Santa Fe prides itself on the city’s reputation as an art center and home to vibrant Native cultures. Why then should a Native-installed art exhibit on a stucco wall along the Santa Fe Trail cause such controversy (“Pro-Palestinian art appears on Old Pecos Trail wall,” Jan. 7)? Because it illuminates a truth that many people do not want to face? It offends people? It is anti-Semitic?

The truth is sometimes painful. One hundred years ago, in what is now known as the “Middle East,” Europeans drew lines on paper and called them borders. America has enforced those borders with military aid in the form of troops, weapons and obscene amounts of money.

In 1916, the French and British signed the Sykes-Picot agreement that carved up the “Middle East” for their respective countries. This agreement was quickly superseded by another, which established a mandate system of French and British control and was sanctioned by the newly formed League of Nations.

The Balfour Declaration and the British mandate over Palestine were approved by the League of Nations in 1922. Most Arabs opposed the Balfour Declaration over concerns that a Jewish homeland would mean the subjugation of Arab Palestinians. They were correct.

The British controlled Palestine until Israel, in the years following the end of World War II, was made an independent state in 1947.

The Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe), occurred when more than 700,000 Palestinian Arabs — about half of Palestine’s pre-World War II Arab population — were expelled from their homes during the 1948 war with Israel. Now these 700,000 and their descendants live in refugee camps spread throughout the region, while their occupiers, the settler-colonists, live in shining cities funded by U.S. tax dollars.

Today, Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has given Israel $142.3 billion in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although from 1971 to 2007 Israel also received significant economic assistance.

In 2016, the U.S. and Israeli governments signed a new 10-year memorandum of understanding on military aid, covering fiscal year 2019 to fiscal year 2028. Under the terms of the memorandum of understanding, the United States pledges to provide $38 billion in military aid ($33 billion in foreign military financing grants plus $5 billion in missile defense appropriations) to Israel. This memorandum of understanding replaced a previous $30 billion, 10-year agreement, which ran through fiscal year 2018.

Each year, approximately 500-700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12 years old, are detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system. The most common charge is stone throwing. It is unconscionable that “liberal” Americans can be so justifiably enraged that immigrant children are kept in cages at the U.S. border, but stay silent at Palestinian children being prosecuted and imprisoned in their own homelands.

Five centuries ago, in what is now known as the Americas, Europeans drew lines on paper and called them borders. America has enforced those borders — all the while forgetting their responsibilities to the original peoples of this land and the enslaved peoples who were brought here to build the infrastructure of this nation, a nation founded on genocide.

These are truths. The images on that stucco wall show the truth of settler colonialism and the effects it has on indigenous people. They were put there to show solidarity with our Palestinian relatives in the face of brutal occupation; to illuminate injustice and shed light on this nation’s complicity in Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people.

This is a wake-up call. This is Native land.

To those who defaced those murals: You are settlers on stolen land. Remember that.

Elena Ortiz is a Santa Fe resident, Ohkay Owingeh tribal member and chair of the

Red Nation-Santa Fe Freedom Council.

(6) comments

Abdul HaMamzer

There appears to be some incorrect assumptions made by the author to reach her conclusions. I understand that the author resonates with injustice against indigenous peoples, however the facts are that Palestinians are a racially Arab, that trace their origins to the Arabian peninsula. The Jewish people have continuously lived in Israel for over 3000 years. The Palestinians were a social construct that had, as its first leader, Cairo-born terrorist Yasser Arafat. There was never any distinct Palestinian-Arab language, history, culture or Kingdom. It should be clear to the author too that Hamas has a problem with Jews, not merely Israelis, calling for the death of all Jews. This fact is important as it provides insight into the bigger game, which is the eradication of Jews, not merely Israel.

Vadim Budman

This woman's lack of historical knowledge is appalling and and embarrassing. Whoever let this be printed as "fact" should be fired. All journalistsic integrity is lost.

Vadim Budman

The only thing that makes this woman's appalling lack of historical knowledge worse is that she is herself indigenous and should really know better.

Susan Young

This woman is so wrong. She erases 3000 years of Jewish history from the region. The Arabs are not the natives. They are the conquerors. They conquered the region,imposed Islam and arab culture and language on the indigenous people. Jews, kurds, berbers, assyrians are the indigenous people of the middle east and north africa. Jews returning to their ancestral land is not colonialism it is repatriation

Charles Andreoli

Actually it's not native land. While Reservations and Pueblos have been granted occupancy ultimate ownership belongs to the United States Government. Hard pill to swallow but the truth. As to the Jordainian people that call themselves Palestinians, they are their own worst enemy and the product of very poor leadership. And, nothing was stolen from you or them. Get a grip.

Susan Young

This woman is a revisionist, erasing 3000 years years of Jewish history from the middle east. The Arabs conquered this region imposing Islam, arab culture and language on the indigenous people among whom are Jews,berbers, kurds and assyrians. Arabs are the conquerors of the region. They are not the natives. Jews returning to their ancestral land is not colonialism. It is repatriation.

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