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Arab “Settler-Colonialism” in the Land of Israel

Sept. 6 2017

In contemporary academic circles, “settler-colonialism” has come to be considered among the gravest of sins. The term—which refers to one country taking control of another and sending some of its inhabitants to live there—is applied with particular frequency, and venom, to Israel, although the U.S., Australia, and others also qualify as culprits. But, writes Alex Joffe, it is not Jews but Palestinians whom this term best describes:

The settler-colonialism argument against Israel posits that Zionism was an imperial tool of Britain (or, alternatively, that Zionism manipulated the British empire); that Jews represent an alien population implanted into Palestine to usurp the land and displace the people; and that Israel has subjected Palestinians to “genocide”—real, figurative, and cultural. According to this argument, Israel’s “settler colonialism” is a “structure, not an event,” and is accompanied by a “legacy of foundational violence” that extends back to the First Zionist Congress in 1897 or even before. With Zionism thus imbued with two forms of ineradicable original sin, violent opposition to Israel is legitimized and any forms of compromise, even negotiation, are “misguided and disingenuous.” . . .

The idea of Jews as “settler-colonialists” is easily disproved. A wealth of evidence demonstrates that Jews are the indigenous population of the southern Levant. . . . As for imperial support, the Zionist movement began during the Ottoman empire, which was at best [ambivalent] toward Jews and uncomfortable with the idea of Jewish sovereignty. . . .

Ironically, the same cannot be said for the Palestinian Arabs. . . . [M]odern Palestinians are, in fact, [descended] from two primary groups: converts from indigenous pre-[Islamic] Jews and Christians who submitted to Islam, and Arab tribes originating across the Middle East who migrated to the southern Levant between late antiquity and the 1940s. . . .

[None of this means] that Ottoman Palestine was “empty” when the Zionist movement began. It was indeed populated, albeit unevenly, but those populations had immigrated into the land over the previous centuries, a process that accelerated precisely because of the Zionist movement and the British Mandate. Palestinian settler-colonialism took place, ironically, under the aegis of both a Muslim and a Christian empire.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: British Mandate, Israel & Zionism, Ottoman Empire, Palestinians

Israel’s Economy Thrives While the Middle East Disintegrates

Jan. 19 2018

Now that the data have come in from 2017, it is clear that the Israeli economy had another successful year, expanding at a rate higher than that of any other advanced country. Israel’s per-capita GDP also grew, placing it above those of France and Japan. Daniel Kryger notes some of the implications regarding the Jewish state’s place in the Middle East:

The contrast between first-world Israel and the surrounding third-world Arab states is larger today than ever before. Israel’s GDP per capita is almost twenty times the GDP per capita of impoverished Egypt and five times larger than semi-developed Lebanon.

Like any human project, Israel is a never-ending work in progress and much work remains to integrate ḥaredi Jews and Israeli Arabs into Israel’s knowledge economy. Properly addressing Israel’s high costs of living requires more economic and legislative reforms and breaking up inefficient oligopolies that keep the prices artificially high. However, by any standard, the reborn Jewish state is a remarkable success story. . . .

Much has changed since OPEC launched its oil embargo against the West after the failed Arab aggression against Israel in October 1973. Before the collapse of the pro-Arab Soviet empire, China and India had no official ties with Israel and many Western and Japanese companies avoided doing business with Israel. Collapsing oil prices have dramatically eroded the power of oil-producing countries. It has become obvious that the future belongs to those who innovate, not those who happen to sit on oil. Israel has today strong commercial ties with China and a thriving partnership with India. Business delegations from Jamaica to Japan are eager to do business with Israel and benefit from Israel’s expertise. . . .

[For its part], the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement may bully Jewish and pro-Israel students on Western campuses. However, in real life, BDS stands no chance of succeeding against Israel. The reason is simple: reborn Israel has . . . become too valuable a player in the global economy.

Read more at Mida

More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Middle East, OPEC