Saturday, May 11, 2013

It's Settler-Colonialism, Stupid!

It's hard to believe that, almost 100 years after Britain's Lord Balfour issued his infamous Balfour Declaration in 1917, many people are still abysmally ignorant of the fundamental nature of what is known as the Middle East or Arab-Israeli conflict.

For example, a dumbass Sydney Morning Herald reader sees a photograph of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies' Yair Miller and a Muslim Sheikh walking together in the grounds of Sydney's Rookwood Cemetery in Thursday's edition and pens the following dumbass letter, which an equally dumbass letters editor allows into print in yesterday's edition:

"It's good to hear that Jews and Muslims are to lie peacefully together in Rookwood ('Muslims, Jews on common ground in cemetery squeeze', May 9). A greater challenge will be for them to live peacefully together in Israel ('Israel puts brake on settlements', May 9)."

Both letter writer (John Byrne of Randwick) and editor thus do their bit to perpetuate the insidious misconception that the problem of Palestine is all about a clash of religions.

Nothing, I repeat nothing, could be further from the truth. For want of a little homework, Byrne and his enabler, are apparently unaware - surely the word settlements should give the game away? - that this 'conflict', for want of a better term, is all about land. IOW, at root (no pun intended), the Palestine/Israel problem is a settler-colonial problem.

Of course, today's Zionists loathe the very suggestion that their movement is merely another species of settler-colonialism, and the word 'colonialism' (and its derivatives) gets very short shrift with them indeed. But back in the first half of the 20th century, before Zionist ideologues had dreamt up the pernicious clash of civilizations/religions theory, and colonialism was nowhere near the dirty word it is today, Zionism's leading lights had no problem with the C-word.

Here, for example, is David Ben-Gurion, soon to be Israel's first PM, testifying before the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) in Jerusalem, on July 8, 1947:

Sir Abdur Rahman (India): And are there any Jewish colonies near the Syrian frontier?
Mr. Ben Gurion: Yes, there are.
Sir Abdur Rahman: How many and how far? Just give me the figures.
Mr. Ben Gurion: There are many Jews on the frontier. There is one colony outside the frontier of Lebanon. There is a colony where the frontier is in the middle of the colony. (

And here's Benjamin Netanyahu's ideological mentor, Vladimir Jabotinsky, making no bones about the Zionist COLONIZATION of Palestine in 1925:

"Zionist colonization... must either be terminated or carried out in defiance of the will of the native [Palestinian] population. This colonization can, therefore, continue and develop under the protection of a force independent of the local population - an iron wall which the native population cannot break through. This is, in toto, our policy towards the Arabs. To formulate it any other way would be hypocrisy." (Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of 'Transfer' in Zionist Political Thought, Nur Masalha, 1992, p 28)

And again, writing in his 1923 book The Iron Wall: We & the Arabs:

"If you wish to colonize a land in which people are already living, you must provide a garrison for the land, or find a benefactor who will maintain the garrison on your behalf... Zionism is a colonizing adventure and, therefore, it stands or falls on the question of armed force." (ibid, p 45)

But if history books are to John Byrne and the Herald letters editor what garlic is to Dracula, could I at least get them to to take a look at a new (at least for me) and interesting Facebook page, I Acknowledge Apartheid Exists? Sample: "If you do not know enough about the history of the [Israeli] occupation of Palestine then hold your tongue. It is laughable to believe that just because you've read a few mainstream media articles regarding Israel-Palestine you're in any way equipped to say who is the aggressor and who the victim."

Or maybe not, because its creator goes on to say: "Read a fucking book. You don't know where to begin? Here, I'll help you." He then goes on to list 5 of those book thingies. Maybe John Byrne should simply hold his tongue.

No comments: