Donate

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

The Movement to Return Jewish Worship to the Temple Mount Has Gone Mainstream

Sept. 25 2017

During the eruption of violence against Israelis in Jerusalem this summer, and the subsequent struggle over metal detectors, the Islamic authorities briefly boycotted the Temple Mount. As a result, Jewish visitors, normally prohibited from praying there, immediately began to do so. Meir Soloveichik puts the episode in context and describes its meaning:

The Temple Mount is fast becoming a pilgrimage site for religious Jews. In the past, most abstained from visiting out of concern that they might enter a sacred area in a state of ritual impurity, but many now believe that, with a knowledge of the layout, history, and religious laws pertaining to the location, it is permissible to visit certain parts of the Temple Mount plaza. They thus visit the site under religious guidance—immersing first in a ritual bath, or mikveh—and tread only in specific areas. What was once a trickle of pilgrims has become a stream, and this year they numbered in the many thousands. . . .

[Indeed, a] sea change has taken place in the past fifteen years: . . . the segment of Jews visiting the Temple Mount is becoming more and more mainstream, supported by rabbis noted for their liberalism in social or religious affairs. . . .

Visiting Jews were, for a brief and brilliant moment [this summer], able to utter several words of prayer without interference. The Israeli media published photos of a diverse group of Jews standing on the Temple Mount reciting the kaddish, so close to where their ancestors, on Yom Kippur, had once stood listening to the high priest pronounce the Name of God. Soon after this kaddish, the [status quo ante] returned; Jews again were no longer free to pray at the site toward which all Jewish prayer has been directed for thousands of years. But images of that one unimpeded kaddish remain; to study them is to look back on the miraculous and heartbreaking past half-century in Jerusalem, to celebrate what has been achieved, and to mourn what might have been.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Judaism, Palestinian terror, Religion & Holidays, Temple Mount