Israel and the Myth of Colonialism

by: Paul in San Francisco

Wed Sep 21, 2011 at 18:36:28 PM EDT



Cross-posted at www.MyLeftWing.com

One of the most frequent statements made by people on the far left about Israel is that it is some kind of colonial enterprise.  Here is a typical statement that recently appeared at a Democratic blog that has large readership:

"how is [sic] israel's actions in the palestinian mandate since 1947 not colonial? it's a textbook settler colony."

The comment was actually posted by a friend of mine, a very intelligent person who simply doesn't know a thing about Israel.  If he did have any knowledge of Israel's history and demographics, he would realize that the notion of Israel being a colonial enterprise of the West is nothing more than a myth.

Paul in San Francisco :: Israel and the Myth of Colonialism
It's helpful to understand just how colonial enterprises have worked over the past two or three hundred years.  A fairly succinct statement can be found at wikipedia:

The colonial period normally refers to a period of history from the late 15th to the 20th century when European nation states established colonies on other continents. During this time, the justifications for colonialism included various factors such as the profits to be made, the expansion of the power of the metropole and various religious and political beliefs.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C...

Note the key elements - a colonizer, placing its people in the colonized territory to rule over it and extract profits and resources.  This was certainly the pattern when the British created their colonies in America, the Caribbean, India, and throughout Asia.  It was also a pattern for the French in North Africa and the Caribbean, and for Belgium in Africa.  In each case, the colonizing power didn't just send its people over to the colonized territory. It put them there to rule on its behalf.  The key phrase is "on its behalf."

For example, British rule over India began with the East India Company establishing a commercial foothold in India in the early 18th century, which eventually grew into governmental administration and a military presence that was private, but had the blessing and overall protection of the British government.  The presence of the East India Company led to the eventual assertion of direct British governmental control (the Raj) over India in the mid-19th century.  

In the Congo, the Belgians ruled directly almost from the start.  Under King Leopold II, Belgium plundered the Congo for its resources, in particular copper and rubber, generating enormous profits for Belgium.  The Congo became an official colony of Belgium in 1908, with an explicit Belgian governing administration.

Israel clearly doesn't fit that pattern.  When I hear someone say that Israel is a colonial enterprise of the West, the first question that comes to mind is, who is the colonizing power?  It clearly wasn't Britain.  Sure, Lord Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary, declared in 1917 that:

"His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object...."

However, the British did very little to encourage the actual creation of that Jewish homeland, and from 1935 on, the British actively tried to prevent Jewish refugees from the Holocaust from reaching Palestine.  For example, Jewish immigration from 1919 to 1941 hit a peak of 66,472 in 1935, but the British informed the Jewish Agency that only a third of its requested quota for 1936 would be allowed to enter Palestine. Consequently, as the Nazi's genocide of the Jews began to pick up speed in Germany, the British only allowed 29,595 Jews into Palestine in 1936.  And in 1937, the number dropped even more drastically, to 10,629.  

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrar...

After World War II, the British were no more generous with respect to immigration of Jewish refugees:

On June 6, 1946, President Truman urged the British government to relieve the suffering of the Jews confined to displaced persons camps in Europe by immediately accepting 100,000 Jewish immigrants. Britain's Foreign Minister, Ernest Bevin, replied sarcastically that the United States wanted displaced Jews to immigrate to Palestine "because they did not want too many of them in New York."

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrar...

Most of the Jews that reached Palestine between 1945 and 1948 came illegally, and when caught by the British, were put in detention camps on Cyprus.   The British detained approximately 50,000 Jewish refugees who tried to enter Palestine illegally.

It's also important to note that the overwhelming majority of these Jewish refugees trying to enter Palestine were not British.  Rather, they were of every European nationality - French, German, Polish, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Russian, etc.  

