Zionist Settler Colonialism and the Decolonization of Palestine: Articles

Said, Edward. “Permission to Narrate.” Journal of Palestine Studies, vol. 13, no. 3, 1984, pp. 27–48. 

Excerpt: “The unique thing about this situation is Palestine’s unusual centrality, which privileges a Western master narrative, highlighting Jewish alienation and redemption-with all of it taking place as a modern spectacle before the world’s eyes. So that when Palestinians are told to stop complaining and to settle elsewhere like other refugees before them, they are entitled to respond that no other refugees have been required systematically to watch an unending ceremony of public approbation for the political movement, army or country that made them refugees and occupies their territory. Occupying armies, as Chomsky observes, do not as a rule “bask in the admiration of American intellectuals for their unique and remarkable commitment to ‘purity of arms’.” To top it all, Palestinians are expected to participate in the dismantling of their own history at the same time as long as discussions of Palestine and Israel are conducted on this level, the superior force of the ideological consensus I have been describing will prevail. Palestinians will initially have to play the major role in changing the consensus and, alas characteristically, they have not been very successful. I recall during the siege of Beirut obsessively telling friends and family there, over the phone, that they ought to record, write down their experiences; it seemed crucial as a starting-point to furnish the world some narrative evidence, over and above atomized and reified TV clips, of what it was like to be at the receiving end of Israeli “anti- terrorism,” also known as “Peace for Galilee.” Naturally, they were all far too busy surviving to take seriously the unclear theoretical imperatives being urged on them intermittently by a distant son, brother or friend. As a result, most of the easily available written material produced since the fall of Beirut has in fact not been Palestinian and, just as significant, it has been of a fairly narrow range of types: a small archive to be discussed in terms of absences and gaps-in terms either pre-narrative or, in a sense, anti-narrative. The archive speaks of the depressed condition of the Palestinian narrative at present.” 

The Morning After (1993) by Edward Said (https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v15/n20/edward-said/the-morning-after)

Excerpt: “Now that some of the euphoria has lifted, it is possible to re-examine the Israeli-PLO agreement with the required common sense. What emerges from such scrutiny is a deal that is more flawed and, for most of the Palestinian people, more unfavorably weighted than many had first supposed. The fashion-show vulgarities of the White House ceremony, the degrading spectacle of Yasser Arafat thanking everyone for the suspension of most of his people’s rights, and the fatuous solemnity of Bill Clinton’s performance, like a 20th-century Roman emperor shepherding two vassal kings through rituals of reconciliation and obeisance: all these only temporarily obscure the truly astonishing proportions of the Palestinian capitulation. So first of all let us call the agreement by its real name: an instrument of Palestinian surrender, a Palestinian Versailles. What makes it worse is that for at least the past fifteen years the PLO could have negotiated a better arrangement than this modified Allon Plan, one not requiring so many unilateral concessions to Israel. For reasons best known to the leadership it refused all previous overtures. To take one example of which I have personal knowledge: in the late Seventies, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance asked me to persuade Arafat to accept Resolution 242 with a reservation (accepted by the US) to be added by the PLO which would insist on the national rights of the Palestinian people as well as Palestinian self-determination. Vance said that the US would immediately recognize the PLO and inaugurate negotiations between it and Israel. Arafat categorically turned the offer down, as he did similar offers. Then the Gulf War occurred, and because of the disastrous positions it took then, the PLO lost even more ground. The gains of the intifada were squandered, and today advocates of the new document say: ‘We had no alternative.’ The correct way of phrasing that is: ‘We had no alternative because we either lost or threw away a lot of others, leaving us only this one.’ In order to advance towards Palestinian self-determination – which has a meaning only if freedom, sovereignly and equality, rather than perpetual subservience to Israel, are its goal – we need an honest acknowledgment of where we are, now that the interim agreement is about to be negotiated. What is particularly mystifying is how so many Palestinian leaders and their intellectuals can persist in speaking of the agreement as a ‘victory’. Nabil Shaath has called it one of ‘complete parity’ between Israelis and Palestinians. The fact is that Israel has conceded nothing, as former Secretary Of State James Baker said in a TV interview, except, blandly, the existence of ‘the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people’. Or as the Israeli ‘dove’ Amos Oz reportedly put it in the course of a BBC interview, ‘this is the second biggest victory in the history of Zionism.’”  

What is Settler Colonialism (2012) by Maya Mikdashi   (https://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/26604)

Excerpt: “Settler colonialism is criminalization: Drunks, drug addicts, and terrorists. It is the miscreant, the danger and the distrust in Lid, in Sabra, and on the Bad River Reservation. It is how these spaces open up to others where the good native and the good Palestinian reside. It is minority scholarships given to those who have maybe been once to a reservation, but have the requisite blood quota to allow a university to claim diversity points. It is referring to settler ancestors as “immigrants” without a second thought or any ill intention. It is the American, and the Israeli, dream. It is the bliss of an untroubled mind.  

