What’s happening today and for the last 100 years in Palestine is consistent with the history of the West for the last 500 years, a reader writes.
To the Editor:
If you’re confused or just don’t know much about Palestine/Israel take a look at the creation of Israel in 1948 and the Ideology of Zionism.
From the beginning Zionism was and remains a Western colonial project. As a religious nationalist project on Palestinian land Zionism followed in the Western tradition of settler colonialism. The inability of Americans to understand their own history as a settler colonial society limits the ability to understand the basics of what has been happening in Palestine for the last hundred years.
The same people that are remaining neutral today are following in the same tradition as all the people that remained neutral for the hundreds of years in which the Europeans were colonizing the “Americas,” Australia, New Zealand and parts of Asia and Africa by exterminating native populations. What’s happening today and for the last 100 years in Palestine is consistent with the history of the West for the last 500 years.
America had an ideology that summed up settler colonialism very well, “Manifest Destiny,” the idea that it was divine providence that white Europeans would bring civilization to the “savages.” In the Declaration of Independence Liberal darling Thomas Jefferson refers to the indigenous nations as “merciless Indian savages.”
What Israel is doing today is a much smaller scale of what the British and Americans did to the indigenous on this continent for 300+ years. What both Zionism and Manifest Destiny have to offer people is the bribe of land and wealth. People have a long history of trading their integrity for a little land and wealth.
This history of white supremacy has been difficult to defeat because it is built on a collaboration between the working class and the ruling class. White supremacy is the most extreme form of cross class solidarity. The Palestinians are waging an anti colonial struggle, that is what so many don’t understand.
Here in California the genocide of the natives has been buried and isn’t taught in schools. The first eight governors supported and funded Indian hunting campaigns from the years 1849-1873. The “Founding Father” of California, the 1st governor, Peter Hardeman Burnett said, “A war of extermination will continue to be waged between the races, until the Indian race becomes extinct.” The next seven governors, including Leland Stanford, the namesake of the famed University, would support extermination policies, Indian hunting campaigns and vigilante violence so the white settlers could “manifest destiny.”
The last thing you need to do is remain neutral. Remaining neutral is a tacit approval of the status quo. It is only through raising our voices that we can effect change. Don’t be afraid of pushback, that means you are doing your job. Be afraid of silent complicity, that means the flame of your soul may be dampened.
Forest Knolls, CA
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