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Israel’s American dream | Israel-Palestine conflict

It may seem odd that US conservatism – which has taken the baton from the Reich Ministry of Propaganda and systematically spreads thinly veiled anti-Semitic messages about the need to defend the West from nefarious “globalists” and the conspiracy to “replace” white people – is showing up for Israeli ethno-nationalism to shout down pro-Palestinian rallies on college campuses. And that US liberalism is in lockstep with US conservatism; with its chief, President Joe Biden, declaring that the incineration of patients in hospitals is not the war crime that will sway US resolve in funding and arming Israel’s pogrom in Gaza.

To anyone not familiar with the centrality of anti-Semitism in European nationalisms historically, including Zionism, it might seem odd that the self-declared “Jewish State” would build alliances with mainstreamed American neo-Nazism. An uncomfortable alliance, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu singing former US President Donald Trump’s praises one day and the next having to mildly push back against the anti-Semitism of Trumpism and Trump’s “mistake” in throwing a dinner for anti-Semites. It might seem strange the shortsightedness of that state’s legitimation of “far-right movements” – which is newspeak for white supremacist resurgence – for the short-term gains of colonialism.

But it is not odd. Settler white supremacy everywhere shares one dream.

The settler colonists’ dream for Palestine is its Americanisation. Their dream is to achieve the American dream. This dream is not suburban white picket fences and golden retrievers catching frisbees in the back yard. It is not of leafy socialist kibbutzim and a haven from murderous European anti-Semitism. It is the dream of the elimination of the natives. And as the native is never fully eliminated, settler colonialism must work out an intricately maintained, collective hallucination about the land. Imposing a new language, renaming beloved places and expelling the populations who cling on to them and still speak their names. Settler colonialism is the permanent cascade of delusions over indigenous land. A papier-mache castle built on homes wrested away, fortified and patrolled by genocidaires who oblige all, using napalm or ideology, to accept the occupation as a “country”, that is, a permanent structure that shall not be moved.

The dream of settler colonialism in Palestine, as is the dream of settler colonialism in every place it invades, is to rid the natives of their claims and where feasible rid the land of the natives itself. It is the dream of replacement, in fits and starts, of indigenity with whiteness. This, in fact, is how the white supremacist’s “theory” of the “great replacement” should be read – as a projection of settler fantasy rebounded as settler anxiety.

The dream of all settlers is to erase the natives and the violent ethnic cleansing they are being subjected to so that the “settlement” can be perceived as a single, benevolent and permanent entity: “our country”. A country of quaint little towns and suburbs which True Crime documentaries swear are places “where nothing violent ever happens and communities go about living the [American] dream”. Communities which are all, without exception, sites of ethnic cleansing and deliberately unmarked graves. It is this shared dream of permanent occupation and ethnic expulsion that has proven enticing enough to inspire some racists in the United States and elsewhere to reach across the aisle of anti-Semitism, temporarily, in solidarity with the cause of white supremacist violence. This Nazi olive-branching has occurred before – one is reminded of comments on white supremacist blogs who offered solidarity with the killer of Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, despite the fact that he “looked Hispanic” and had a “Jewish sounding” last name.

Settler colonialism in Palestine is hurriedly trying to catch up with an older settler colonial occupation that has seared its name, “America”, with a branding iron across the back of another colonised land. It is taking the same path. “Israeli” Andrew Jacksons are launching wars of elimination against the “hostile natives”. In Palestine the “punitive expedition” is equipped with guided missiles. Whereas colonists in past centuries praised the collective punishment of rebellious natives they now say they mourn “the tragic loss of civilian life.” In the 21st century, colonialism wears a funeral gown. The liberal US President funds genocide while delivering regretful Juneteenth speeches and attending “tribal summits” to “heal the wrongs of the past”.

Here and there, then and now, settler colonialism is the same thing. It is the same justified massacres. The same killing spectacles to shock and awe insurgent tribes. It is the same demonising of Indigenous resistance. It is the romanticised founding violence, “Western expansion”, into a land simultaneously without a people and teeming with savages.

Zionism is Americanism that is late to the game. It might not yet have had time to invent its own cowboys and country westerns rewriting extermination campaigns into fables of heroism. It does not yet boast of a home-grown, global country music industry with Jason Aldean-styled chart-topping ballads to lynching. The violence of its “founding” has continued into a time when politicians can no longer issue decrees offering rewards for bringing back “native” scalps or praise bare-chested men, keeling over moonshine excited to hunt for escaped slaves and renegade “Indians”.

It is the same old settler colonialism but caught between two times. The lynch mob society at home must be circumspect on the world stage.  Both open ethno-nationalist hatred and the need to say it regrets the loss of civilian life. “Opening humanitarian corridors” as well as inviting US conservative politicians to sign munitions known to be bound for children for settler-exciting photo ops. Touting progressive laws and advances in medicine and technology as well as preserving the race riot, burning people out of their homes, kicking away aid packages, and watching the burning of the native sector behind clinking glasses of after-work rooftop watch parties.

Still, America is Big Bro. It is an instructive example of how one goes about preventing the right of return. Before the forced death marches to Rafah, a century earlier there were Trails of Tears on land – and trailing the slave-ships traversing the Atlantic. A century before the building of settlements in the West Bank and anywhere in Palestine, there were police and the law working together to clear Black people off their farms in the US south. The murders of African Americans in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the white mob butchering and expelling of Black people from Elaine, Arkansas in Springfield, Illinois and 1,000 other small towns a century ago are restaged in settler race riots against Palestinians.

The repeat of settler anti-Indigenous and anti-Black violence in anti-Palestinian violence (not to render invisible Black Palestinians), the identical justifications and accusations of savagery and innate criminality, reveal not an imitation of Americanism but an advancement of it. Zionism is Americanism that is both late to the game of settler colonialism and has leapfrogged and made more efficient its supremacism and racial violence. The lynch mob beats its chest in 1890s Tennessee and contemporary Jerusalem equally hard but America has not sold settler victimisation (or “white working class grievance”) nowhere as well as Israel has mobilised empathy in service of murder.

The settler everywhere dreams of their America. The hawkish right cheering on massacres, the hawkish left waiting patiently for the business of “founding” violence to be over so it can speak about reconciliation on settler terms and promise that settler colonialism can evolve into something other than an abattoir. And wherever the settler is, so will be America – left or right, Biden or Trump – with funds and guns to arm the dream. It is all that can be expected from the perhaps newly post-racial, settler white supremacist international. That is why it remains important for us to stop dreaming that the West will one day wean itself away from colonial violence. Colonial violence is what “the West” is. It is more prudent to work, instead, towards a post-Western future. As the rising global anticolonial counter to the West’s Nazi renaissance is showing, the US, and every other white supremacist “nation” is a fiction of settler imagination. But land is not a dog that will run to the beck and call of any master – it still speaks our name. History has yet to see an equal and opposite response from the colonised world. From we the un-eliminated. The un-exterminated. The non-dreamers. The opps.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.


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