Saturday, June 02, 2018

Distinguishing “Settler Colonialism” from “Classical Colonialism”

“ … Zionism was a settler colonial movement, similar to the movements of Europeans who had colonized the two Americas, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Settler colonialism differs from classical colonialism in three respects. The first is that settler colonies rely only initially and temporarily on the empire for their survival. In fact, in many cases, as in Palestine and South Africa, the settlers do not belong to the same nation as the imperial power that initially supports them. More often than not they ceded from the empire, redefining themselves as a new nation, sometimes through a liberation struggle against the very empire that supported them (as happened during the American Revolution for instance). The second difference is that settler colonialism is motivated by a desire to take over land in a foreign country, while classical colonialism covets the natural resources in its new geographical possessions. The third difference concerns the way they treat the new destination of settlement. Unlike conventional colonial projects conducted in the service of an empire or mother country, settler colonialists were refugees of a kind seeking not just a home, but a homeland. The problem was that the new ‘homelands’ were already inhabited by other people. In response, the settler communities argued that the new land was theirs by divine or moral rights, even if, in cases other than Zionism, they did not claim to have lived there thousands of years ago.* In many cases, the accepted method for overcoming such obstacles was the genocide of the indigenous locals.” — Ilan Pappe, Ten Myths about Israel (Verso, 2017): 41-42 

* As Pappe reminds us, “Zionism “was … a Christian project of colonization before it became a Jewish one.”   

See too the pioneering study by the “independent Marxist,” Maxime Rodinson, Israel: A Colonial-Settler State? (Anchor Foundation/Pathfinder, 1973). 

Bibliographies with titles more or less relevant to our topic:


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