Settler colonialism is an inherited silence where you know memories are supposed to be. It is knowing that these memories have been purposely excised due to pain and the hope for a better future, if only the next generation could just forget. It is a man aging into regret for having shut out his children and grandchildren from his life and the lives of his loved ones. It is his granddaughter wanting to go back in time to beat up whoever called him names in grade school. It is finding papers, land allotments and photos of relatives who “look Indian” that you have never seen because they were in a locked suitcase for decades. It is watching these photos, wondering about the names of these people and knowing that even if you knew the names you would not know how to pronounce them or understand what meaning they were supposed to impart. It is understanding that these family documents and photos could belong to a museum, and that they would tell the twinned story of genocide and nation building. It is thinking that your brother has the same shaped eyes as a great-great grandmother, and then admonishing yourself for seeing things that are not, and cannot be, there. It is waiting to feel something beyond anger and guilt, and feeling consumed by the weight of waiting. 

Settler colonialism is uncertainty, looking for someone to share this uncertainty with and finding that the people around you are no longer interested in reflection and are perplexed that you have all of these questions. They are tired of all this past, all these half-truths and quarter memories. It is feeling denied, but not knowing what you were denied of and having no way of finding out. It is feeling guilty for having questions, wondering “Do I have the right to feel what I am feeling?” It is self-berating. estrangement, and the gulf that opens when a sign remains but the referent is lost. It is being haunted on a highway as the names of towns that carry the mark of vanquished peoples pass by too quickly to memorize or write down. It is the proliferation of division, between gringos, mixed bloods and Indians, and between Palestinian Israelis, Palestinians, Palestinian refugees and Palestinian citizens (and refugees) of first world countries. It is the seduction of passing as white, as straight, as a “good and moderate Palestinian,” as not poor. It is a desire to be recognized as what others recognize as normal.” 

The Erasure of Palestinians from Trump‘s Mideast “Peace Plan” has a Hundred Years History (2020) by Rashid Khalidi (https://theintercept.com/2020/02/01/hundred-years-war-palestine-book-rashid-khalidi/)

Excerpt: “The Erasure of the Palestinians on display this week as President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled a one-sided “vision for peace” might have been an unusually blatant act of disregard, but it was in no way new. The omission is the essence of the conflict. I was reminded of this back in the early 1990s, when I lived in Jerusalem for several months at a time, doing research in the private libraries of some of the city’s oldest families, including my own. I spent over a year going through dusty worm-eaten books, documents, and letters belonging to generations of Khalidis, among them my great-great-great uncle, Yusuf Diya al-Din Pasha al-Khalidi. Through his papers, I discovered a worldly man with a broad education acquired in Jerusalem, Malta, Istanbul, and Vienna. He was the heir to a long line of Jerusalemite Islamic scholars and legal functionaries, but at a young age, Yusuf Diya sought a different path for himself. After absorbing the fundamentals of a traditional Islamic education, he left Palestine at the age of 18 — without his father’s approval, we are told — to spend two years at a British Church Mission Society school in Malta. From there, he went to study at the Imperial Medical School in Istanbul, after which he attended the city’s Robert College, recently founded by American Protestant missionaries. For five years during the 1860s, Yusuf Diya attended some of the first institutions in the Middle East that provided a modern, Western-style education, learning English, French, German, and much else. With this broad training, Yusuf Diya filled various roles as an Ottoman government official: translator in the Foreign Ministry, consult in the Russian Black Sea port of Poti, governor of districts from Kurdistan to Syria, and mayor of Jerusalem for nearly a decade. He was also elected as the deputy from Jerusalem to the short-lived Ottoman parliament established in 1876, and he did stints teaching at the Royal Imperial University in Vienna. As a result of his wide reading, as well as his time in Vienna and other European countries, and from his encounters with Christian missionaries, Yusuf Diya was fully conscious of the pervasiveness and virulence of European anti-Semitism. He had also gained impressive knowledge of the intellectual origins of Zionism, and he was undoubtedly familiar with “Der Judenstaat,” or “The Jewish State,” by the Viennese journalist Theodor Herzl, published in 1896, and was aware of the first two Zionist congresses in Basel, Switzerland, in 1897 and 1898. Moreover, as mayor of Jerusalem, he had witnessed the friction with the local population prompted by the first years of proto-Zionist activity, starting with the arrival of the first European Jewish settlers in the late 1870s and early 1880s. Yusuf Diya would have been more aware than most of his compatriots in Palestine of the ambition of the nascent Zionist movement, as well as its strength, resources, and appeal. He knew perfectly well that there was no way to reconcile Zionism’s claims on Palestine and its explicit aim of Jewish statehood and sovereignty there with the rights and well-being of Palestine’s Indigenous inhabitants. On March 1, 1899, Yusuf Diya sent a prescient seven-page letter to the French chief rabbi, Zadoc Kahn, with the intention that it be passed on to the founder of modern Zionism.”