Consequently, it would be absurd to claim that Israel was a colonial outpost of Britain, the only nation that had any governmental authority over the region during the years leading up to Israel's creation.  It would be just as absurd, if not more, to claim that Israel was a colonial outpost of any other European nation.  Germany had just finished trying to slaughter the Jews of Europe. And none of the European nations had any warm, fuzzy feelings for Jews.  They just wanted the Jews gone from Europe, and had no interest in sponsoring Israel as a colonial outpost.  Probably the largest source of European immigrants to Israel was the Soviet Union and its satellites in Eastern Europe.  It would be ludicrous, however, to claim that Israel was a colonial outpost of the Soviet Union.  The reality was that the Soviet Union was busy persecuting its Jews, and simultaneously backing the very Arab states that were so hostile to Israel.

It's also useful to take a look at the Israeli population and how it changed after the founding of Israel.  Between 1948 and 1995, only 71,480 Americans immigrated to Israel.  Only 26,000 came from the UK.  By contrast, between 800,000 and 1 million Jews came from Arab and non-Arab Muslim countries between 1948 and the early 1970s.  These were the Jews who were ethnically cleansed by the Arab and Muslim nations following the creation of Israel - stripped of their lands and property, deprived of jobs, and expelled either overtly or implicitly.  They weren't the Ashkenazim of Europe, they were Mizrahim and Sephardim.  They didn't speak English, or French, or German, or Russian, or even Yiddish or Hebrew.  They spoke Arabic or Farsi.  By 2002, almost half of Israel's population had its origin in Arab or non-Arab Muslim countries. But you never see the Israel-critics on the left mentioning this Arab/Muslim ethnic-cleansing of the Jews, nor does anyone assert that Israel, by its population, might be a colonial outpost of the Arab/Muslim nations.  

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrar...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J...

Consequently, Israel doesn't even come close to fitting the traditional notion of colonialism - a nation sending its citizens into another region to establish a base of power.  If Israel is a colonial outpost, it is one without a colonizer.

Perhaps when someone on the loony left makes the assertion that Israel is a western colonial enterprise, they mean that it represents "white Europeans" going into a region that is neither white nor European, and asserting power over the indigenous brown people.  Quite often I've seen comments on Democratic and liberal blogs about how Israelis are "white" and the Palestinians are "brown."  Of course, anyone who makes such a comment is woefully uninformed, and has probably never seen an Israeli or a Palestinian, for that matter. As I noted about, nearly half the population of Israel are refugees (or the descendants of refugees) from Arab and non-Arab Muslim countries. That would make them kind of brown, too.

What people really mean when they refer to Israel as being a colonial outpost is that Israel is a colonial outpost of the United States.  In holding that belief, however, they show an alarming ignorance of the history of US-Israeli relations.  Between 1948 and 1968, Israel and the United States simply weren't very close, diplomatically or otherwise.  President Truman provided diplomatic support for the founding of Israel, but refused to supply the new state with weaponry to defend itself in the War of Independence.  Indeed, it was 14 years before the US provided any serious military aid to Israel, when the Kennedy Administration sold Israel the HAWK anti-aircraft missile system.  

The primary supplier of weaponry to Israel between 1948 and 1968 was France.  Israel destroyed the Egyptian air force in the Six Day War using French fighter jets and bombers, not US aircraft. The US didn't start providing serious military assistance to Israel until 1968.  And of course, when the Egypt closed the Suez Canal to Israeli shipping in violation of international law in 1956, Israel attacked with the backing of England and France.  The United States joined with the Soviet Union in forcing Israel to withdraw from the Sinai.  Hardly what you would expect from the colonial master.  And as I have pointed out above, between 1948 and 1995, only 71,000 Americans immigrated to Israel.  

Since 1968, the relationship between Israel and the United States has certainly been a close one in every sense of the word, but can one really say (with a straight face and a shred of honesty) that Israel is a colony of the United States?  If it is a colony, you'd think it would do our bidding, at least some of the time.  In truth, however, Israel does what the US wants when it suits Israel to do so, which isn't that frequently.  If the US really called all the shots the way the colonialism adherents believe, would the West Bank settlements still exist?  

So for all those who spout idiotic slogans about Israel and colonialism, don't quit your day jobs.  Put away your textbook from Marxist Theory and Imperialism 101, and learn about the history of the region.

