Gaza and the Liberal Conscience- The realities of Colonialism

(Part III)

By Farish A. Noor

Consider the following scenario: A band of thieves break into your home while you are out, and help themselves to your property. When you return you find them comfortably installed in your home and enjoying themselves. Just as you are about to do the logical thing by doing whatever is necessary to kick them out, they say to you: “No, don’t attack us. We want peace. We want peace because we want to watch your DVDs on the DVD player; we want peace because we want to enjoy the food in your kitchen; we want peace because we want to sleep in your bed tonight.” Then as soon as you lose your temper, you are accused of being a terrorist, terrorising their peace!

It may sound ridiculous, but that is precisely the ridiculousness we are hearing from illegal Israeli settlers and Zionist propagandists who are telling the world that Israel wants peace and is the victim of Palestinian terrorism.

The realities of colonialism have been the same throughout history. Every imperial colonising power from the Romans to the Europeans have sought to justify, rationalise and normalise the realities of colonial expansionism by resorting to the discourse of peace. When the Europeans colonised Africa and Asia in between the 17th to 20th centuries, they did so on the grounds of ‘progress’, ‘civilisation’ and even the rule of law. Africa and Asia were to be colonised ostensibly to bring progress to the natives, to expand the scope of free trade, to establish modern governance. Yet colonies are never modern, free, democratic or progressive in the first place: they are little more than the expression of primordial greed, lust for power, hatred of Others, racism, bigotry, sexism and common prejudice.

The pathetic moral dilemma of the wishy-washy liberal is compounded by the invented dilemma of the colonialist who dreams to live in peace while residing on stolen land and stolen property. It is this double-hypocrisy that has to be addressed and exposed once and for all. The liberals among us are ever-so-sensitive to the plaintive emotional appeals of the Israeli settlers who claim that they have been victimised by the Palestinians, but at the same time conveniently fails to recognise the simple fact that no illegal settlement can ever be left in peace.

Once again we can turn to our own colonial history in Asia for pointers:

During the bad old days when the European Imperial powers were installed across Asia and Africa , there were incessant wars and rebellions when the colonised subjects rebelled to gain their freedom. It has to be remembered that the creation of modern post-colonial independent states across Asia and Africa did not come naturally or without pain and struggle. Thousands of Africans and Asians fought and died, thousands were imprisoned, exiled, tortured and made to ‘disappear’ by the colonial powers that refused to vacate their stolen colonies.

Today of course we celebrate these freedom fighters who fought and died as the martyrs and heroes of our respective countries and count them among the founding fathers and mothers who gave birth to our independent states.

Now during our own anti-colonial struggles, did we (or rather our forefathers) bother about the discomfort and fear of the colonialists whom they constantly and relentlessly opposed by all means necessary? Let us recount our own past with honesty. We did not negotiate or dialogue with imperialists: we opposed them, fought them, and when necessary attacked and killed them. Independence was not won in a game of cards or polite conversation. It came through years of guerrilla warfare, ambushes, assassinations, acts of sabotage, strikes and boycotts. That’s how we became free. And wasn’t that how the first Americans gained their independence from the colonial government of Britain too?

Now if that was the case for practically every country that has been colonised in the past, why doesn’t it apply today for the people of Palestine ?

Let us not, therefore, be taken in by the glib rhetoric and sweet appeals of the Zionists and their American backers. The modern colonial state of Israel today is a proxy for superpower interests and in its dealings with the Palestinians it has been nothing more than a violent, expansionist, colonial state bent on expanding its colonial possessions and territorial outreach. The modern colonial state of Israel has been at the forefront of working and collaborating with the most reactionary Arab pro-American regimes and helping them retard the development of democracy in their own countries.

The realities of colonialism are that any and every colonial state has been built on force, violence and coercion, and that their continued existence into the future rests on the continued use of such violence and coercion. But like the band of thieves who have stolen into your home and robbed you of your property, they cannot expect to be left in peace and they will never enjoy peace as long as they exist as a colonial power. Israel is no exception to this rule, for this was the lesson learned by every imperial power throughout human history: No colonial state has the right to safety and safe boundaries, as long as those boundaries are drawn on land that has been illegally and forcibly stolen on others. You will never have safe frontiers as long as your frontiers are drawn on the land of another.


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