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Hawaiian Sovereignty, Zionism, and Governor Lingle (Informal Version) -- Lingle's main motive for supporting the Akaka bill, OHA, race-based entitlements, and Kamehameha Schools' racially exclusionary admissions policy is her strong support for Zionism and her belief that the Hawaiian sovereignty movement is comparable to the struggle to establish and maintain a Jewish nation of Israel.

(c) Copyright December 3, 2008 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved

Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle has repeatedly and zealously done everything she can to support race-based political power for ethnic Hawaiians (Akaka bill); and she has consistently supported government and private institutions providing racially exclusionary benefits to them (OHA, Kamehameha Schools, Papa Ola Lokahi, Alu Like, etc.). I have always wondered why. When asked about it, she says simply "Hawaiians should decide for themselves whether to create their own government." (But what about the rights of the rest of Hawaii's people?) or "I made a promise when campaigning for Governor and I am keeping my word." (But she has broken other promises, so why not this one?) Her answers are superficial, and always left me wondering what is actually motivating her.

But then a letter to editor from two Kamehameha School graduates opened my eyes. They said Lingle had spoken with the Kamehameha alumni group during the 2002 campaign, explaining that as a Jew she sees the ethnic Hawaiian pursuit of sovereignty in the same way she sees the historical drive to create and sustain the nation of Israel. The letter writers made it very clear that this was not merely their interpretation, it was what Lingle had actually said.

This essay will do the following: Quote what the Kamehameha alumni said candidate Lingle had told them; Provide evidence that Lingle is indeed strongly motivated by her commitment to Zionism; Explain a few similarities and differences between support for Israel vs. support for Hawaiian sovereignty; Explain why Governor Lingle is misguided in equating those two things. In any case it is inappropriate for the Governor of a state to use her own religious views as the primary basis for shaping the most important public policy issue we face, and also inappropriate to support establishment of a race-based government in Hawaii whose most zealous supporters use their own religion as their primary basis for asserting a right to create a race-based government.


A letter to editor that appeared in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin of November 29, 2008 and also in the Honolulu Advertiser of December 1, provided valuable information about Linda Lingle's religious motivation for supporting Hawaiian sovereignty. Bob and Paulette Moore, Kamehameha Schools '53/'52, were writing to complain about Lingle's support for the State of Hawaii's appeal of a ceded lands decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Moores said Lingle had promised in 2002 to support ethnic Hawaiians, but in supporting the state's current appeal "Lingle now dances a different jig. ... See how Lingle easily bends, how she gracefully spins, how she cleverly twists. She shames herself. Auwe."

Here's the most important part of the letter, showing Lingle's true motives for her 6-year history as a Hawaiian sovereignty activist:

"In 2002 when Linda Lingle first aspired to governorship, she met with the I Mua group to stress her inherent kinship with Hawaiian causes. Lingle made clear the unique value that the Israel homeland represents to world Jewry, with bindings of history, culture, ancestry and genealogy, a profound relationship beyond simple geography or real estate. She articulated clearly her parallel appreciation of the singular reverence that the aina invokes in kanaka maoli, whence is imbedded their connections of culture, religion, common beliefs, customs and mores."


It's easy to prove that Linda Lingle herself is a strong supporter of Zionism -- political sovereignty in Israel for Jews as a racial/religious group. Not all Jews are Zionists. There is great diversity among Jews regarding how strongly they support Israel, and the extent to which they believe U.S. foreign policy should be shaped primarily by our alliance with Israel. Governor Lingle apparently puts Zionism at the top of her international concerns. But more importantly for her as Governor of Hawaii and for us as citizens, her commitment to Zionism leads her to support race-based political sovereignty for ethnic Hawaiians because she believes the two are closely similar. Some writers for Israeli newspapers and American Zionist groups apparently also see such a similarity.

Three days after Lingle won the election in 2002, the Hadassah organization proudly published a news release saying "She is Hawaii’s first woman governor, its first Jewish governor – and the only chief executive of a state to become a life member of Hadassah at her own initiative." Hadassah describes itself this way: "the Women's Zionist Organization of America is the largest women's, largest Zionist, and largest Jewish membership organization in the United States."