Roundtable on Anti-Blackness, and Black-Palestinian Solidarity moderated (2015) by Noura Erakat  (https://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/32145)

Excerpt: “In the course of resilience against the merciless edge of state violence in the summer 2014, protestors in Ferguson held up signs declaring solidarity with the people of Palestine. In turn, Palestinians posted pictures on social media with instructions of how to treat the inhalation of tear gas. Organically, an analysis emerged highlighting similarities, but not sameness, of Black and Palestinian life, and more aptly, of their survival. But before the violent and tragic events of summer 2014 unfolded, a critique of anti-Black racism among Arab communities in the United States and the Arab world had emerged putting into question the “natural” solidarity between Palestinians and Blacks. This often played out in competing claims in regards to Black solidarity and legacies of Black liberation struggles by Zionists and Palestinians, who among themselves are not necessarily in agreement. In turn, Black writers and activists responded to those claims with rejection, ambivalence, or affirmation based on different normative values. These interventions seemed to speak past one another for lack of a singular point of departure. Does the question of Black solidarity turn on a political commitment to combat white supremacy? Can that be done, even if victims of supremacist violence knowingly, or unknowingly, reify anti-blackness? If not, what is the proper response? If so, what is the proper response? At the core of these exchanges is an unequivocal recognition of the value of Black solidarity and Black liberation legacies that has not been commensurate with an appreciation for ongoing struggles against structural and literal violence afflicting Black communities the world over. This dissonance thus embodies the risk of reproducing anti-blackness and occluding responsibility for it. In so doing, the critique has also given rise to interesting questions about race, race-formation, and racism in the Arab world. Could a US-based anti-racist framework be applied indiscriminately across space? Does such a question fundamentally misunderstand the thrust of anti-blackness? What could be gained by clarifying the meaning of anti-blackness, often read as a stand-in for one form of racism rather than a framework that informs how the nation-state comes to embody technologies of power, coercion, and violence that determine death and the possibilities of life? By extension, and based on these competing understandings, how does a lack of critical engagement with the meanings of solidarity also risk reifying anti-blackness? And how could a politics committed to liberation beyond the possibilities of state reformation serve as a corrective? ” 

Efforts to blame BDS for anti-Semitism thwarted by facts (2020) by Ali Abunimah (https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/effort-blame-bds-anti-semitism-thwarted-facts)

Description: “The campaign by Israel and its lobby to smear their critics as anti-Semites goes back decades. But in recent years, this tactic has intensified its breach of all bounds of decency and regard for the truth. Among the more egregious examples have been the attempts to shift blame for the murders of Jews by neo-Nazis onto the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for Palestinian rights. For instance, after a white supremacist’s shooting rampage that killed one person at a synagogue in Poway, California, in April 2019, the Zionist Organization of America and other Israel advocates tried to implicate Students for Justice in Palestine and other campus critics of Israel – who had absolutely nothing to do with the attack and who had never attacked any Jewish institutions whatsoever. The pattern has been clear: Some Israel lobby groups exploit the suffering of Jews at the hands of actual anti-Semites in order to discredit, smear and muzzle critics of Israel’s violent, racist practices against Palestinians. These policies have included decades of military occupation, land theft and colonization, repeated massacres of Palestinian civilians and a deepening system of apartheid. The habitual claim that the Palestine solidarity movement, particularly at universities, is a hotbed of anti-Semitism paved the way for the executive order issued by President Donald Trump last December. That order heralded an intensification of federal government inquisitions and harassment against students and faculty who advocate for Palestinian rights or study Israel’s history. But there is simply no evidence of rampant anti-Semitism on US campuses, particularly related to Palestine solidarity, according to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League. This is a significant finding given that the ADL is one of the foremost Israel lobby groups, which partners with Israeli organizations to strategize about how to suppress support for Palestinian rights. The finding is contained in the ADL’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents for 2019.” 

