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The American colonization of Palestine

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Settler Colonialism in Palestine is at its core transnational, requiring institutional alliances on military and economic fronts. In the early years of the Zionist movement, when Jewish settlements in Palestine lacked the agricultural familiarity to cultivate newly-seized land, there was a heavy reliance “on the financial and administrative assistance of European institutions”. Realizing settlement efforts in Palestine would require a stable flow of aid and capital, the Zionist leadership sought to intensify their cross-border networks and establish Zionist-led institutions based in Europe. For example, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) founded in 1901 is a historic Zionist tool for colonization. It now acts as a quasi-governmental agency. The responsibilities of the JNF involved not only garnering donations for settlements in Western Europe, but purchasing land in Palestine which led to the immediate or eventual expulsion of Palestinian tenants. The JNF was critical to the eventual founding of Israel in 1948.

Even after the realization of Zionist aspirations in 1948 with the creation of the Israeli state, resulting in the dispossession of over half the indigenous Palestinian population, the Israeli leadership remained ambitious in establishing extensive international support for their nascent colony. Today, Israel has membership in various economic and diplomatic forums, receives transnational corporate investment, and has effectively allied with the hegemonic superpower that emerged after World War II, the United States. The firm US-Israel alliance more or less started after the 1967 Six-Day War and subsequent military/settler occupations of Palestinian territory. Since then, the transnational Zionist network has shifted its reliance from Europe to the United States.

US presence in Israel’s military and settler fronts, and its active financial and material support of both, is an unprecedented milestone reached by the Zionist movement. Because the US offers the Zionist network its core support, the US is directly implicated in the ongoing colonization of Palestine.

US economic support of Israeli settler activity

Consider the degree to which the charity JNF-USA, the tax-deductible US arm of the Jewish National Fund, is implicated in Israeli settler activity. In one particular case, JNF-USA has contributed to the “Judaization” of the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, where the Jewish National Fund collaborates with the right-wing settler NGO Elad to evict Palestinians and take over Palestinian property. This collaboration involves the confiscation of Palestinian property by the Jewish National Fund, and then its transfer to settlers from Elad. JNF-USA, an institution based in the US, has contributed directly to dispossessing Palestinians from their land.

JNF-USA is not alone. Notable Christian charities, usually Evangelical in nature, are showering Israeli settlements with millions of dollars. The Christian Friends of Israeli Communities (CFOIC), the Hebron Fund, and the renowned Christians United for Israel are all based in the US, and all of which fund illegal Israeli settlements and structures in the West Bank.

The nonprofit loophole means that while the US publicly opposed the use of aid for Israeli settlements, ongoing donations of US money are funneled in large quantity through US nonprofits. The US government has not opposed the tax-exempt status of these organizations.

Bankrolling of Israeli settlements through American institutions is unprecedented in the history of international support for Zionist settlement in Palestine.

US Military Support

The US arms industry equips the Israeli military with the most advanced high-tech weaponry. Additionally, Israel is the largest beneficiary of US military aid. The US funds Israel with $3 billion of military aid per year. In turn, Israel uses that aid to purchase its weapons and military equipment from US defense corporations, including Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

The US-Israel military alliance is distinguished from other military partnerships Israel has secured with other countries: aside from securing mass revenue for the US arms industry, this arrangement has allowed the US to ship arms via Israel to oppressive regimes like Apartheid South Africa, Rhodesia, Guatemala and various others for the purpose of serving “American interests.” Thus, Israel serves American imperialism as a geopolitical base and surrogate.

The US supports Israel primarily because Israel has served American interests as a proxy force in the Middle East. This is based on an extensive historical record.

In 1967, Israel defeated what was once the center of secular Arab nationalism, Nasser’s Egypt, which is considered to be a contribution to the long-term geopolitical strategy of the US. This indicates the start of US material and diplomatic support for Israel.

In September 1970, the US supported the Jordanian campaign to crush the PLO and to expel it from Jordan. The US regarded the PLO as a threat to its ally, Jordan, and therefore requested that Israel mobilize its forces on the Syrian border in order to influence Syria to withdraw its forces which were assisting the fedayeen in repelling the Jordanian army. This dual enforcement by the US and Israel eventually led Syria to withdraw its forces.

Due to Israel’s cooperation with the US in 1970, US military and economic support for Israel skyrocketed. US military aid to Israel increased from $140 million in 1968-1970 to $1.15 billion in 1971-1973, and gave Israel unprecedented access to advanced technology and weaponry.

The September 1970 Jordanian war on the PLO massacred thousands of Palestinians in what became known as “Black September”.

The US-Israel military alliance is catastrophic to the Palestinian people. Every few years (2009, 2012, 2014) Israel unleashes its war machine on Palestinians in Gaza. In 2014, the newly dubbed “operation” launched new and experimental bombs – supplied by the US. These bombs and weapons, used against one of the most densely populated regions in the world, are referred to as “battle-tested” in the marketing slogans of the arms industries.

An example of these experimental bombs is DIME (dense inert metal explosive bomb), which was developed by the US Air Force. A “developmental” cancer-inducing bomb loaded with explosive material, DIME was launched by Israel against Palestinians in Gaza since 2006.

Israel has transformed Gaza into experimental grounds for the global military industrial complex, and has advertised the effects and efficiency of various weapons to the overseeing US military and private arm suppliers. Over 2,300 Palestinians were massacred and civilian infrastructure was smashed, for the joint interests of the Israeli colonial project and the military industrial economy in the US.

Immigration of US Settlers

The US supports the Israeli occupation through nonprofits, corporations, and the military, but it does not stop with remote arrangements. The Israeli occupation is a settler project that requires human bodies as well as military force. The US is Israel’s prized source of ideological Jewish Zionists, which immigrate to Palestinian lands as illegal settlers. A recent study reveals that about 60,000 American Jews live in the West Bank, comprising 15% of the total settler population. American Jewish immigration to the West Bank is encouraged by economic incentives in the form of subsidized housing in settlements and easier loans, offered by the Israeli government and the financial assistance of American nonprofits such as Nefesh B’Nefesh, whose core mission is to inspire and facilitate Aliyah (Jewish immigration to Israel).

As Sara Yael Hirschhorn writes in “Israeli Terrorists, Born in the U.S.A.”, American Jewish immigrants describe their settlement in Palestine as a liberal duty, “in the language of American values and idealism,” as pioneers in the ever-expanding Israeli frontier. This yearning to settle in Palestine is reminiscent of the American colonialist rhetoric of “manifest destiny”, used to validate US expansionism in Native American lands and subsequently native dispossession and ethnic cleansing. Thus, the conception and practice of American settler-colonialism (as it persists within the US today) is exported with American settlers to occupied Palestine.

American settler-colonial violence has an exceptional history in Palestine. The massacre of 29 Palestinian Muslims at the Ibrahimi Mosque by American-Israeli settler, anti-Arab extremist Baruch Goldstein (called a “great saint” by a Hebron Fund director) in 1994 is the most infamous case of settler-terrorism in Palestine. Recent events of settler-terror include the firebombing of the Dawabsheh house in the West Bank village of Duma on July 31st, 2015. A Palestinian baby was burned alive and his parents killed. Three of the four Israeli youths caught by the Shin Bet for their accused involvement – are from the United States.

Over two thousand Americans have joined the Israeli army, providing manpower to the occupation of Palestine as foreign “lone soldiers,” indistinguishable from their Israeli-born compatriots. The involvement of these American-born Israeli soldiers, in the violation of the human and national rights of the Palestinian people, is commonplace. As soldiers of occupation, they oversee the demolition of Palestinian homes, the restriction of Palestinian movement, and the daily violence against Palestinian civilians. American-born Israeli soldiers were on the frontlines during Israel’s 2014 onslaught in Gaza, where they were ordered to deliberately target civilians and civilian infrastructure.

These are just a few examples of how the US engages in the transfer of colonial bodies (both settlers and soldiers) to an ever-expanding Israel.

US Colonizes Palestine

Never before has the Zionist global network secured such an extensive arsenal of people, cash, and arms for the Israeli settler-colonial state, ensuring the expansion of its colonies and fortification of its military regime. This material support originates from a dominant source, the United States, whereas initially the Zionist movement necessitated material support mainly from various European governments and institutions to back the means of establishing Israel.

The ethnic cleansing of Palestine, which began in 1948, has persisted in new forms, and with a new escalation of support from the US. It is thanks to the US veto at the UN that Israel has managed to dodge legal accountability for its violations of international law in the occupied territories.

US involvement in the Zionist settler project is often underplayed, or reduced to being merely a case of unchecked bankrolling of the Israeli military and integration into the Israeli economy.

By Israel’s dependence on US material support for its settlements and occupation army, the US has become ipso facto an entity colonizing and militarily occupying Palestine, albeit through Israeli bodies and forces. It is an impossibility to disassociate the American entanglement from the Israeli occupation; it instead must be viewed as an extension of American imperialism and settler-colonialism in Palestine.

About Osama Elmor

Osama Elmor is a Palestinian student at the University of Georgia and a member of the university’s SJP chapter. He is an intern with Friends of Sabeel – North America.

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21 Responses

  1. amigo
    November 16, 2015, 10:51 am

    The question is , what is the endgame ??. What comes after the so called greater Israel has been achieved. It will still be surrounded by “A sea of Arabs ” and it,s borders will be larger and more difficult to defend.Who is next on the list.Jordan, Syria , Lebanon ???. Which one of those states will become a new testing ground for untested weapons.Do those in the US defence industry view these states as future sources of profit.Israel no doubt will continue stirring up trouble by applying the same hit and run attacks , (they use in Palestine ) until the natives get tired of the oppression and resist at which point the usual zionist claims of victim hood become standard fare on global media and Israel claims it has to enlarge it,s territory to ensure it,s “security”. Even with the continued level of support the US gives Israel , this expansionist policy will not be viable. There will be an increase in attacks on EU cities and EU citizens will resent being fodder as a result of Israel/US expansionist policies

    Personally , I do not think these war mongers believe this can continue ad infinitum but seek to reap the benefits as long as the going is good.I believe they will dump Israel like a hot potato as soon as it becomes clear, that Israel cannot takeover the whole Middle East and survive.

  2. YoniFalic
    November 16, 2015, 12:05 pm

    While “Jew” should never be applied non-religiously, Osama Elmor’s article expresses a form of prejudice akin to what ignorant people mean when they use the abused term “antisemitism”.

    Neither does Elmor show evidence of understanding the politics or history of the white racist Eastern Europeans that invaded Palestine and that destroyed the native Palestinian culture and society, nor does he try to understand their E. European politics or history.

    In other words, even though Judaism-associated groups were able to mobilize enough capital to influence European politics on a major scale since the 16th century, Elmor does not take these groups seriously as political actors. That obliviousness results from a sort of prejudice.

    It is fairly obvious to anyone that like me reads the New York Times, the Washington Post, Haaretz, Yediot Ahronot, and Maariv that the USA (at least in terms of its national politicians) is an intimidated client of rich wealthy mobilized E. European genocide-supporters like Saban and Adelson.

    [People identify Saban as Egyptian but his family (originally Sabanski) were Yiddish-speakers in Egypt. ]

    Netanyahu is for intents and purposes is an employee of the Adelsons and of some evil people to whom I am distantly related.

    This may sound patronizing, but I have some advice for Osama Elmor. Learn something about the politics, history, and culture of the various groups that are descended from converts to Judaism. Then you will be able to “connect the dots” rationally. To be honest, I think I had something of the same mentality as Elmor and did not understand modern international politics until I began to take Judaism-associated groups seriously as major political actors over at least the last 4 centuries.

    Don’t worry that you will suddenly become sympathetic to the white racist E. European invaders that stole Palestine and hurt your people so badly. The more I have learned of Judaism-associated groups, the less sympathetic I have become and the more anger I developed at those that tried to brainwash me for the first 20 years of my life.

    And BTW I consider Nadia Abu el-Haj one of the most important and best contemporary Jewish studies scholars. I have learned a tremendous amount from her.

    • jd65
      November 16, 2015, 2:01 pm

      I also may sound patronizing Yoni. But, to me, your comment here is complete evasive gobbledygook. It seems to be some sort of criticism of the article while making no references to anything specific in the article itself. I don’t doubt that you’ve got something relevant to contribute here. But your above comment, in my opinion, doesn’t actually say anything. It’s hedging all the way…

    • JWalters
      November 16, 2015, 3:55 pm

      It seems to me your point complements this article rather than contradicting it. How about putting some meat on the bones of the story to which you allude? We’re past the point of needing hints. Lay it out there.

      My understanding is that East European Jews provided the initial, religious extremist ground troops to invade Palestine and get the religious war going. But the money for weapons and logistical support came from West European banks. The Rothschild bank was central in that role. The famous “Balfour Declaration” was a letter to British Banker Richard de Rothschild. As a poster here once noted, it could have been called the “Rothschild Declaration” since he paid for it.

      • YoniFalic
        November 18, 2015, 9:54 pm

        Actually, it was (Lionel) Walter Rothschild to whom the Balfour Declaration was first sent, and certainly, part of the motivation for early Zionism does seem to come from a desire of E. European “Jewish” intelligentsia to get their hands into the pockets of wealthy W. European Jews. Congress Zionism was a money-maker for Herzl.

    • Keith
      November 16, 2015, 5:01 pm

      YONIFALIC- “While “Jew” should never be applied non-religiously….”

      Israel’s right of return laws do. Whether you like it or not, Jewish self-identification has undergone revision since the demise of Classical Judaism.

      YONIFALIC- “…the USA (at least in terms of its national politicians) is an intimidated client of rich wealthy mobilized E. European genocide-supporters like Saban and Adelson.”

      Yoni, I hate to disappoint you, but Saban and Adelson are US citizens, not East Europeans. Therefore, they are American genocide supporters. Trying to absolve Uncle Sam from all responsibility is a misrepresentation of reality. The harsh reality is the extent to which neoliberalism and pro-Zionism have become thoroughly entrenched within the global elites who more-or-less call the shots.

      YONIFALIC- “In other words, even though Judaism-associated groups were able to mobilize enough capital to influence European politics on a major scale since the 16th century….”

      The power and influence of Jews such as the Rothchilds do not contradict Elmor’s contention that Israel is dependent upon and synergistically enmeshed with the US global empire, therefore, the US should be held jointly accountable for Israeli actions.

      • Mooser
        November 16, 2015, 5:49 pm

        “In other words, even though Judaism-associated groups…”

        “Do they have names, the “Judaism-associated groups” that “were able to mobilize enough capital to influence European politics on a major scale since the 16th century,”? Seems like if they did something that serious, the groups would be named.
        Certainly the names of these groups alone should tell us a lot Which “Judaism associated groups” are you talking about Yoni? I’m really confused by this.
        Now, the Rothchilds were a family, and an international bank, but is it all about them, or were there other, more shadowy “Judaism associated groups” I don’t know about? That’s very possible. The balebatisheh Yiden and their works are a closed book to me.

      • echinococcus
        November 18, 2015, 1:46 am

        YONIFALIC- “While “Jew” should never be applied non-religiously….”

        Israel’s right of return laws do. Whether you like it or not, Jewish self-identification has undergone revision since the demise of Classical Judaism.

        Hard to follow your logic. Not only “Israel” right of return laws, but before it Nazi Germany’s racial laws did consider “Jewish” character by descent. So everything these guys say is the law for humanity at large?

        Racial identification (“by birth” does mean racial and nothing else) of what is only a religious denomination is criminal, period.

      • Keith
        November 18, 2015, 11:03 am

        ECHINOCOCCUS- “Hard to follow your logic.”

        My logic is rather simple and straightforward. If secular Jews self-identify as Jews, and other Jews agree that they are, then they are part of that group which identifies as Jews, your insistence that this particular group cannot define the parameters of group membership notwithstanding. You may wish to re-evaluate your position that you are more capable of defining who a Jew is than the Jews themselves. As for me, I tend to go along with the general usage of such terms mindful of the fact that significant deviation from accepted usage tends to cause confusion. Also, keep in mind that social groupings are defined by group ideology which is usually irrational.

