Tuesday, November 08, 2011

From Balfour to Obama: Colonial Thinking on Palestine

Roger Sheety, The Palestine Chronicle, November 7. 2011

The Palestinian people never consented to be occupied.

Nations that come into existence by dispossessing, imprisoning and slaughtering the indigenous population have two problems with history:
1. Its ugliness makes it hard to glorify.
2. Its shortness exposes the tenuousness of any claim that this is ‘our land’.
 –Paul Woodward, American and Israeli Exceptionalism (WarInContext.org)

The phrase “British Mandate of Palestine” is as commonplace in Western and Zionist scholarship on Palestine as to be inoffensive and therefore barely given a second thought. Indeed, a quick internet search of this seemingly innocuous term reveals some two million results of wildly varying quality and usefulness.

There was, however, no such thing as “British Mandate” of Palestine; it was and remains a purely European/Western colonial construct, an abstraction with real and disastrous consequences. In reality, the Palestinian people never consented to be occupied by British colonials, never agreed to have their ancestral land partitioned and given away to other Europeans, and never asked to be “civilized” by an imperial government which was completely ignorant of their language, culture and history. The same could be said of “French Mandate” Syria and Lebanon or “British Mandate” Iraq.

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