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Alms for the poor (2.00 / 11)
Daddy's gotta pay for his new pair of boots.

thank you (2.00 / 8)
sending it to my daughter, as they have been discussing Israel in Judaics, and she was just asking me about it.  Very timely, thanks.  

Joy is in the ears that hear - Stephen R. Donaldson  

Well Argued... (2.00 / 8)
But is the accusation of "colonialism" really the issue?  Seems Israel under Likud has managed to pretty much isolate itself from regional partners in recent years.  I'm not sure I understand what Bibi's long-term strategy might be; preserving the status quo seems increasingly problematic.

Getting rid of the silly myths and falsehoods (2.00 / 7)
like the myth that Israel is a colonial outpost, for example, will enable us to actually grapple with issues like Likud's policies.  At least, that's how I see it.

[ Parent ]
Suppose... (2.00 / 5)
On the other hand you don't want to be hunting heffalumps.

[ Parent ]
That taste so good barbecued, though n/t (2.00 / 7)


[ Parent ]
Heh (2.00 / 7)
And feed many.  My only point is that we sometimes get all worked up arguing with those who have a polarised viewpoint and neglect to mobilise the support of those who represent a more reasonable attitude.

[ Parent ]
Especially on this particular topic (2.00 / 8)
at the Great Orange Satan, it's just people shouting past each other.  Those that have tried to be reasonable and build bridges are treated quite shabbily.

[ Parent ]
Well... (2.00 / 7)
That's an engaging pastime but not sure it actually achieves anything beyond the personal.  Seems to me that the exchange of ideas and information is a necessarily respectful process.

[ Parent ]
In Fact... (2.00 / 8)
It strikes me that some of these hotly contested issues are merely proxies for the emotional positions of the participants who may not actually give a farthing for establishing some kind of reasonable baseline for discussion.  This would explain why it goes on and on; the argument itself becomes the product.

[ Parent ]
Or it's a defensive mechanism because the poster has no (2.00 / 8)
clue what he/she is talking about as so often happens when talking about the Middle East.

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
dunno if this helps, but I'd guess that commenter (2.00 / 4)
meant that Israel's settlements in the West Bank are a form of colonization.  Of course, that view would not be consistent with the concept of extracting natural resources or making a profit.  Just seems to me to be what the individual was trying to get at.  

Except... (2.00 / 6)
Where labour is considered a resource.  While I wouldn't call it colonialism it seems that there is a natural economic symbiosis between Palistine and Israel, if it could only be allowed the political liberty to flourish.  

[ Parent ]
My vision for post-peace (2.00 / 8)
is some kind of economic confederation between Israel and the Palestinian state, where the countries would be so closely-tied economically that renewed war would be unthinkable. Kind of like how the Common Market was used post-WWII, to tie Germany and France together.

[ Parent ]
Totally Agree (2.00 / 8)
With that vision.  The problem is how to get there from here; can't say there are lots of grounds for optimism just at the moment.

[ Parent ]
No, actually he was talking about Israel going back (2.00 / 6)
to 1947 -- Israel from the beginning.  With respect to the settlements in the West Bank, there are really two forces at work.  One is represented by the hard-core settlers.  These tend to be very religious, and they look at the West Bank as part of Greater Israel. They believe there's a religious mandate that they settle down in all of what had been "Israel" two thousand years ago.

The other force is cheap housing.  Israel is a small country, and every government since 1968 has used the West Bank and Gaza as a source of cheap housing. They've provided all kinds of subsidies for people to buy homes in the territories.  That's one of the underlying points of anger in these demonstrations that have been taking place in Israel over the past couple of months -- housing in Tel Aviv is freakishly expensive, and beyond the means of many people, but the government has been subsidizing housing in the West Bank for years.  


[ Parent ]
asdf (2.00 / 5)
I guess you have a better read on that individual.  I rarely participate in those threads, because I am ill-equipped from an information point of view.  I've been in several meat-space conversations in which someone argued Israelis as colonizer/conquistador.  The religious reasoning (as you've laid out) and the real estate problem (as you've also laid out) make much more sense that an economic conqueror argument.


