on November 4, 2006
The struggle between Israel and Palestinians isn't unique, and here Lorenzo Veracini argues that an understanding of the foundations of colonialist thought is necessary to understand the methods, concerns and results of Israel, a settler society like so many others. Other colonial regimes are examined in the course of Veracini's analysis of the dynamics of colonist thought, which refutes popular myths of the origins of Israeli-Palestinian disputes.
This book quotes Albert Memmi but doesnt seem to have read his other essay "who is a Jewish Arab?" which explains the ill treatment and colonializing of North Africa by Arabs and suppression of the antive Jewish minority who lived there, Memmi being one of them.
Israel is indeed a nation of immigrants. However it is not like South Africa or Australia or Algeria. In South Africa a white minority dominated an African majority using race laws. In Australia the european immigrants came to outnnumber and mostly exterminate the local inhabitants. In Algeria he French colonists eventually left. Israel may have similar themes to all three but it is not similar completely to any of these situations. The Palestinians, unlike the American Indian or Aboriginal, was not decimited by warfare or Disease. In 1947 there were 1.2 million Palestinians, today their are 9 million. The Palestinian Arab is also not the majority in Israel and he is no subject to race laws because he is not a seperate race from many of the Jews who are themselves of Arab/North African descent like Albert Memmi. Perhaps aspects of the settler society of the West Bank has comparisons to Algeria but behind the Green Line the situation is 100% different. THis model of using other situations, such as 'Apartheid' and words like 'racialization' do no justice to the issues in Israel and Palestine, instead they degrade the actual facts and history in order to lend themselves to propoganda. Rather than analyzing honestly how Israel fits in it simply adds hate to the fire. One might recall that in 1944 Konigsberg was 100% German and after 1947 was 100% Russian. But this is not readily called a case of ethnic cleansing and aparthied. Sometimes populations change and it has very little to do with colonialism. After all Israel was colonized by the English.
A problematic account.
Seth J. Frantzman
on March 16, 2006
It seems that whenever Israelis get killed, the author taunts them and calls them colonial. He starts right out by quoting some Israelis who complain that Levantine Arabs are being very unreasonable and counterproductive by adopting a philosophy of violence and destruction. And then he quotes Albert Memmi to say that the colonizer often fails to appreciate the humanity of the colonized, and thus regards the colonized folks as unpredictable! Of course, that taunt could equally well be misapplied to the Germans and the Jews from 1942, and he could just as well taunt the Jews of 1942 who complained about what the Germans were doing to them. Presumably, one could equally well say that the Jews in Europe in 1942 were simply colonizers as well, and those who helped eradicate them were heroes. One would be wrong to say that, of course. And Veracini is wrong to say what he does about the Jews of the Levant today.
By the way, Albert Memmi is a strange person for Veracini to refer to. Memmi wrote at length about Arab anti-Israeli myths. About how the Arab Muslims traditionally persecuted the Arab Jews, and about how Israel has given the Jews the right to exist. And about how the Arab Muslims now wish to destroy Israel to punish the Jews for attempting to gain their independence.
Israel is small. It has few natural resources. Its Jews are bottled up in a small nation: Jews are not particularly welcome in the nations neighboring Israel. So it does look a little like a Bantustan. But Veracini turns this around and suggests that we ought to regard the Arabs as the ones confined to Bantustans.
We see some boasts that the French were indeed kicked out of Algeria. And maybe the Israelis can be kicked out of Israel as well, of course. But the latter would indeed be a little different from the former. Kicking all the Israelis out of Israel (and Asia) would be more like kicking all the French out of France (and Europe). Or, considering Israel's size, it might be more like kicking all the Dutch out of the Netherlands (and Europe). It would not be easy, and it would be extremely counterproductive.
Having blamed the victims in Israel, the author then tries to compare Israel with ... Australia! Well, Australia is a rather lightly-populated nation, but let's see what he comes up with. Hmm, he says that "both countries have witnessed a marked public reluctance to receive some of the conclusions the `new historians' were proposing, especially when an appraisal of `founding violence' was involved. Master narratives are rarely replaced without a fight." This is outrageous. There are plenty of histories of Australia and Israel. Most folks are more than happy to accept truth: what they dislike are lies, especially vicious lies by those who refuse to abide human rights. And a bunch of lies rarely replaces truth without a fight. Let's hope that the lies will indeed be defeated, and that the arbitrary untruths the "new historians" spew will be discarded.
We see some lies from Veracini about the extent to which Israelis had a plan to expel Arabs from their state, and we see him misuse the fact that some people died at Deir Yassin as evidence that the Israelis had some master plan to expel the Arabs. And in Australia, we see a reference to Windschuttle, who has argued that we all ought to take truth more seriously in the field of history. But Veracini simply implies that Windschuttle is doing all this simply to avoid accepting reality!
Veracini doesn't mention the fact that unless the Jews are slaughtered, there will still be millions of Jews on this planet. And that a few million people will, on the average, tend to dominate considerably more land than Israel now has (probably with more natural resources, too). There is no good reason to steal such land from the Jews: such an act would be a terrible precedent, as well as a serious crime.
I think we all ought to reject the idea of attacking and destroying small nations such as Israel. That sort of attitude, in my opinion, leads to a rejection of the right of people to exist at all. It would be far better for all of us to put up with the fact that there are other people on this planet and work together to make the world a better place for all humans.