      • YoniFalic
        November 18, 2015, 12:11 pm

        If secular Irish decided to call themselves ethnic or secular Romans because their ancestors practiced Roman Catholicism, would anyone take such self-definition seriously? Would anyone consider it legitimate for them to invade Italy and start destroying or driving out all the Italians, who were not Roman like the Irish secular Romans?

        German Nazis tried to create a pan-Indo-European ethnonational identity and called it Aryan. In the name of the Aryan triumphant, the German Nazis tried to open up E. Europe and the USSR for racist Aryan genocidal colonialism. I don’t think anyone doubts that the results were evil.

        Racist genocidal E. Europeans whose ancestors belonged to Yiddish-speaking religious Jewish communities set out to transform religious Jewish identity into a pan-Judaic ethnonational identity in order to justify stealing a country and destroying or driving out the natives. Only a vile excuse for a human being could argue that the results have not been evil.

        I don’t understand why any decent person, unless he is religious like Rabbi Dovid Weiss, would identify today as a Jew. The only people today identifying as Aryans are very mentally ill.

        Decent people should have no tolerance for Nazi ideas, whether they come from German Nazis or Zionists, to wit, Jewish Nazis.

      • Keith
        November 18, 2015, 4:48 pm

        YONIFALIC- “Decent people should have no tolerance for Nazi ideas, whether they come from German Nazis or Zionists, to wit, Jewish Nazis.”

        You are surely aware that these “Nazi ideas” concerning racial supremacy and the genocide of “inferior races” have a long history in the European conquest of the Third World? Uncle Sam was Hitler’s role model for how to deal with the natives. The Nazis didn’t invent racism or mass murder, they merely industrialized the process. The Europeans as a whole have spilled oceans of innocent blood, and are hardly a role model. In fact, the Zionists always identified with Europe, not the Middle East. And what about the good old USA? From the end of World War II to the present, who has spilled more blood than Uncle Sam?

        YONIFALIC- “Would anyone consider it legitimate for them to invade Italy and start destroying or driving out all the Italians, who were not Roman like the Irish secular Romans?”

        Are you engaged in self-parody? The colonization of Palestine by (primarily) atheist Zionist Jews in no way invalidates the perceived Jewishness of American secular Jews. I have no idea why you persist in this travesty of logic. Zionism is a power-seeking, supremacist ideology, the colonization of Palestine was wrong and immoral, however, all of this is unrelated to the question of whether there is such a thing as a secular Jew. The empirical data unequivocally says there are what is known as secular Jews. My guess is that this is a consequence of the exploitation of the Holocaust by the Zionists who capitalized on the fact that the Nazis imposed their definition of “Jew” upon even those who didn’t identify as Jews. I, however, am perfectly happy to let various groups set the parameters for group membership. These parameters do nothing more than define membership in the group, and certainly don’t entitle the group to engage in illegal and immoral activities.

        Final comment. Marc Ellis, Phil and Mooser consider themselves to be Jewish. Do you have a problem with that? I don’t.

      • Mooser
        November 18, 2015, 5:39 pm

        “I don’t understand why any decent person, unless he is religious like Rabbi Dovid Weiss, would identify today as a Jew.”

        But “Yoni” my friend, it doesn’t matter much what I identify myself as, people identify me! And nobody ever asks me, they take one look or listen and go: “You’re Jewish, aren’t you?” I should argue with them? Why? I hate to argue.
        I tried espousing or evincing a pretentious Anglophile orthography to cover it up, but even Phil saw right through that!

      • YoniFalic
        November 18, 2015, 9:01 pm

        If someone identifies me as “Jewish”, I just say. Don’t worry. I got over it years ago. Nowadays I don’t shoot Palestinian girls and boys.

      • Mooser
        November 19, 2015, 12:05 am

        “If someone identifies me as “Jewish”, I just say. Don’t worry. I got over it years ago. Nowadays I don’t shoot Palestinian girls and boys.”