[ Parent ]
One caveat to your argument (2.00 / 11)
is that the early Zionist movement, pre-state, often referred to the enterprise as a 'colony.'  One of the most important umbrella organization for supporting early settlements, particularly the moshavim was called "The Jewish Colonization Association" (ICA).  The Zionist Congress of 1898 established a body called "The Jewish Colonial Trust."  Theodore Herzl's support of the Uganda proposal was based on a kind of reverse colonialism where instead of the homeland establishing the colony, that the Zionists should first establish the colony and employ it to continue to pursue the establishment of what would become Israel.  Herzl composed an admiring letter to Cecil Rhodes (him  of 'Rhodesia').  I think it's fair to read the pre-history of the state in the context of both European national liberation movements and colonial projects of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  The Zionist movement developed in the context of these ideological and institutional formations.

The critique of colonialism was developed in the second half of the 20th century, and thus awareness of its devastating problems was not current in the ethos of the early Zionist movement.  I concur with most to all of the argument here and think that it's crucial to distinguish between Rhodesia/Zimbabwe and modern Israel.  But if we aren't careful to parse the terminology and its history, we are caught in the face of quotations that would undermine us.

Furthermore, there are indeed some parallels to colonialist enterprises that concern many on the Jewish and Israeli left.  Colonies are marked by both support of the state that launches it and exploitation of indigenous populations.  Israel, which purports to be a sovereign and independent Jewish nation built in part upon the concept of avodah ivrit (Hebrew labor) indeed depends upon a patron state (US) even if that state didn't launch the project and depends upon the exploitation of Palestinians and more recently foreign workers from Africa and other places.  There are therefore troubling structural similarities to colonial projects that merit critique.  The modern State of Israel falls far short of what was envisioned as a democratic Jewish state where Jews are fully enfranchised and self reliant.

But I want to underscore once more that this diary exposes very importantly how some of Israel's critics and opponents co-opt the discourse of colonialism and apply it to Israel in ways that approach demagoguery.  

The future is unwritten


I think you've touched on something (2.00 / 6)
to the extent Zionism represents colonialism, it is in a grassroots sense. It was a widespread immigration and nation-building movement that had no state sponsorship. Rather, it was a reaction against the states that had for so many years persecuted their Jewish citizenry.

Certainly today Israel depends on American aid, both military and otherwise.  Making peace with its Arab neighbors and ending the occupation will go a long ways towards reducing the need for that aid.  The occupation is cumbersome and expensive, and peace will make it easier to reduce the military budget.  

The one statement of yours that I have to disagree with is that the modern state "falls far short of what was envisioned as a democratic Jewish state where Jews are fully enfranchised and self reliant."  I don't think that's true at all.  Jews are fully enfranchised, both in terms of political rights and everyday life.  They are lawyers and doctors, hookers and taxicab drivers, waiters and mobsters, soldiers and artists.  The state has done a remarkable job of creating an economic powerhouse in only 60 years.  It is a world leader in high tech, medical research, agricultural science, and a variety of other fields.  If American aid is reduced in the context of resolving the conflict with the Palestinians and other Arab states, Israel would be able to make the transition pretty easily.  And think about it, is Israel any more reliant on US aid than, say, the US is on borrowing from the Chinese to support our deficit spending?


[ Parent ]
You are right about enfranchisement for Jews (2.00 / 3)
but there are significant problems with the goal of a Jewish state in which all are fully enfranchised.  My point here really has to do with how far Israel is from being self-reliant, both with regard to Jewish participation in all sectors of its economy and its reliance on the US.  And while I agree that ending the occupation will make reducing both possible (and this is one of the most important arguments against the occupation, many have pointed out that the occupation works against the accomplishment of a Zionist vision in this sense) I think the structure in which non-Jews perform the vast majority of the menial and underpaid labor is likely to continue.  My reason for pessimism here is that as the employment of Palestinians from the territories became more difficult, the void was filled not by Jews but by foreign workers imported from Africa.