An article was published in Haaretz, a major newspaper in Israel, noting with pride that Lingle is Jewish, and that she is the first female head of government in Hawaii since Liliuokalani. The title of the newspaper article was: "Hawaii's Jewish Queen." The lengthy article included the following: "Throughout the campaign, she spoke about Israel, which she has never visited ... but she told reporters that she gave money every week to plant trees in Israel. She has also talked about how Israel is a safe haven where Jews can go in times of trouble and how support for Israel is imperative. ... She was vague about everything having to do with separation of church and state ... Some of Lingle's supporters see her as a modern reincarnation of the islands' last queen, Liliuokalani. ... Today, 110 years after the queen's abdication and nine years after the American apology, some perceive Lingle's election as amending a historic injustice and like to think of the governor-elect as stepping into the deposed queen's shoes."

Governor Lingle fulfilled a lifelong dream by making her first trip to Israel in May 2004. The Jewish Journal of May 13 reported: "Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle is stopping in Los Angeles this week before embarking on a six-day trip to Israel. ... Lingle, a Jewish Republican, accepted the Golda Meir Award at a State of Israel Bonds luncheon on Thursday at the Four Seasons ..."


The Jewish religion says that God made a covenant with Abraham whereby God gave the promised land of Israel to the descendants of Abraham through Isaac (i.e., the Jews) in return for Abraham's promise to require Jews to obey the Ten Commandments and other special laws. Thus Jews have an absolute God-given right to control the government of Israel, its land, laws, and population -- not only a right, but a responsibility to God to be good stewards of what God has entrusted to them.

The Hawaiian religion is not based on a covenant but on a family relationship where the gods, the ethnic Hawaiians, and the Hawaiian islands are all members of a family bound together by genealogy. According to Kumulipo (the creation legend) the gods mated and gave birth to the Hawaiian islands as living beings filled with mana (spiritual power). Later the gods mated and gave birth to a human boy Haloa. Hawaiian sovereignty activists say Haloa is the primordial ancestor from whom all ethnic Hawaiians are descended (a more generous view is that Haloa is the ancestor of all human beings, like the Biblical Adam). Therefore, say the Hawaiian activists, there is a genealogical relationship in which anyone with a drop of Hawaiian blood is a child of the gods and a (younger) brother to the Hawaiian islands in a way that nobody else can ever be who lacks a drop of the magic blood. Therefore, according to this religion, ethnic Hawaiians are entitled by birth to exercise race-based political authority over all the lands and waters of Hawaii. It's a family kuleana (right and responsibility) in which the elder brother (Hawaiian islands) supervises, protects, inspires, and feeds the younger brother (ethnic Hawaiians), while the younger brother obeys commands and performs duties to ensure the happiness and productivity of the older brother. "He ali'i ka 'aina, he kauwa ke kanaka" -- Land is the chief, people are its humble servants.

The relationship between ethnic Hawaiians and the lands of Hawaii is actually stronger than the relationship between Israel and the Jews, according to their respective religious theories. The Hawaiian relationship between people and land is hard-wired through genealogy and can never be severed. But the Jewish relationship to Israel is part of a covenant with God which means that God can kick the Jews out of Israel if they fail to perform their duties under the covenant (which has happened several times historically).

On November 10, 1975 the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 3379 by a vote of 72 to 35 (with 32 abstentions) declaring that "Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination." Sixteen years later, on December 16, 1991, the U.N. General Assembly passed a new resolution by a vote of 111 to 25 (with 13 abstentions) rescinding the previous resolution, as a way of encouraging Israel to negotiate for peace with its neighbors. "Zionism is racism" is a controversy which continues today.

Whatever anyone might think about Zionism, it's much more clear that both main branches of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement are proposals for racism in Hawaii.

The Akaka bill says everyone with a single drop of Hawaiian native blood is eligible to join the tribe, and nobody without that blood can join. In the case of Kamehameha School admission, we saw that Hawaiian activists refused to acknowledge that Brayden Mohica Cummings was eligible even though his mother had been hanai (adopted) to a Hawaiian family. Thus, being Hawaiian is entirely about race and not about religion or cultural practices. By contrast, most denominations of Judaism allow people with no Jewish ancestry to convert to Judaism, whereupon the nation of Israel recognizes them as Jews with a right to go to Israel and become citizens with full voting rights the moment they step off the plane.