Of Course Israel Exports Arms and Policing Practices – It Has Spent Decades ‘Battle-Testing’ Them on Palestinians (2020) by Riya Al’sanah and Rafeef Ziadah (https://novaramedia.com/2020/07/07/of-course-israel-exports-arms-and-policing-practices-it-has-spent-decades-battle-testing-them-on-palestinians/)

Excerpt: “For private companies, having a relationship with Israel’s military and security apparatus is a selling point. Occupied Jerusalem has become a showroom for urban surveillance technology and policing practices. Police and homeland security services from all over the world flock to the city to learn and be impressed by the latest techniques of population surveillance.

In 2016, Israel’s police spokesperson at the time, Mickey Rosenfeld said:

“Over the last few years there have been dozens of delegations and different organizations, from European security and law enforcement, homeland security and representatives from the [United] States, who have come and examined how the system works to learn how to use it overseas.” 

Israeli companies involved in visual surveillance, facial and sound recognition technology, boast software that can “predict to prevent”, and has the ability to detect the “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. This amounts to the criminalisation of every Palestinian, like 32-year-old Iyad el-Hallaq, who was chased and executed as he was on his way to a special needs school in Jerusalem’s Old City.  Israel’s underwater and concrete walls surrounding besieged Gaza, along with its apartheid Wall, have become a showcase for border control and patrol technology and hardware. It is no coincidence that when Donald Trump brings up his infamous border wall, Israel’s wall is considered his model. On the other hand, the network of military checkpoints crisscrossing the West Bank is a constant display of surveillance technologies and movement control. The required biometric technology is marketed to border crossings internationally. Israeli companies are selling more than a set of products. They are marketing experience, expertise and a self-conception rooted in a colonial project. What is sold is essentially Israel’s decades of experience in repressing Palestinians.”

Invention, Memory, and Place (2000) by Edward W. Said

Excerpt: “Memory and its representations touch very significantly upon questions of identity, of nationalism, of power and authority. Far from being a neutral exercise in facts and basic truths, the study of history, which of course is the underpinning of memory, both in school and university, is to some considerable extent a nationalist effort premised on the need to construct a desirable loyalty to and insider’s understanding of one’s country, tradition, and faith… These remarks immediately transport us to the vexed issue of nationalism and national identity, of how memories of the past are shaped in accordance with a certain notion of what “we” or, for that matter, “they” really are. National identity always involves narratives-of the nation’s past, its founding fathers and documents, seminal events, and so on. But these narratives are never undisputed or merely a matter of the neutral recital of facts. In the United States, for example, 1492 was celebrated very differently by people who saw themselves as victims of Columbus’s advent-people of color, minorities, members of the working class, people, in a word, who claimed they had a different collective memory of what in most schools was celebrated as a triumph of advancement and the collective march forward of humanity.”

Black-Palestinian Transnational Solidarity: Renewals, Returns, and Practice (2019) by Noura Erakat and Marc Lamont Hill

Description: This introductory essay outlines the context for this special issue of the Journal of Palestine Studies on Black-Palestinian transnational solidarity (BPTS). Through the analytic of “renewal,” the authors point to the recent increase in individual and collective energies directed toward developing effective, reciprocal, and transformative political relationships within various African-descendant and Palestinian communities around the world. Drawing from the extant BPTS literature, this essay examines the prominent intellectual currents in the field and points to new methodologies and analytics that are required to move the field forward. With this essay, the authors aim not only to contextualize the field and to frame this special issue, but also to chart new directions for future intellectual and political work.

Zionism as Colonialism: A Comparative View of Diluted Colonialism in Asia and Africa (2008) by Ilan Pappé

Excerpt: “I will argue that Zionist settlers—indeed, Zionist thought and praxis were motivated by a national impulse but acted as pure colonialists. Such an argument has not been easily accepted until today in the United States and Israel.The immigration of Jews from (mainly eastern) Europe to the heart of the Arab Middle East is still depicted today in those places as a
pure nationalist enterprise, and any attempt to attribute colonialist features to it is rejected out of hand. This is a bewildering phenomenon in the age of professional historiography. Zionism was not, after all, the only case in
history in which a colonialist project was pursued in the name of national or otherwise noncolonialist ideals. Zionists relocated to Palestine at the end of a century in which Europeans controlled much of Africa, the Caribbean, and other places in the name of “progress” or idealism not unfamiliar to the Zionist movement. It happened in a century when French settlers colonized Algeria, claiming an atavist and emotional link to the Algerian soil no less profound than the one professed by the early Zionists with regard to Eretz Yisrael. Similarly, the cynical reassurances of the Zionist settlers to the native population were heard before by British settlers in Africa and Asia. Like the Zionists, the colonies built by Europeans in these continents were allegedly for the benefit of the local people. As it turned out, the colonies became imperialist communities serving only the strategic interests of European powers and the settlers themselves. In the period of the white man’s penetration into Africa and Asia, the Jews “returned” to their “homeland.”