Israel as the Last Remaining Colonial Power…

May 13, 2009

 Colonialism is described as the “extension of a nation’s sovereignty over territory beyond its borders by the establishment of either settler or exploitation colonies in which native populations are directly ruled, displaced, or exterminated”.  In the case of Israel and Palestine, Israel fits the definition of a colonial power. 

 Most people describe Israel as an occupying force in Palestine, but this term suggests a ‘temporariness’ that is not true of Israel’s intentions in Palestine. 

 After World War I and II, the world began the process of decolonization, and Israel positioned itself as one of the last colonial powers in the world.  During the process of decolonization, areas of land that used to be part of empires such as the Ottoman Empire or African nations previously under European Imperialism became independent nations.

 The League of Nations was created during this time as an institutionalized, collected effort to ‘advance the cause of emancipation’.  Under the League of Nations, a number of mandates were created from lands previously under Imperial powers.  The expressed intention of the creation of these mandates was to prepare them for self-government.  Palestine was one of these mandates.

 Unfortunately, Britain—who was the administrator of the Palestinian mandate, made conflicting promises about the future of the land.  Almost simultaneously, Britain promised the Palestinian people their independence and also agreed to make the area a “national home for the Jewish people”.  Because of this, the future of Palestine was unclear until 1948 when, after years of Zionist migration to Palestine, part of the country became Israel—a Jewish state—and Palestinians slowly began to lose more and more of their land.

 After World War II, the League of Nations was replaced by the United Nations and the ‘emancipation effort’ continued through them.  The world became decolonized—almost.  It seems that the Palestinian people and their ‘right to self-determination’ was forgotten, or ignored.

 In 1960 the UN General Assembly made resolution 1514, a “Declaration on Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples”.  In the preamble of this resolution were statements such as:

-“Recognizing that the peoples of the world ardently desire the end of colonialism in all its manifestations

-“Believing that the process of liberation is irresistible and irreversible and that, in order to avoid serious crisis, an end must be put to colonialism and all practices of segregation and discrimination associated therewith” 

-“Convinced that all people have an inalienable right to complete freedom, the exercise of their sovereignty and the integrity of their national territory

 The resolution declared that:

1.  The subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the UN and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and co-operation.

2.  All people have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development.

3.  Inadequacy of political, economic, social or educational preparedness should never serve as a pretext for delaying independence.

4.  All armed action or repressive measures of all kinds directed against dependent peoples should cease in order to enable them to exercise peacefully and freely their right to complete independence, and the integrity of their national territory shall be respected.

5.  Immediate steps shall be taken, in Trust and Non-Self-Governing Territories or all other territories which have no yet attained independence, to transfer all powers to the peoples of those territories, without any conditions or reservations, in accordance with their freely expressed will and desire, without any distinction as to race, creed, or color, in order to enable them to enjoy complete independence and freedom…

 Accepting Israel’s right to exist as a nation, carved out of Palestinian land in 1948, there is still the question of what happened and continues to happen in what was left of Palestine.  After the 1967 Israeli-Arab war, the borders between Israel and Palestine were established by International Law.  According to this, there should be two, independent nations—Israel and Palestine—separated by the green line, the internationally recognized border between the two.

 Unfortunately, Israel has ignored International laws and UN resolutions related to ending colonialism and it has not respected the internationally recognized boundaries.  Therefore, it became an occupying force in Palestine territory.  Decades later, Israel still ignores Palestine’s sovereignty and the International Community and has become more than an occupying force; it has become an ethnocentric colonial state.

 Going back to the definition of colonialism, Israel has ‘extended its sovereignty over territory beyond its borders’.  It does this in Palestine in many ways.  Israel controls all of the borders surrounding the Gaza Strip and therefore determines all movement of people and goods in and out of the territory—for over a year, Israel has enforced a complete blockade on the territory.  It does not allow sufficient money, electricity, fuel, or food into the territory just to name a few; and this has created a humanitarian crisis in the territory. 

 In the West Bank, Israel extends its sovereignty over Palestine through the hundreds of checkpoints that restrict movement inside the territory, as well as through night raids all over the West Bank in which Palestinians are almost indiscriminately beaten, arrested, or sometimes killed. 

 In addition to this, Israel has illegal settler colonies all over the West Bank—this is another aspect of a colonial power.  Although there are no settlements in the Gaza Strip anymore, when Israel ‘disengaged’ from the territory in 2005, they simply moved all of the settlers living in the Gaza Strip into the West Bank.  These settlements are illegal according to international law and UN resolutions; yet they continue to be expand and take more Palestinian land.

 Another characteristic of a colonial power is that it exploits the land and natural resources of the colony.  Israel exploits Palestinian resources in many different ways.  One example is economic exploitation of the Palestinians themselves as cheap labor in Israel.  In addition to this Israel steals everything from stones from Palestinian quarries to Palestinian water sources that are diminishing quickly.

 Why is Israel the only country that has been allowed to continue colonialist ventures?  Why are International Laws and UN resolutions not enforced on Israel, but enforced on others? 

 If International Law and organizations such as the UN are to be effective and continue to exist, they must be enforced.  If not, they become ‘suggestions’ instead of laws and resolutions. 

 For order and humanity to exist in the world, the International Community must enforce their decisions.  If not, why should any nation be bound by their authority?  Israel must be made to respect the laws and resolutions of the International Community and the shared humanitarian values we can all believe in. 

 Just like the rest of the world, Israel must give up its colonialist ventures in Palestine and Palestine must be allowed to gain its freedom and sovereignty over its lands.  Colonialism must end in all of its manifestations—and that includes you, Israel.  







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