Palestine today is subjected to settler colonialism which entails police brutality, forced eviction, and unequal treatment amounting to war crimes. People need to acknowledge this problem of an imperial, apartheid Israel being institutionalized and accepted. The world cannot choose to ignore the Palestinian struggle for the world was once like Palestine, struggling against colonial rule.
The expansion of empires has been both by slow societal integration and forceful aggression. Colonialism has been the most successful in such hostile domination. The mid-20th century, however, marked a period when many countries (in Asia and Africa) secured freedom from several hundred years of imperialistic colonial rule.
The present seems to have gone past that experience. Now, most nations often behave – including both former colonizing and colonized states – as if colonialism is a thing of ancient times.
The reality is that we live in a world where the colonization of native lands has been institutionalized and the colonized land is now a well-established nation-state. These settler-colonial countries include Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Colonialism remains, hidden and in its apparent forms, and ongoing. From Kashmir to Palestine, Western Sahara to Crimea and South Ossetia, and numerous other disputed territories of the globe remain under direct military occupation, struggling for liberation.
Colonialism is an organized structure through which one group of people subordinates exploits another, then justifies this subordination. Settler colonialism is a worse form of colonialism that seeks to replace the indigenous population of the colonized territory with a new group of settlers. It is based on illegitimate control, organized and supported by imperial authorities.
Despite the actuality that all ‘modern’ nation-states have seized lands in certain respects, settler-colonialism differs critically as this state does not come into being and cannot continue to exist without claiming sovereignty over land that is forcefully taken from its indigenous inhabitants. The foundations of Israel are rooted in a similar colonial project that has restructured and shielded its face but continues to subject Palestinians to military occupation, land dispossession, and unequal rights.
These circumstances arose after the first European Jews landed on the shores of Palestine in the 19th century and established early settlements. In 1948, Zionist forces systematically took over the land, expelling people from their homes and compelling many to live as refugees in isolated enclaves or ghettos. More than 500 villages were razed to the ground in a process that came to be known to the world as the establishment of Israel — and to Palestinians as the “Nakba”, the Arabic word for “catastrophe”. The Nakba continues to this day.
For every action implemented for the safety of the Jewish citizens of Israel, restrictions are imposed on the rights to movement and progress of Palestinians. The Israeli “authority” makes plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over everything Palestinian has been a long guided government policy. In pursuit of this goal, authorities regularly confine, forcibly separate, and subjugate Palestinians by virtue of their identity. Deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution. All of this is done knowing very well that there will be no consequences, knowing that the US will still support and financially aid the Israeli Apartheid as the world watches in inaction.
To have an idea of apartheid in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), consider the following: A person from Palestine, with generations of ancestors living there before him, cannot visit Jerusalem, while a Jew born anywhere in the world can go, occupy and settle in a Palestinian’s backyard (as happened to the al-Kurd family in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood). Israel also prohibits over five million refugees from the right of return. Authorities also regularly deny entry into the West Bank to non-registered Palestinians who had lived in the West Bank but left temporarily. There’s more: A Jew can nonchalantly pass through a roadblock in Historical Palestine, while a Palestinian can be shot dead trying to go through customarily.
Recently, horrifying videos of assault on women by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), sometimes also called Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), were also seen. Had this been done to white women by Muslims, Blacks, or Arabs, the Western media would have a field day out. Mainstream media outlets present these war crimes as a “conflict” or “clash”. The hypocrisy of the former colonists is apparent.
As Israel continues violating the rights of Palestinians, the international community has repeatedly turned a blind eye. Even the world leaders that speak, speak hollow words. Initiatives in favor of a political solution to the decades-long “conflict” are often blocked by the US in the United Nations Security Council. It should be noted that the Palestinian struggle against Israeli Colonialism is as much a ‘conflict’ as was the Indian fight for independence from the British. Due to this reality, the use of the term Israel here is done lesser as a state and more like an Indian using the term British Rule.
“The tale of Palestine from the beginning until today is a simple story of colonialism and dispossession, yet the world treats it as a multifaceted and complex story — hard to understand and even harder to solve”, affirms Ilan Pappe in the 2015 book ‘On Palestine’, co-written with American scholar Noam Chomsky.
The latest surge of support for the uprising in Palestine came as a trend and unfortunately faded away. Although it did have some impact, the world needs to continue pressuring Israel. The world can’t afford to forget about Palestine for it reflects humanity’s own past, especially of those who were and are colonized. Denying the Palestinian’s present struggle will be denying that most of the globe was once colonized. The settler-colonial project has not yet succeeded in Palestine and the indigenous Palestinians have long fought for their rights to exist on the land. The Palestinian struggle is a fight for decolonization.
It is the collective responsibility of every citizen who was once colonized, and of the modern world as a whole, to stop this imperialist and genocidal colony to be institutionalized. It is the moral duty of every free being to speak, if not act, for those whose freedom is threatened.
Farzan Ghani is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Reda Aamna