        One thing I am just beginning to understand (and have a lot of respect for, and I hope some empathy with) is the burden that ex-Israelis carry. My Judaism weighs lightly on me in ways I am very sure it never could, had I been brought up in Israel.

    • annie
      November 16, 2015, 8:02 pm

      While “Jew” should never be applied non-religiously, Osama Elmor’s article expresses a form of prejudice akin to what ignorant people mean when they use the abused term “antisemitism”.

      an apropo opening for an insulting degrading critique that could be better simplified like this:

      Elmor! why didn’t you write about what i wanted you to write about you irrational child.

      This may sound patronizing, but

      you got that part right Yoni.

    • rosross
      November 17, 2015, 9:44 pm

      Thanks YoniFalic for your informed and interesting post.

  3. jd65
    November 16, 2015, 12:57 pm

    Bravo Mr. Elmor! You’ve written a thoughtful, and for its size, reasonably thorough article (re: the U.S. settler/aliyah connection, I’d have briefly mentioned Meir Kahane as well…). You’ve made some connections, and have used some language, that some folks don’t like to see/acknowledge. So depending on how much attention this piece gets, you may receive some relatively ugly communications from reflexive Israel supporters, and maybe even some from folks within the solidarity movement. Don’t let it get you down. You’re on the right path. All the best to you…

  4. Liz
    November 16, 2015, 1:15 pm

    Beautifully written and astute and comprehensive as ever.

  5. MHughes976
    November 16, 2015, 3:32 pm

    ‘US involvement with the Zionist settler movement is often underplayed’ – a strange remark to find on Mondoweiss of all places! I don’t think that it’s obtuse reductionism – if that means missing the real point – to lay emphasis on the unchecked bankrolling and close economic connections that mark the relationship between Israel an the United States.
    This is not a colony of Americans in the sense that America was once – and Kenya or Rhodesia latterly – were colonies of Britain, to which any British person could go. Both the ideological justification for them and the material ‘benefit’ are different. The material structure of a colony in the JA Hobson sense was that it provided cheap raw materials for the more developed metropolis and thus provided the material resources necessary for the effort of the ruling class to avoid reform in the metro itself. Would anyone say that Israel is providing resources that enrich the United States?
    The Marxist-Leninist prediction was that colonialism in all forms would collapse for a mixture of reasons involving great power competition for the resources that one was trying to hoard and also growing unity among the different classes among the subject peoples. I don’t find these scenarios wildly convincing in Israel’s case.

  6. JWalters
    November 16, 2015, 3:50 pm

    This is an excellent analysis. It will appear nowhere in the mainstream media, which is controlled by the corporate war profiteers. Their Zionist project is too profitable.

    The New York Times cannot be believed. Neither can CBS News, or ABC News, or NBC News. Even MSNBC’s justice-seeking progressives must stay in their cages.

    Tough Mike Barnacle has a shell of tissue paper, so he won’t even tug at his leash. Gwen Ifill thinks black lives matter, but not Palestinian lives. David Brooks is an outright Israeli agent, and Mark Shields left his courage back in the Marine Corps.

    The facts are all over the internet now. Reader comments show that people increasingly see the corporate scam, that Israel is not America’s ally. It is America’s worst enemy, subverting the Constitution, destroying freedom of the press, destroying democracy. It is a tool of predatory, corporate war profiteers. It wages war with other people’s money and other people’s lives.

    Thankfully there are a few publishers, like those at Mondowess, who cannot be bought by Wall Street.

  7. rosross
    November 17, 2015, 9:48 pm

    American culture, for whatever reasons, is one founded in fear, amounting often to paranoia, and high levels of aggression. American colonists in Palestine are therefore a hybrid of fear and rage and paranoia combined with the inherent paranoid fear of much of Judaism – the persecution, victim complex which seques with the American view that ‘everyone is out to get you’ and that you need ‘to kick ass(arse) before someone kicks yours.’

    The combination of American settler with Israeli settler and fundamentalist Judaism, combined with Zionism is a particularly heady and violent brew.

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