Thursday, July 10, 2008

Colonial versus Settler States

In Coming out Jewish, Jon Stratton repeatedly refers to Israel as a "settler state." I think it would be good if all those who insist that Israel is a "colonial state" were to adopt that term. To say it is a colonial state is to argue that the Jewish refugees from the Holocaust formed a colonial power. It demolishes any recognition of Jewish suffering and plays into antisemitic views of Jewish power. On the other hand, to say it is a settler state merely, to my mind, points out that most Jews settled in Israel from elsewhere. I think that's accurate without all the baggage.

[Update: David Schraub disagrees in the comments. He's probably right.]


David Schraub said... it doesn't. "Settler" is meant to evoke the image of the Jewish towns in the West Bank and Gaza, commonly referred to as "settlements" inhabited by "settlers". Tel Aviv or any other town in Israel proper is never described that way -- the "settler/ment" term is pretty definitively used only in the occupied territories. Using it to refer to Israel writ large is an attempt to tie the legitimacy of the nation as a whole to the legitimacy of the Israeli rule over the occupied territories.

And believe me, anti-Zionists take "settler state" with precisely that meaning.

Matt said...

Hmm. I don't recall coming across that, though you're right. Ah well...