Under cover of darkness, warships of the Zionist Colonial Navy (ZCN) silently slipped out of Minsk, Pinsk and Kishinev.
The year: 1882.
The destination: the mineral-rich and fertile lands of south Syria, a.k.a. Palestine. (The moon would have to wait.)
The plan: obtain territory; import colonists to exploit that territory.
Latecomers to colonialism, the Zionists were colonizing already-colonized land: the Middle East was part of the Turkish Ottoman empire.
South Syria was an unimportant backwater, and the invaders quickly established a beachhead. Young and energetic Jewish colonists soon arrived, and more were to follow after Turkey sided with Germany in the Great War. Germany lost, the Ottoman Empire was toast, and Palestine became a British mandate.
In 1917, a year before the end of World War I, the Mossad had inveigled Britain’s Lord Balfour to designate Palestine as the “national home for the Jewish people.” Home it became for waves of Ashkenazi Jewish colonists from Europe, and Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews from Egypt and other Middle East and North African countries.
The Zionists obtained more land — east Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights — after the 1967 Six Day War.
With the Zionist Master Plan now nearing completion, Ethiopian and Russian Jews emigrated to Israel. The young nation now had more pianists and violinists than it knew what to do with.
The original Zionist Colonial Navy warships went on display in Israel’s Naval Museum. Mission accomplished.
1492 and All That
“Colonialistic.” “Settler colonialism.” According to many Palestinians and their leftist supporters in the West, Israel is guilty of both.
The charges are serious. “Exterminate all the brutes!” says ivory trader Mr. Kurtz in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Conrad (Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski), a Ukraine-born Polish writer who lived in England, based his anti-colonial novella on Belgium’s cruel exploitation of the Congo.
In truth, the Zionists had no navy, and even if they had one, launching from landlocked east European cities such as Minsk would have been iffy.
The early Jewish immigrants to Palestine were fleeing pogroms, not seeking colonial spoils. Awaiting them were neither minerals nor oil, but malarious mosquitoes. The farmland was fabulous, but only after the Jews broke their backs taming the desert.
Golda Meir was no Queen Isabella. Nor was she Catherine the Great.
Israel was clearly not colonialistic in the Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Brazilians-will-speak-Portuguese sense of the term.
That’s better. This phrase is more plausible, with its suggestion of a neighborly, a kinder gentler form of imperialism. It also retains the emotive reference to colonialism.
The best part of “settler colonialism” is that only Jews can be guilty of it.
Here’s some real history.
After the 1948 War of Independence, Palestine was occupied: Gaza by Egypt, and the West Bank and east Jerusalem by Jordan.
Neither Egypt nor Jordan gave these territories to the Palestinians, who, in turn, did not request them. Nor did the Palestinians object when Jordan later annexed Jerusalem.
No one — left, right, or center — cried colonialism.
Jordan expelled the Jews from Jerusalem’s Old City, demolishing dozens of synagogues and desecrating cemeteries in the process.
What happened to the homes of these displaced Jews?
Arabs moved into some of them.
Settlers? Settler colonialism? Ethnic cleansing? Nothing to see here, folks.
The battle cry of today’s anti-Israel left is for a Palestinian state from the river to the sea, encompassing all of historic Palestine (minus the huge chunk that Britain gave to King Abdullah).
It would not include a Jewish state. Israel would disappear, and very possibly its Jews as well.
Israel’s critics argue that mandatory Palestine is inherently Arab territory. Jews, in this view, are settlers not just in the West Bank, but also in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and other parts of Israel proper.
However, Jewish Jerusalem is not a modern or colonial phenomenon. Large numbers of Jews have always lived there, and for long enough to qualify as indigenous.
A relative newcomer, Tel Aviv was mostly beach sand until Jews (some of whom may have had parents or grandparents from Minsk, Pinsk, Kishinev and other cities and shtetls of czarist Russia) developed it beginning in 1909 — well before the Mandate, before Hitler came to power, and long before the Arab residents of south Syria identified as Palestinians.
There’s a term for any Palestinians who would forcibly displace them: “illegal settlers.”
If Egypt’s President Nasser had not instigated the Six Day War, Gaza and the West Bank would never have been occupied. There would have been no Jewish settlers at all.
If the Arabs had accepted the UN Partition Plan in 1947, there would have been no Six Day War, and Palestinians would soon be celebrating their nation’s 75th birthday.
“Colonialism” and “settler colonialism” make for good propaganda, but bad history. A colonialistic Israel is a mirage, as real as my Zionist Colonial Navy.