Palestine: A Colonialism by Zionist Settlement

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778), Prisons of the Imagination, 1761.


The process of unilateral and asymmetrical invasion, which provokes resistance on the part of native peoples threatened with annihilation or displacement, can hardly be called a “conflict”.

The eruption of popular protests in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the confrontation between the Jewish and Palestinian communities in the territory of Israel, the launching of rockets by Hamas and the intense bombings by the armed forces of Israel have again shed light on the so-called Palestinian Question;

But how can we name these events? It has become customary in the media and even in many academic circuits to qualify these events as: Conflict, confrontation or even war between Israel and Palestine. In this sense, when a ceasefire occurs, involving the government of Israel and Hamas, the ´´humanists´´ breathe a sigh of relief, because ´Peace´´ has been restored. It is also common for people to refer to the ´´two sides´.

But, reality is stubborn and it is impossible to hide it for long. Well, the FSP ( FSP – ´On the 1st day of the ceasefire, Gaza measures damage and removes 5 bodies of rubble ´ 21.May.2021 ) tried, but in the middle matter it is possible to find the ´´both sides´´ in concrete state without quibbling. Samira Abdallah Naseer. ''I don't agree to a truce. What is truce? What does it mean?” said the mother of 11 as she sat near the wreckage of a building in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip.

Let's go to the other side now. Student Dan Kiri, 25, in a cafe in the Israeli city of Ashdod, wants Israel to keep attacking Gaza. “The fact that we are sitting here peacefully drinking coffee and eating our croissant is only a matter of time before the next operation in Gaza.”

There are also two sides to social and economic issues. — estimate of the cost of rebuilding Gaza, with 243 dead (55 children) where nearly 17 houses were destroyed this around tens of millions of dollars. But a military offensive could jeopardize Israel's economic recovery. Yeah, Israel spent a lot on bombs and had 12 dead. But even rebuilding, Gaza will go back to what it was. That is, a territory surrounded by land and sea with 70% of the population living below the poverty line.

If the problem is a dispute between two countries or a civil war between two nationalisms, then a conflict resolution model, an agreement, a dialogue can solve it. But, is that what it's about?

To understand this long process it is necessary to go back to the origins. In 1947, when the UN established the division of Palestine, the Jews who owned 7% of the territory now own 56%. Around 80% of the Palestinian people were deprived of their homes, land and businesses. About 70% of all land owned by Palestinians prior to 1948 and about 60% of land owned by Palestinians who remained and became Israeli citizens were confiscated. Some 370 Jewish towns and villages established by the Israeli government between 1948 and 1953 were built on land confiscated from Palestinians. Between 1949 and 1966, Israel subjected most Palestinians to Israel's military rule, confined them to dozens of enclaves and severely restricted their movements.

Therefore, the occupation of territory, the expulsion of Palestinians and the apartheid regime did not start in 1967, as the ´´Left Zionists´´ believe, and has continued without ceasing even after the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993. the Palestinian Authority (PA), led by Fatah, has very limited sovereignty over a territory equivalent to 10% of what was Historic Palestine. The total number of houses demolished after Oslo was 4, displacing 22 people. Nearly 60 homes and livelihood structures have been demolished by Israel in the Occupied Territories since 1967. Today, Israel has more than quadrupled its settler population, from 115.600 in 1993 to over 600.000 today.

Massive waves of expulsion and displacement, especially in 1948 and 1967, generated a refugee population of 7,2 million people. 4,3 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants displaced in 1948 live mainly in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. Furthermore, Israel continues to generate new refugees every day.

Is this the Peace we long for?

Now, why not understand this process as a form of colonialism? More specifically, settler colonialism, which we prefer to call Colonialism by Settlement, that is, non-immigrant settlers who arrive in a territory with the intention of replacing the native population. This true invasion can be gradual and not necessarily using violent means, at least in its initial stages, as was Zionism in Palestine in the 30's. native. A true “logic of elimination” inherent in all colonial projects that aim at the “disappearance” of natives through displacement, marginalization, assimilation or genocide.

Of course, this type of colonialism generates an inevitable conflict between the usurping settlers and the native population. Therefore, it is about two “sides” fighting for different interests or agendas. A true colonial struggle in which the natives are victims, not the other “side”. In fact, it is an expendable population, which must be “eliminated”, if not physically annihilated, at least reduced to a marginal presence in which they become incapable of building a life in an autonomous nation.

This process of unilateral and asymmetrical invasion, which provokes resistance on the part of native peoples threatened with annihilation or displacement, can hardly be called a “conflict”. Thus, instead of calling it an “Israeli/Palestinian Conflict, it is much more appropriate to speak of a Zionist Settlement Colonialism.

*Reginaldo Nasser Professor of International Relations at PUC/SP, author, among other books, of New perspectives on international conflicts (Unesp).

Originally published on PUC Viva magazine (28 / 5 / 2021).



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