarity with the Jewish state was one among a multitude offered to the audience.
Thursday night marked the official opening of the world’s first embassy for first nations. And delegations from the South Pacific, North America, Canada and, of course, South Africa, had come to Jerusalem for the inauguration. Various others sent recorded messages.
The Indigenous Embassy in Jerusalem does not represent a specific state or country. Rather, it embodies the voices of indigenous leaders and their people from across the world and will serve as a hub of information and a helping hand in the Promised Land. But perhaps more importantly, the embassy—and those it represents—stand as a symbolic chorus of support. It affirms that although Israel faces opposition from many sides, these indigenous leaders and their people recognize the Jewish people as one of them: an indigenous people in their indigenous land, the Land of Israel.
The guest list for the evening included ambassadors, several tribal chiefs, a princess and a king. One by one, the indigenous leaders—all committed Christians who love and support Israel—took to the stage, bringing messages of hope, love and encouragement to the Jewish people.
The representatives from Hawaii asked the indigenous leaders to stand and stretch out their hands over the audience of Israelis as they sang the Aaronic Blessing in Hawaiian. The delegation from Puerto Rico accompanied themselves on traditional instruments as they too sang blessings over Israel. A representative for the queen of Tonga read the Song of Moses from Deuteronomy 32:1–43. And Thomas encouraged the audience with the promise that those who are with Israel are more than those who stand against her (2 Kings 6:16–17).
Add to that the piercing call of a ram’s horn resounding every so often, the rhythmic beat of tribal drums and indigenous leaders decked out in bright traditional garb dancing to popular Jewish melodies, and you get what the master of ceremonies called the most joyous inauguration ever.
The Indigenous Embassy in Jerusalem is the brainchild of Dr. Sheree Trotter, co-founder of the Indigenous Coalition for Israel, who worked with Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum and the Friends of Zion Museum to make it a reality.
According to Hassan-Nahou, it is only fitting then that the world’s first indigenous embassy should be in Jerusalem, the city that colonial powers have tried to wrench from its indigenous people for generations.
“The main narrative of our haters is to try to separate the Jewish people from the Land of Israel. This is their strategy. This is their tactic,” she said. “First Peoples understand that the very definition of indigeneity is to be formed as a people in a land. The Jewish people became the Jewish people in this land. It is only by miracle that we survived out of this land, and it is only by a miracle, by tenacity, by much hard work and blood, sweat and tears that we returned. And now the strategy is to separate us from the land in which we were created.”
Referencing Zechariah 8:22, Hassan-Nahou concluded, “May this embassy be a forerunner for the day when all tribes and nations will come up to Jerusalem.”
The newly inaugurated embassy—the State of Israel’s 100th and the fifth to choose Jerusalem over Tel Aviv as its location—will be based in the Friends of Zion Museum in downtown Jerusalem. It boasts the buy-in from indigenous peoples from the four corners of the world, including American Samoa, Australia, Canada, Cook Islands, Fiji, Hawaii, Native American chiefs, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Tahiti, Taiwan and Tonga.
Posted on February 5, 2024
Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 5, 2023)
Photo Credit: McCoy Brown/BFP
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