Israeli protests seek to uphold the settler colonial status quo, Palestinian resistance is the means of liberation
During the past several years, Zionist settlers have periodically organised protests against their colonial government’s tendency towards “extremism.” While so-called progressive settlers fill the streets of the territories occupied in 1948, built on the rubbles of raided Palestinian villages and unmarked mass graves, “Israel” is declared the 4th happiest country in the world. A desperate attempt to curate the image of the Zionist state as a pleasant, democratic, queer haven where citizens manage to thrive despite being surrounded by Palestinian and Arab “terrorism”.
This will inevitably fail as soon as settlers who would quietly endorse the theft of Palestinian land and life, are displeased with state repression directed towards themselves. Like when an elected finance minister calls himself a “fascist homophobe,” undermining years of Zionist pinkwashing efforts.
It’s difficult to hide genocide, dispossession, and occupation behind a translucent veil of civil rights.
''Zionist settlers’ attempts to maintain democracy within a nation-state built on violence and destruction while not only separating themselves from that material reality, but also refusing to accept that such a state can and will have a monopoly on violence towards its own citizens as well, is a sign of a crumbling propaganda machine.''
Like the 2011 protests, settlers in “Israel” are rallying behind basic demands, like a democratic government and social justice issues. Surrounded by hundreds of Israeli flags, some even advocate for an “end to the occupation” and to stop building “illegal settlements" in the West Bank, as if the Zionist state within the borders formed in 1948 is not a settlement in and of itself.
But behind this thin veneer of ostensibly “progressive” slogans and posters is, perhaps at best, a fundamental refusal to reckon with the implications of the existence of the Zionist state on stolen Palestinian land. Or most likely, an endorsement with recommendations for cosmetic changes that preserve individual liberties for colonisers coddled by a genocidal settler-colonial ethnostate.
It’s the freedom to colonise comfortably that matters to settlers, not progressive reforms or lack thereof.
Zionism being witnessed in its clearest form – extremist – is an uncomfortable development for settlers and those bankrolling the Zionist project. In an angsty response to Biden lightly scolding Netanyahu for his proposed judicial overhaul, Ben Gvir contended that the Zionist state is “not another star on the American flag.” And yet, the same “progressive” settlers condemning Netanyahu are rallying behind banners of the intertwined flags of two settler colonies, the Zionist state and the US. Additionally, Zionist cops are using quintessentially American police violence to dispel protestors.
On 2 April, one of the most notorious state-sponsored hasbara propagandists, the ‘Special Envoy for Combatting Antisemitism,’ was fired by the Zionist government after publicly criticising Netanyahu. But even settlers who vaguely criticise “Israel” or their politicians from within, insist on obfuscating reality. In a typical response by Zionist “critics,” former Attorney General Ben Yair, says that the state practices apartheid, whilst also consciously refusing to acknowledge that apartheid is a tool secondary to Zionist settler-colonialism. This is because doing so would implicate them in more than 75 years of ethnic cleansing and land theft — an admission too damning for the illusion of the Zionist regime’s potential as the only progressive, democratic state in the region.
Zionist settlers’ attempts to maintain democracy within a nation-state built on violence and destruction while not only separating themselves from that material reality, but also refusing to accept that such a state can and will have a monopoly on violence towards its own citizens as well, is a sign of a crumbling propaganda machine.
In reality, the accelerated unravelling of contradictions within Zionist society and politics by settlers’ infuriation with a modicum of state repression as they proudly rally behind a colonial flag, is an imminent consequence for a colonial nation threatened by ongoing, steadfast Palestinian resistance to decades of genocide and dispossession.
The so-called progressive house of cards within which the colonial, genocidal face of Zionism which was loosely hidden over the past several decades, is bound to fall when Zionist settlers themselves cannot reconcile the contradictions underlying their livelihood and existence on stolen land.
Palestinians – whether in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, Gaza, the territories stolen and occupied in 1948, or in exile – are seeking and struggling for liberation from a settler-colonial enterprise and imperialist proxy. The clear display of contradictions within Zionist society certainly does not amount to liberation, but signs of a faltering nation struggling with itself are a progressive move towards the unavoidable end of the Zionist project.
Palestinian martyr, intellectual, and revolutionary Basel Al-Araj insists we engage with the Zionist enemy, certainly not in what Kanafani calls “a conversation between the sword and the neck,” but rather in an attempt to understand and properly respond to the weakness of its foundation, to signs of its deterioration, and ultimately to its forthcoming ruin from within.
As a banner at one of the rallies which read: “Save Our Startup Nation” highlighted all too well, the purpose of such callous spectacles is to preserve the status quo — a settler-colonial nation bankrolled by the imperial core, a neoliberal colony founded and upheld by genocide and land theft, but with aesthetically pleasing, digestible individual liberties.
Like they do every year during Ramadan, Israeli Occupation Forces stormed and raided Al-Aqsa during prayer just days ago. At least 400 Palestinian worshippers were reportedly detained, women were beaten and tortured and rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades were used by Zionist soldiers, and more than 500 Palestinians were injured. The self-serving rallies by Israeli settlers remain nothing but a trivial backdrop to decades of genocide and dispossession committed by the state whose colonial flag they uphold and love.
The ultimate goal is to save the ostensible liberty to invest in a security and surveillance tech startup, the liberty to be queer, to wear vegan boots and build national parks, to have five elections within four years, and most importantly, the liberty to also colonise, pillage, and murder — but quietly.
Tara Alami is a Palestinian writer and organiser from occupied Jerusalem and occupied Yafa. She is based in Tiohtià:ke (Montreal).
Follow her on Twitter: @taraxrh
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