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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

In Dealing with Iran, the U.S. Can Learn from Ronald Reagan

When Ronald Reagan arrived at the White House in 1981, the consensus was that, with regard to the Soviet Union, two responsible policy choices presented themselves: détente, or a return to the Truman-era policy of containment. Reagan, however, insisted that the USSR’s influence could not just be checked but rolled back, and without massive bloodshed. A decade later, the Soviet empire collapsed entirely. In crafting a policy toward the Islamic Republic today, David Ignatius urges the current president to draw on Reagan’s success:

A serious strategy to roll back Iran would begin with Syria. The U.S. would maintain the strong military position it has established east of the Euphrates and enhance its garrison at Tanf and other points in southern Syria. Trump’s public comments suggest, however, that he wants to pull these troops out, the sooner the better. This would all but assure continued Iranian power in Syria.

Iraq is another key pressure point. The victory of militant Iraqi nationalist Moqtada al-Sadr in [last week’s] elections should worry Tehran as much as Washington. Sadr has quietly developed good relations with Saudi Arabia, and his movement may offer the best chance of maintaining an Arab Iraq as opposed to a Persian-dominated one. But again, that’s assuming that Washington is serious about backing the Saudis in checking Iran’s regional ambitions. . . .

The Arabs, [however], want the U.S. (or Israel) to do the fighting this time. That’s a bad idea for America, for many reasons, but the biggest is that there’s no U.S. political support for a war against Iran. . . .

Rolling back an aggressive rival seems impossible, until someone dares to try it.

Read more at RealClear Politics

More about: Cold War, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, Ronald Reagan, U.S. Foreign policy