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.

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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… Read more »

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… Read more »

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… Read more »

Beautifully written and astute and comprehensive as ever.

‘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… Read more »