FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Human Rights of the Settler

by

Just a few weeks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that he cares about the rights and lives of Palestinians in Gaza more than the Palestinian leadership does, he posted a new video message on his Facebook wall, arguing that any future dismantlement of Jewish settlements in the West Bank would amount to “ethnic cleansing.” He went on to intimate that insofar as the U.S. and other western countries support the uprooting of Israeli settlements as part of an agreement with the Palestinians, they were, in effect, supporting the cleansing of Jews.

“Would you accept ethnic cleansing in your state? A territory without Jews, without Hispanics, without Blacks,” he rhetorically asked, thus drawing a direct link between the settlers in the colonized Palestinian territories and racially discriminated citizens in the United States.

Netanyahu’s description of any potential evacuation of the West Bank colonies reflects the ethics of settler colonialism in which any attempt to dislocate the settlers is now equated with injustice. Unwilling to acknowledge that Palestinians were ethnically cleansed in 1948 and 1967, and that they continue to live under the constant threat of displacement as a direct result of his own government’s policies, Netanyahu depicts Israeli and thus Jewish settlers’ disengagement from the occupied West Bank, which constitutes a mere 22 percent of Mandatory Palestine, as an egregious violation of the rights of Jewish settlers.  The irony is, of course, that these settlers initially colonized this land after it was captured in the 1967 war at the behest of the state.

Moreover, by invoking the phrase ethnic cleansing of Jews, Netanyahu is clearly mobilizing a concept that is deeply ingrained in Jewish collective memory and comprises a red line not only for the Israeli State but also for the international community. In fact, he is actually repeating a refrain first invoked by Israel’s well-known Foreign Minister Abba Eban, who in 1969 defined the return to the pre-1967 borders as “something of a memory of Auschwitz.”

Through the metaphor of “the memory of Auschwitz,” Abba Eban suggested that a withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967 would correspond to another genocide of the Jewish people, this time in the temporal and spatial setting of Palestine.  Tragically, the invocation of the horrific violations perpetrated during the Holocaust has long served to legitimize ongoing colonization and is presented as a preventive measure against the re-materialization of Auschwitz.

Thus, Netanyahu’s mobilization of settler ethnic cleansing echoes Eban’s “Auschwitz lines,” while introducing the novel notion of settler human rights. Through his Facebook video he transforms the colonizing settler into the victim of human rights abuses and the subjected Palestinians into the perpetrators who are ostensibly supported—unjustly, according to this distorted logic—by the international community. This, to be sure, is a very strange form of human rights: it is the human rights of a dominant ethnic group whose dominance has been instituted precisely through the expulsion and subjugation of Palestinians. Furthermore, decolonization becomes a crime against humanity, and the global discourse of human rights is turned into a tool for advancing domination.

In sharp contrast to the racial discrimination against African Americans, Hispanics, and other people of color in the United States, Israeli settlers are an inordinately privileged group. They are not a minority in the Jewish state, and despite Netanyahu’s attempts to revise history, it is crucial to remember that state-sanctioned ethnic cleansing and ongoing human rights violations is what enabled the Jewish settlers to occupy the lands on which they live in the first place.

First published in Al Jazeera.

 

Weekend Edition
February 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Richard D. Wolff
Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story
Paul Street
Where’s the Beef Stroganoff? Eight Sacrilegious Reflections on Russiagate
Jeffrey St. Clair
They Came, They Saw, They Tweeted
Andrew Levine
Their Meddlers and Ours
Charles Pierson
Nuclear Nonproliferation, American Style
Joseph Essertier
Why Japan’s Ultranationalists Hate the Olympic Truce
W. T. Whitney
US and Allies Look to Military Intervention in Venezuela
John Laforge
Maybe All Threats of Mass Destruction are “Mentally Deranged”
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: an American Reckoning
David Rosen
For Some Reason, Being White Still Matters
Robert Fantina
Nikki Haley: the U.S. Embarrassment at the United Nations
Joyce Nelson
Why Mueller’s Indictments Are Hugely Important
Joshua Frank
Pearl Jam, Will You Help Stop Sen. Tester From Destroying Montana’s Public Lands?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Attack on Historical Perspective
Conn Hallinan
Immigration and the Italian Elections
George Ochenski
The Great Danger of Anthropocentricity
Pete Dolack
China Can’t Save Capitalism from Environmental Destruction
Joseph Natoli
Broken Lives
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Did Russia Vote For Trump?
Geoff Dutton
One Regime to Rule Them All
Torkil Lauesen – Gabriel Kuhn
Radical Theory and Academia: a Thorny Relationship
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Work of Persuasion
Thomas Klikauer
Umberto Eco and Germany’s New Fascism
George Burchett
La Folie Des Grandeurs
Howard Lisnoff
Minister of War
Eileen Appelbaum
Why Trump’s Plan Won’t Solve the Problems of America’s Crumbling Infrastructure
Ramzy Baroud
More Than a Fight over Couscous: Why the Palestinian Narrative Must Be Embraced
Jill Richardson
Mass Shootings Shouldn’t Be the Only Time We Talk About Mental Illness
Jessicah Pierre
Racism is Killing African American Mothers
Steve Horn
Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests
David Griscom
When ‘Fake News’ is Good For Business
Barton Kunstler
Brainwashed Nation
Griffin Bird
I’m an Eagle Scout and I Don’t Want Pipelines in My Wilderness
Edward Curtin
The Coming Wars to End All Wars
Missy Comley Beattie
Message To New Activists
Jonah Raskin
Literary Hubbub in Sonoma: Novel about Mrs. Jack London Roils the Faithful
Binoy Kampmark
Frontiersman of the Internet: John Perry Barlow
Chelli Stanley
The Mirrors of Palestine
James McEnteer
How Brexit Won World War Two
Ralph Nader
Absorbing the Irresistible Consumer Reports Magazine
Cesar Chelala
A Word I Shouldn’t Use
Louis Proyect
Marx at the Movies
Osha Neumann
A White Guy Watches “The Black Panther”
Stephen Cooper
Rebel Talk with Nattali Rize: the Interview
David Yearsley
Market Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail