Land claims are a political land mine. Consider:
- During the 1800s the British in Canada made treaties with the indigenous people, then unilaterally abrogated them, confiscating 90% or more of the land back. They deliberately infected the entire indigenous population with small pox to kill off 90% of BC’s indigenous population, then confiscated their land. Today the indigenous people want all their land back and compensation for the ill treatment in residential schools.
- Jews in 1948 claimed most of the middle east based on the fact that Jews inhabited some of the area 2000 years ago and their religious text gave them title to it. Over 20 groups have occupied it since then. The Ashkenazi Jews making the claim had no genetic relation to the Semitic Jews who originally lived there. They invaded and killed, ousted or enslaved the Palestinian Arabs living there. The Jews claim that territory as irrevocably theirs because they won the 1948 war and the later 1967 war when they expanded their territory.
- The Palestinians claim territory taken from them by Jews in 1948. At the time the world powers had signed a treaty banning such land grabs, but they did not enforce it against the invading Jews. Their claim is based on the fact they occupied the area for at least 300 years prior to 1948. The Palestinian situation is similar to the land disputes in Canada. The difference is the theft of land took place a century further into the past in Canada. The South Africans visited Canada to study their apartheid system with indigenous people. They copied it for South Africa. The apartheid system in Israel is similar to both Canada’s and South Africa’s.
- During WWII (World War II), the Canadian government forced Japanese Canadians to abandon their homes and property (mostly fishing boats) and live in internment camps. Children of those affected demand compensation.
One thing that makes land claims most intractable is the demand for indirect compensation. People litigate not about what happened to them, but what happened to an ancestor. The more generations pass, the bigger the pool of descendants who can claim injury.
The other thing that makes land claims intractable is war. The Israelis feel the territories they took in war rightfully belong to them. The Palestinians believe the lands still rightfully belong to them. You have two farmers each believing they have title to the same plot of land. Each has a legal document to prove it.
Here is a small idea that might help settle such disputes. We decide that you cannot sue for torts done to an ancestor, only for wrongs to yourself. If you personally did not feel the pain, you have no right to compensation. However, if, for example, somebody bombed your father’s home and you were scheduled to inherit it, you could sue. That would be the general principle in settling land claims. Hopefully, this principle would stop land claims disputes for going on for centuries. If you could get people to agree to that logic, it could take a lot of emotional wind out of the disputes.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)