Wednesday, July 01, 2020

I Intend to Decolonize


Decolonization is the process of deconstructing colonial ideologies of the superiority and privilege of Western thought and approaches....decolonization involves dismantling structures that perpetuate the status quo and addressing unbalanced power dynamics...decolonization involves valuing and revitalizing Indigenous knowledge and approaches and weeding out settler biases or assumptions that have impacted Indigenous ways of being.

Decolonization is defined as restoring the Indigenous world view; the culture and  traditional ways; and replaces Western interpretations of history with Indigenous perspectives of history.

In practice, that could take this form:

Campaigners have asked Uganda’s parliament to order the removal of monuments to British colonialists and to rename streets commemorating imperial military forces.

Or this one:

in the United States, the Museum of Man, in San Diego, recently hired a Navajo educator as its “director of decolonization” and announced that it would no longer display human remains without tribal consent. 

At the  American Museum of Natural History, demonstrators have trooped through the museum on an Anti–Columbus Day Tour. They chant, drum, dance, and unfurl banners: rename the day. respect the ancestors. decolonize! reclaim! imagine!.

Of course there is a connection to the issue of "Palestine":

Whether seeking a two-state solution, a confederation, or a single “Jewish” state over the entire Land of Israel, a “conflict resolution” approach does not address the wider need for decolonization. A settler colonial perspective restores the original and underlying problem of settlement that began in the late 19th century — one which asserts its claim to the entire country of Palestine. This is not to say that the occupied Palestinian territories are not occupied under international law, but that occupation is a sub-issue that must be addressed in the context of a wider process of decolonization, including the right of Palestinian refugees to return.

The authors take their analysis one step further, writing there:

Settlers come with the intent of not just living in another territory but taking it over — to thoroughly replace the existing society and to supersede it in a normalized settler state. Through myths of entitlement invented to legitimize their seizure of the land, the settlers strive to become the natives — that is, they assert their indigeneity — while rendering the real indigenous people invisible. 

But hold out hope for the eventual:

integration of the settler population into a society of equals.

Even though he is knwlingly devious, admitting to his real goals:

the majority of Israeli Jews will never be active partners in a struggle for the decolonization of Palestine. As settler colonials they have no motivation to decolonize, which they view as a form of national suicide. The best we can aim for strategically is to “soften” them through an inclusive plan of decolonization

Jeff Halper expands here (pardon the pun). 

Now, here is Israel's Permanent Representative of Israel to the United NationsYeuda Blum at the United Nations December 21, 1978:

(a) In 1917 there was no such thing as a separate "Palestinian people". The Arab nationalist movement had barely begun, and particularist national movements in the Arab provinces of the former Ottoman Empire were virtually unknown. The dominant view among local Arabs at the end of the First World War was that the Arabs living in Palestine were part of the Syrian people and the greater Arab nation. Indeed, in 1919 and 1920, Arabs in Palestine objected to the Palestine Mandate, inter alia, on the grounds that they should not be separated from their brethren outside the area of the Mandate.

On 2 July 1919, the General Syrian Congress adopted 10 resolutions, of which the eighth stated:

"We ask that there should be no separation of the Southern part of Syria, known as Palestine, nor of the littoral western zone which includes Lebanon, from the Syrian cr ltry. We desire that the unity of the country should be guaranteed against partition under whatever circumstances." (King Crane Commission Report in Foreign Relations of the United States: Paris Peace Conferenc 1919, vol. 12, p. 781)On 31 May 1956, Ahmed Shukairy, then a Saudi Arabia delegate to the United Nations and later head of the so-called PLO, told the Security Council:"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria." (S/PV.724, para. 44)In March of 1974, President Assad of Syria stated:"Palestine is a basic part of Southern Syria." (The New York Times, 9 March 1974)Last year, Zuhair Muhsin, head of the PLO's so-called Military Operations Department, told the Dutch daily newspaper Trouw:"There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese ... We are one people. Only for political reasons do we carefully underline our Palestinian identity. For it is of national interest for the Arabs to encourage the existence of the Palestinians against Zionism. Yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity is there only for tactical reasons. The establishment of a Palestinian state is a new expedient to continue the fight against Zionism and for Arab unity." (James Dorsey, quoting Zuhair Muhsin in Trouw, 31 March 1977)Likewise, as recently as 17 November 1978, Yassir Arafat said at a rally held at Beirut by the Lebanese Ba'ath Party that "al-Assad said that Palestine is the southern part of Syria. I told him that Palestine is southern Syria and Syria is northern Palestine". (Voice of Palestine, 18 November 1978)(b) The reason why the Arabs in Palestine thought in these terms is that a political entity called Palestine had never existed. The term "Palestine" (Falastin in Arabic) was used throughout the centuries for a geographical area of uncertain limits, and not for a "defined territory". Under the Ottomans the area went through a bewildering series of administrative redivisions, and for the most part was governed from Damascus.

(c) It is also false to claim that Arabs in Palestine in 1917 were "a people rooted for centuries" in that country. A good part of the Arab population was made up of recently settled Bebouin from east of the River Jordan. Egyptians who came to Palestine in the nineteenth century in the wake of Ibrahim Pasha were also a significant element. Others could trace their not very distant roots to Morocco, and still others were recent arrivals from the Balkans, the Hauran and even Czarist Russia (Circassians) who came in the latter half of the nineteenth century. It is interesting to note in this connexion that Circassian is still spoken in some "Arab'' villages in the north of Israel.

Moreover, far from being "deeply rooted", sizable numbers of Arabs were leaving Palestine by the end of the nineteenth century, in common with others from the region, and the problem of emigration was discussed by the "First Arab Congress", held in Paris in 1913.

If anything, it is the Arabs who have colonized "Palestine". It is they you should be the objects of a decolonization process.

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