Israel’s brutality in Gaza may be a sign their colonization is about to end, academic claims
04/22/2024 // Cassie B. // Views

History has a way of repeating itself, we’re often told, and one academic is drawing parallels between Israel’s current genocide in Gaza and what happened on numerous occasions in the past when colonial forces resorted to barbaric methods to push back uprisings by indigenous people.

Writing for the Middle East Eye, Columbia University professor of modern Arab politics Joseph Massad explains why “Israel’s savagery is a sign of its impending defeat.”

He cited numerous examples of how this type of scenario played out in the past, from the 100,000 Kenyans who were killed by the British during their war of national liberation that put an end to the white supremacist colonial rule there in the 1960s to the killing of 1.5 million people in Angola and Mozambique as they fought Portuguese colonists. In these cases, the brutality against the indigenous people preceded the defeat of the colonists.

However, what happened in Algeria with French colonists may just be the closest parallel to what we’re seeing in Gaza, according to Massad. By the time the Algerians eventually gained their independence in 1962, more than a million Algerians had been killed by the French since they first colonized Algeria back in 1830. He also likened the propaganda campaign in which the French army represented itself as saving the Algerian people from communism and Arab nationalism to Israeli and American attempts to position the current efforts in Gaza as “saving” Palestinians from terrorism.

Israel has already killed more than 33,000 Palestinians since October, according to figures from the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, and there are thousands more who are unaccounted for and possibly buried under the rubble in the war-ravaged enclave.

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The Israelis, Massad argues, have shown that they are all too eager to kill as many Palestinians as it takes to “preserve their Jewish supremacist settler-colony.” He added: “As with the erstwhile white settler-colonies, the white supremacist world of Europe and its surviving white settler-colonies are just as supportive of Israel's genocide as they had been of its predecessors in Africa since the Second World War…”

Will history repeat itself?

The debate over whether Israel is a settler colonial state has come up frequently as they continue to kill thousands of Palestinians in Gaza in what can only be described as genocide. Settler colonialism goes one step further than traditional colonialism, in which one group of people dominates another and uses their resources to benefit themselves; it also entails the colonizers seeking to completely destroy and replace the indigenous people and their culture with their own and become the land’s rightful inhabitants. Israel is being increasingly perceived as trying to eliminate the native population in Gaza via genocide and displacement so they can annex Gaza.

Many feel that Israel’s founding fits this criteria, with the mass migration of Jews to the land displacing the Arab populations that existed there and spurring the conflict that has been going on to various degrees ever since. The nakba, Arabic for “catastrophe,” saw the displacement of around 750,000 Palestinians from their homes in what is now Israel as the Jewish state was being established. However, some maintain this situation is different because Judaism has strong historical ties to the land in question and the Jewish people believe they are returning there rather than taking over.

As Israel continues to occupy Palestinian territories, with hundreds of thousands of Israelis living in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the IDF controlling the entry and exit of people and goods from Gaza, there is no question that Palestinians are occupied people. And if history does indeed repeat itself, this last big attempt by Israel to stop the indigenous people there from revolting could well be a sign that they are about to lose their power in the area.

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