Ehud Banai has a song entitled "Stir the Concrete Ahmed" from his first album (1986) that details the life of a Palestinian construction worker from Gaza.  Here's a passable live version (though I've heard better renditions:



The future is unwritten


[ Parent ]
Well, that happens everywhere (2.00 / 2)
European countries, the US. When I was growing up in Cincinnati, we had 4 kids with Hispanic surnames in my high school class of 450 people, and two of those were exchange students.  Now, you find many more Mexican immigrants in Cincinnati, doing the menial labor in restaurants, hotels, etc.

[ Parent ]
I agree that Israel should not be singled out (2.00 / 5)
But there is a particular irony given the dreams of early Zionists.

Additionally, the project of Israel has always been guided by two potentially conflicting goals:

to become an am k'khol ha'amim (a nation like all the nations

to become an or l'goyim (a light to the nations)

On the one hand, we (I'm a dual citizen) have tried to become a 'normal' nation where we perform all the aspects of national life and to contribute to what Buber called "the common stock of humanity."

If Israel is to disprove the charge of being a chauvanistic ethnocracy, then we can't have Jewish contractors supervising non-Jewish workers at every construction site.  We can't have Jewish owners and waiters at every cafe with non-Jewish dishwashers.  It's no more JUST that in much of America the menial labor is performed primarily by Latinos.  But that doesn't excuse how Israel functions and it doesn't close the distance between the vision of the state and its reality.

What is particularly ironic is that France, the republic of "liberty, equality, and brotherhood" is explicitly trying to suppress its muslim citizens, or at least there peaceful expressions of their identities.  There's a new initiative to ban them from performing their regular devotions outside.  But just because we can see other nations operating as ethnocracies doesn't make it acceptable in Israel.  And many Israeli citizens are committed to this critique.  But I think you are right that the occupation stands in the way of progress on these fronts.  I just don't think that ending the occupation will solve the problems.  It's a necessary condition, but not a sufficient one.  

The future is unwritten


[ Parent ]
Oh, and wish I could give you a double-fierce (2.00 / 4)
for that song.  Its giving me that Tom Morello vibe.

[ Parent ]
he's amazing (2.00 / 3)
Ehud Banai also works frequently with Palestinian musicians.  He's a remarkable individual.  Here's his protest about the treatment of Ethiopian immigrants.  It's called "Black Work."  



The future is unwritten


[ Parent ]
putting false... (2.00 / 4)
memes forward is one the most problematic issues in the i/p issue.

calling israel the colonizer is no more accurate than calling palestinians the conquested.

i'll have to read the diary again paul because i am a bit tight on time - but thanks for posting this.

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson


Palestinians are indeed occupied n/t (2.00 / 4)


The future is unwritten

[ Parent ]
yes they are. (2.00 / 3)
dont think I said otherwise.

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

[ Parent ]
To be honest, this issue has never been on my radar screen... (2.00 / 8)
with respect to the I/P peace process.  While some may use it as an emotional proxy for other deeper feelings, I don't think it's very germane to the discussion of how to move the  peace negotiations forward.

It is, however, an interesting exploration into how even knowledgeable folks can be woefully misinformed about the dynamics in the ME.


If you come away from this diary with two things (2.00 / 7)
I hope it will be a deeper understanding of the complex demographics of Israel, and a better understanding of how the relationship with the US started.  Indeed, that second point would be a worthwhile diary in itself, showing how US-Israeli relationships have changed over time.

[ Parent ]
I think your argument accomplishes those goals very well n/t (2.00 / 5)


The future is unwritten

[ Parent ]
There are so few ancient nations. (2.00 / 6)
Are there any ancient borders, at all? Has any nation been exactly what it is today for hundreds of years?

Didn't Joshua colonize the land Israel sits on in 3,000 BCE? France, China, Germany, Russia - are all their borders fixed since Time Immemorial?

I don't know all the details of Israel's history, nor exactly how Palestine came into being, or Syria, or Egypt. Egypt of 3,500 BCE was not even the same culture or ethnic group as Egypt of Cleopatra's day or Egypt today.