Proposals for an independent nation of Hawaii which include a constitution have rigged the voting system to guarantee that the head of government, a majority in the legislature, and all judges must be ethnic Hawaiian; and certain topics are for ethnic Hawaiians alone to decide (foreign policy, immigration, land use). By contrast, Israel allows all citizens, including Palestinian Muslim Arabs, to vote and hold office (although Israel vigorously encourages immigration of Jews from throughout the world and adjustment of its borders to ensure a Jewish majority). Even those Hawaiian independence activists who propose a seemingly democratic multiracial Hawaii with full voting rights nevertheless subscribe to a theory that international law requires special rights for "indigenous" people (i.e., racial supremacy for ethnic Hawaiians). An example of such a nation is Fiji, where several military coups in recent years have overthrown democratically elected governments in order to protect racial supremacy by law for ethnic Fijians over ethnic Indians.

Hawaiian activists draw upon the language of racial victimhood to portray themselves as needing sovereignty. Jews have repeatedly suffered outrageous discrimination and actual genocide, most notably during World War 2. Following that war, a world filled with well-deserved guilt felt it necessary to make amends by carving out a portion of Palestine to create a nation of Israel in its ancient ancestral homeland, where Jews from around the world could go to feel safe. Hawaiian activists abuse the word "genocide" to describe the large number of Hawaiian natives who died from diseases inadvertently and unintentionally brought to Hawaii by explorers and immigrants, hoping to make Caucasians and Asians feel that Hawaiians need their own government. With the collapse of ancient Israel and Judea, a population diaspora scattered probably more than 95% of Jews far and wide throughout the world under threat of slaughter if they tried to remain. Hawaiian activists now abuse the word "diaspora" to describe the fact that 40% of ethnic Hawaiians have freely chosen to live in the other 49 states where economic opportunity and lack of race-based government handouts spur them to achieve higher incomes and better health than the average for their state of residence.


It's unfortunate that Governor Lingle does not grasp the fundamental differences between the justifications for a race-based nation of Israel (which many people will disagree with anyway), vs. the lack of justification for either the race-based Akaka bill or the ethnic nationalist independent nation of Hawaii.

Although ethnic Hawaiians are a 20% minority in their own ancestral homeland, they live, work, play, and pray alongside everyone else and achieve all levels, including the highest, in income, politics, business and professional occupations -- unlike the Jews in Europe, America, and even Palestine during previous centuries of oppression.

Hawaiian activists actually claim that they enjoy special advantages not available to other ethnic groups in Hawaii, because ethnic Hawaiians are living in their ancestral homeland where they are in touch with their ancestral spirits and also can perceive spiritual messages in the sea and sky which others who lack a drop of the magic blood are oblivious to. Here's what Hawaiian "cultural practitioner" Butch Helemano said in his TV commercial for the Kau Inoa racial registry: "Well basically, you know, being Hawaiian allows me to look at the world with a different perspective than others that aren't. In other words we can look at the sea and look at it as a place of sacredness and look at the sky as a place that we hear and look for messages so don't forget who we are and your culture cuz that's the most important thing here as a Native Hawaiian."

One good way to view Hawaiian sovereignty is to put it in the same category with other sovereignty movements proposing to balkanize and break apart the United States along racial lines. An organization called MEChA is active in several Western states, proposing a Nation of Aztlan for all the territory that was formerly part of Mexico and populated by people with at least one drop of Aztec or Mayan blood. The Nation of New Africa proposes that at least five Southern states should become the homeland for America's people having at least one drop of African blood, including huge amounts of land and money as reparations for slavery. Another way to view Hawaiian sovereignty is to put it in the same category with other nations primarily defined by religion; for example the Islamic Republic of Iran, or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Governor Lingle, a Jew, feels a bond with the nation of Israel. She strongly supports Zionism -- the belief that the Jewish race/religion is entitled to have a nation for itself where Jews can feel safe and can choose their own national destiny. She mistakenly believes the Hawaiian sovereignty movement has the same justifications as Zionism. But the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from establishing a religion. Governor Lingle should not use her own zeal for Zionism as a motive for pushing the establishment of a race-based government under the Akaka bill. And she should not use her power as Governor to support the establishment of a government based on a religious theory that sees ethnic Hawaiians as entitled to racial supremacy on account of their genetic relationship with their gods and with the Hawaiian islands.


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(c) Copyright December 3, 2008 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved