Talk & discussion introduced by
(SPSC National Committee)
Israel is often usefully compared with the colonial-settler project in South Africa but comparison with the Scottish/British settler colonisation of the North of Ireland can be instructive. The Irish experience of Captain Charles Boycott, for example, of being isolated and ostracised in 19th Century Ireland has given pro-Palestine campaigners and many others a powerful weapon to fight oppression.
Britain's leaders during WWI saw clearly that the settler-colonising project by Zionist Jews in Palestine was in British imperial interest. Sir Ronald Storrs, the first British military governor of Jerusalem, explained that the Zionist “enterprise was one that blessed him that gave as well as him that took, by forming for England ‘a little loyal Jewish Ulster’ in a sea of potentially hostile Arabism”. The Jewish colony in Palestine would counter what Storrs termed the “present aborigines” and protect the Suez Canal and communications with India, the jewel of the world’s superpower at that time, the British Empire.
The British template for the colonisation of Palestine after 1918 was the settlement of Ulster centuries earlier in Britain’s oldest colony. The colonial power granted privileges to colonists who naturally incurred the hatred of the local people by their seizure of resources and racist arrogance towards the natives; as with settler-colonialism in Ulster so the same dynamic was set in motion with the settler-colonial project in Palestine. From the 1920s onwards, the British mobilised Jewish settlers in Palestine to crush mass Arab resistance just as they periodically mobilised Irish loyalists in violent opposition to Irish nationalism.
Both settlement projects:
- successfully set up sectarian states for over half a century- "a Protestant State for a Protestant people"/a "Jewish State"
- violently dispossessed the native people of the best land
- saw the Old Testament as authority for a Chosen People to violate the rights of the native people
- relied on the incoming settlers being protected and privileged by Britain
- experienced settler revolts against the imperial protectors
- forced mass emigration on the native people
- set up state-enforced systems of discrimination and privilege alongside democratic forms, e.g. universal suffrage
- used state-armed militias to maintain sectarian privileges
Ultimately, the settler-colonial project in the North of Ireland failed, while the Zionist colonisation of Palestine is still proceeding.
The talks will compare these two settlement projects, the better to learn how to deliver solidarity to the Palestinian people.
Edinburgh: Thursday 14th January 7.00pm Tollcross Community Centre
Glasgow: Monday 18th January 7.30pm Quaker Meeting House