At some point we all have to accept that countries are where they are, there is no end to rewinding history. I cannot - on behalf of Creek ancestors I know little about - seriously stake claim to Georgia and Florida. If I were to go that path, why not try to figure out the pre-Creek (who were an expansive empire themselves) status and argue on behalf of whichever group's land holdings that I can trace my genes to? The Creek's claim a tenuous (as far as I can tell at this point) connection to the Mound Builders but could well be entirely descended from whomever wiped out that civilization.

My overriding sentiment on the whole I/P conflict is: "so the f*ck what?!?!?"  You - Israelis - stop building Settlements like a bunch of jerks. You - Palestinians (et al) - stop firing rockets and assuming that Israel will go away and you will move back to your grandparent's neighborhood you have never seen.

The world is what it is. Can't we just deal with the present and future?

I know, I know - woefully naive.

Nonetheless.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."


I think you should claim Georgia (2.00 / 7)
and rename it Mooseland.   Leave FL out of it.  I read a terrifying piece in the NYer about how it's overrun with escaped exotic pets like pythons and monitor lizards.

We'll all move there...and do something about how they apply the death penalty...(sigh).  I watched the Yanks clinch the AL East, flipping back and forth to the coverage the SCOTUS deliberation and then execution...while prepping Act III of King Lear for the morning.  It's the Act where he goes mad on the heath in the storm.  Here's the Fool's prophecy:

When priests are more in word than matter;
When brewers mar their malt with water;
When nobles are their tailors' tutors;
No heretics burn'd, but wenches' suitors;
When every case in law is right;
No squire in debt, nor no poor knight;
When slanders do not live in tongues;
Nor cutpurses come not to throngs;
When usurers tell their gold i' the field;
And bawds and whores do churches build;
Then shall the realm of Albion
Come to great confusion:
Then comes the time, who lives to see't,
That going shall be used with feet.

The future is unwritten


[ Parent ]
The pythons are probably not far from here, (2.00 / 4)
Everglades just to the east of where I sit (well, lie in bed typing).

I took the lightning video I lifted pics from for the Open Thread just minutes before posting them. I love and miss that about living in FLA. We have not had rain or lightning in Scotts Valley for months, and there is nothing like watching it over the Gulf. The vantage here on the 18th floor is stunning.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."


[ Parent ]
I was born in a U.S. colony. (2.00 / 8)
Puerto Rico.

(it's called a commonwealth though, sounds nicer)



Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen


When did you "immigrate?" (2.00 / 7)
Every time someone says "Puerto Rican immigrants" I want to scream!!!

The future is unwritten

[ Parent ]
When the U.S. troops sailed/marched to P.R. they were... (2.00 / 6)
... greeted and cheered on by most boricuas (at least nobody put up a fight). Most peeps on the island were tired of the abusive Spanish rule and such. So while I understand why some non colonies might feel offended by the term it's really nothing more than a label (like blasky would say). I can't really complain when I live on another island colonized by the Spanish (Hispaniola) and I see the difference in education/health/other. Is being free worth suffering? I really don't know. Many latinos ask me why some peeps on the island (about 5%) want independence. I don't judge those who do (and in a perfect world I would agree) but we only get one shot at this life thing. Quality of life goes above some abstract idea about a piece of land. Boricuas are some the happiest people around (says studies and stuff) so it can't be all bad. So on the I/P stuff (which I only know and barely understand from discussions here) I find it hard to follow sometimes. It's just a piece of land (don't want to offend anybody). There is enough space on this Earth for everybody to live in peace. Both sides should agree on something and I hope future generations don't have to struggle with what many today struggle with. Play nice, get it over with. It's dragged on long enough.

Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen

[ Parent ]
There's more than one kind of colonialism. (2.00 / 2)
England in particular has a model it has used since 1105 AD or thereabouts, and this essay and the comments reminded me of it and how it worked, and how it may also apply to some degree here. I believe but am willing to hear evidence to the contrary, that this was the first time the English tried the model, less than two hundred years after there became a single "England" in the first place.  

In that year, there was in England in specific  a colony of Flemings working cloth and such in the area we now call the Midlands. They did not get on well with their English neighbors, to put it mildly, but were refugees from massive flooding in the Low Countries which had forced many to move and their skills with textiles and such were initially thought valuable, and this is where they had gone, and they had no other place to go.

