White settler states and their war against the 'other'

White settler states and their war against the 'other'
Comment: On the front lines of some of today's worst human rights abuses are the three white settler colonial states; the United States, Australia and Israel, writes CJ Werleman.
6 min read
19 Jun, 2018
Israel has killed more than 130 Palestinians in the past two months [Getty]
The world is being divided into two camps: Those who welcome globalisation, embracing a cosmopolitan and multicultural view of the world, and those who welcome a return to nativism, embracing closed borders and an ethno-nationalist view of the international system.

In turn, these competing worldviews have turned political discourse on its head. For the past four decades or more, economics was the terrain on which political battle lines were drawn.

For liberals, government was a public asset used to curtail the excesses of unbridled capitalism and to provide a safety net for the disadvantaged, vulnerable and those who fell on tough times, while conservatives identified government as the enemy or "problem," a bureaucratic behemoth that stood in the way of entrepreneurs and the most fortunate.

Today, however, these battles are also fought over culture, with white conservatives perceiving 'white culture' and white identity to be under attack from liberals who champion multiculturalism, globalisation, free trade and immigration.

On the front lines of this culture war are the three white settler colonial states - the United States, Australia and Israel - three nation states that were not only built by foreign immigrants, but also on racism and genocide.

Significantly, each is being led by a government that subscribes to an anti-liberal, ethno-nationalist ideology, enacting and enforcing policies that are designed to placate the impulses of those who fear and loathe the foreign other, and in the past week alone, we have seen the human consequences of their respective but similarly aligned political headwinds.

The heartless cruelty and xenophobia that lies at the core of the Trump administration has been on display this week, with images of young children being separated from their parents and held in cages. According to the Department of Homeland Security, more than 2,000 children were separated from their parents during a six-week period alone.

Each of these states is being led by a government that subscribes to an anti-liberal, ethno-nationalist ideology

Reporters who have visited these detention centers have described the conditions as "disturbing," while others have observed how derelict and dilapidated warehouses have been converted into quasi-prisons.

On the campaign trail, candidate Donald Trump promised to crack down and make life as tough as possible for those who seek asylum and refuge in the United States by crossing the US-Mexico border without a visa.

He deemed these desperate and vulnerable refugees, many whom are escaping the narco-violence that has followed from the US war on drugs, as "rapists" and "murderers," and accordingly President Trump is stripping them of their basic humanity and caging them like wild animals.

Read more: Palestinians aren't using human shields, Israel is

"Inside an old warehouse in South Texas, hundreds of children wait away from their parents in a series of cages created by metal fencing," observed the Associated Press.

"One cage had 20 children inside. Scattered about are bottles of water, packets of chips and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets. One teenager told an advocate who visited that she was helping care for a young child she didn't know because the child's aunt was somewhere else in the facility. She said she had to show her how to change the girl's diaper."

President Trump apparently considers the harsh treatment of refugees and immigrants as politically rewarding, and as bargaining chip to pressure Democrats into funding his delusional border wall.

Meanwhile the United States' primary client state in the Middle East - Israel - is dishing out what Amnesty International this week described as "cruel" and "unlawful" punishment to African asylum seekers, deporting some 1,700 Sudanese and Eritrean refugees to Uganda, "without papers, without protection and without sustainable resources".

"Israel's dysfunctional asylum system has left Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers in limbo for years. These people, who came to Israel seeking safety, have been met with prolonged detention and violations of their basic human rights to asylum, health and safety," said Charmain Mohamed, head of refugee and migrant rights at Amnesty.

"They are now facing the equally bleak prospects of being deported to an unknown country or being sent back to the persecution from which they fled."

Australia, the US' primary client state in the South Pacific, continues to defy international law and human rights conventions by indefinitely detaining asylum seekers in what can only be described as refugee gulags.

Last month, a Rohingya Muslim refugee, who had spent almost five years imprisoned in an Australian funded refugee detention centre in Papua New Guinea, while awaiting medical care, committed suicide by jumping from a moving bus.

When the UN General Assembly voted to condemn Israel for the killings, the US and Australia were the lone western democratic states to vote against it

"The news of a sick Rohingya man committing suicide on Manus [Island] is sickening. Rohingya refugees clearly cannot return home, given the current situation in Myanmar," said Elaine Peterson, director at Human Rights Watch, Australia.

"It's a travesty that Australia has forced them to spend the last five years playing a waiting game on a remote Pacific island while living in an insecure environment with cutbacks to mental health and other services."

Moreover, this man was fleeing what the United Nations described as "textbook ethnic cleansing," a description the Australian government refuses to ascribe the reality in Myanmar. All this is made worse by the Australian government's plans to spend $400,000 training the Myanmar military, while it carries out genocide against Rohingya Muslims.

Israel has also been accused of arming the Myanmar military while it slaughters and forcibly deports 1.3 million Rohingya Muslims. Investigations by human rights groups have found that Israel has sold more than 100 tanks, light weapons, as well as patrol boats, which have been an instrumental tool used by Myanmar in attacking Rohingya fishermen.

Against this backdrop, Israel continues to shoot and kill unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, with now more than 130 killed in the past two months.

When the United Nations
voted to launch an independent enquiry into their deaths, only two countries voted against the proposal: the United States and Australia, and when the United Nations General Assembly later voted to condemn Israel for the killings, again the United States and Australia were the lone western democratic states to vote against it.

In other words, not only do Israel, United States, and Australia share a history of ethnic cleansing and racial inequality, but each is also guilty of waging a war against the world's most vulnerable people, and/or demonstrating callous indifference towards the world's "huddled masses, yearning to breathe free."

CJ Werleman is the author of 'Crucifying America', 'God Hates You, Hate Him Back' and 'Koran Curious', and is the host of Foreign Object.

Follow him on Twitter: @cjwerleman

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.