Monday, November 12, 2007

Colonialism? Miluim! Hummers.

We still don't have internet at our apartment, so it makes it difficult to blog as often as I want. But I try!

Classes are going great. Really interesting so far. Besides Arabic which I really like, I find the class on "Israel/Palestine: Politics of Land and Identity" to be the most interesting. Recently, we have read and discussed about the development of nationalism and colonialism. We will then go on to examine its impact in different countries, specifically Israel/Palestine.

From having a better understanding of Colonialism, this has led me to think: Am I an colonialist for having made aliyah? For supporting Zionism which "evicted" (this word is debatable) and exploited Arabs, from the Balfour Declaration of 1917 until today with Jewish settlements past the Green Line, in occupied territory?

Oded is now doing Miluim; his military reserve duty. I went to go visit him this weekend. He and his fellow platoon are located in Alei Zahav, a Jewish settlement, past the Green Line, and thus technically in the Occupied Territories. He and his fellow soldiers guard this settlement from the surrounding Arab villages. They drive around in Hummers and sit in pillboxes and basically do lots of guarding and (unfortunately) cigarette-smoking.

Or can I see things more simply--I am just a person who likes this country and wanted to be a part of it, and it's not quite as complicated, since I did not come in 1948? There are a lot of angles here, and this is very complicated.

I am not sure what the answer is. I am not some super left-winger that says Zionism is apartheid, but one must recognize, as I realized a few months ago: Jews came to Palestine in the late 1880s and Arabs were definitely here. It was not an empty land.

The hard part is: what is the solution now?

1 comment:

rootlesscosmo said...

Colonialism is defined as control by one power over a dependent area or people. It almost always involves exploitation of the local population and resources for the gain of the colonizer.

Zionism and the creation of the state of Israel had nothing to do with this model. Olim to Israel were not "sent" by an imperial power to exploit the resources of Eretz Yisrael. Rather, olim moved to Israel out of personal conviction. And their settlement there was characterized not by exploitation of the inhabitants (some of whom were religious Jews), but by fierce independence (e.g. the "Jewish labor" concept of the early halutzim).

In the years between WWII and 1948 (and in the years immediately following 1948), the majority of olim were effectively stateless. Either they were displaced persons from formerly-Nazi-occupied Europe, whose rights and citzenship had been stripped, or they were refugees from Arab or Muslim countries, the majority of whom were also forced to renounce their citizenship upon Israel's creation. These were not "representatives" of a foreign power who had come to impose a faraway leader's dominion.

But perhaps the greatest difference between colonialism and Jewish settlement of Eretz Yisrael is the simple fact that Jews are native to Israel. Jews have and have had an unbroken connection to the land in which they settled; the same could never be said of the British in India, the Spanish in Latin America, the Dutch in South East Asia or the Germans in Africa.