Irwin J. Mansdorf
Institute for Contemporary Affairs
#576 March-April '10
Israel's creation, far from being a foreign colonial transplant, can actually be seen as the vanguard of and impetus for decolonialization of the entire Middle East, including a significant part of the Arab world, following the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
What is not popularly recognized is how the Arab world benefited from the Balfour Declaration and how it served the Arab world in their nationalist goals and helped advance their own independence from the colonial powers of England and France.
Despite the essentially parallel processes of independence from colonial and protectorate influence over the first half of the twentieth century, only one of the national movements at the time and only one of the resulting states, namely Israel, is accused of being "colonial," with the term "settler-colonialist" applied to the Zionist enterprise.
This term, however, can assume validity only if it is assumed that the "setters" have no indigenous roots and rights in the area. As such, this is yet another example of psychological manipulation for political purposes. The notion of "settler" dismisses any historical or biblical connection of Jews to the area. Hence, the importance of denial of Jewish rights, history, and claims to the area.
Lest there be any confusion about what a "settler" is, those who use the terminology "settler-colonialist" against Israel clearly mean the entire Zionist enterprise, including the original territory of the State of Israel in 1948. The "colonial Israel" charge is thus rooted in an ideological denial of any Jewish connection to the ancient Land of Israel.
Psychological factors often play a role in the development of political views. In the Israel-Arab conflict, one of the ways in which psychological factors operate is in the formation of "mantras" that do not necessarily reflect either the historical record or applicable international law.1 Examples include the use of descriptions of occupation as "illegal"2 and the determination that there is a "right" of resistance3 or a "right" of return.4 When used over and over again, these descriptions, despite their questionable legitimacy, can alter perceptions. Once perceptions change, attitudes and behavior change as well, leading to partial and ultimately biased views of historical and political reality.
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