'No other place to go' is the key to this. The English of the time set a goodly number of them up in a few colonies in what is now called Pembrokeshire in southwestern Wales, then a Kingdom called Dyved,  which at that time was independent and they and  a series of smaller kingdoms, north and south, and fighting the English fiercely to stay that way.

The object of the enterprise was to set colonies in that area of Wales which would be so at risk from the Welsh that they would have to be loyal to the English in order to survive and be supplied. People to be settled there were, coincidentally,those whom the English didn't want in England anymore either, no matter how valuable their skills.

And that's what happened, with the Flemish communities surviving, for several centuries as a distinct group, looking to the English for protection and doing what they had to do to keep that protection in a non English area until the area itself came under direct English rule. It was tries again in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries in Northern Ireland, with Protestants.  

These Flemish colonies persevered and were the predecessors of the castle rings subsequently built which enabled the English to control and then conquer Southern Wales a century or so later. Apparently the English never forgot how well this worked, because it happened as part of  their colonial thinking again and again.

I found this mess when I did my Honors Degree in History many years ago, but it still has some application here as an alternative interpretation of what a colony actually is and why it is where it is. An alternative look at 'colonialism' and its mechanisms.

In both the case of Israel and its predecessor communities in Europe, and of the Flemings of the Midlands and Pembrokeshire, the 'colonists' were people the English and others really did not want among them, in the worst way. Putting these people in the Holy Land/Pembrokeshire had the double benefit of getting them out of the English or other European areas, and making them dependent for their protection and safety upon those who allowed them there, because all involved knew from the first that they were being put into an area where the locals wanted no part of them either and were prepared to fight about it. 1920 was not that many years since the Turks had been at the gates of Vienna, and then there was this little thing called the Crusades....

The English, in both cases, were not going to do any such thing with 'their own people' but could used what they considered  available expendibles to do it, and did. And the economic benefit of doing it redounded in no small degree to the English and other European nations in general as to Israel, because they got the benefits of having a 'colony' looking to them for support and defense and culture, without the cost of their own people to get it, in the long run, and got rid of whom they did not want among them at the same time. To this day Israel is over against its neighbors, essentially a European culture struggling for recognition as an equal of sorts in that world rather than in the one which surrounds it.

This was also the practice followed  when prisoners and those ejected by the Enclosures and Clearances and thereafter the Potato Famine, for whom no other alternative was offered either, in various English speaking colonies we all know well. And in the cultural memory of these places there is no general recall of the often-by-then-British any recall of them being sensitive or responsible  or non-racist or even consistent with alleged "English" values,  in the way they manipulated these colonies.

One of the differences, of course, was that at a certain point the later English, unlike Edward I and his, decided to go out of the colonies and empire business, and dumped a mass of such situations in the same few years, from 1947 to 1960 or thereabouts, including India and Pakistan, much of Africa,  and the Holy Land, where the population was not as nearly English as, say, Australia or New Zealand or English Canada, because  they couldn't afford it and didn't want to bother with it anymore.

And are struggling to this day with the consequences of their colonial habits, now moved to the homeland of English people in no small part because part of the later ideology of this colonialism, to make the whole World British, came home to roost in a very literal way.

But for a time, this sort of colonialism solved the problems then in the upper class British mind, no matter the consequences that flowed from such choices when that mind changed. Other European colonialized areas had different intellectual histories about whatthey thought they were doing.

Yes, I am aware that the world of Jews is much broader than Europe alone, but even the Israelis are struggling with that, but that is another comment somewhere for another time.


Hi Christy! (0.00 / 0)
Nice name, I thoroughly approve.

Welcome to the Moose. You will find it to be a relatively genteel and sometimes gentle place, but we do get our undergarments uncomfortably arranged from time to time, too.

I think there are refreshments over by the potted palm (or the palmed pot), Peter was going to act out a scene from one of his plays to illustrate a point on metaphysics and if I am not mistaken Spacey said something about juggling and flaming donuts (don't ask, best just to observe).

If you need anything just ask in any open thread. Moose like to help. :~)

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."


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