Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The origin of settlements

Someone pointed out to me in the comment section that Kfar Darom was actually built in 1946 (according to the Jewish Virtual Library, "to prevent the British from separating the Negev from the Jewish state") , abandoned in 1948, and re-established (again, the JVL says "reformed", that it was never abandoned) some time after that as the Kfar Darom of the recent past.

"just a comment about kfar darom: it was a zionist kibutz built in 1946. Abandoned in 1948 after it was besieged by the Egyptian army. A settlment carrying the same name was built in 1989, but as far as i know, they had no connection to the pre-48 settlers. "

Of course residents of Dair al-Balah say many of the inhabitants remained well through the '50s, even under Egyptian rule.

Brings up the interesting debate about the origins of the settlement movement. Essentially, Israel itself was founded on settlements. Many settlers I've spoken to consider themselves "pioneers" establishing "villages" or Kibbutzim and tell me that they have gotten a bad rep in the media as "agressors and occupiers". Does that exhonerate them? I think not.

It seems that a thin red line was drawn somewhere at some point, and suddenly some kind of status quo was reached where it was no longer acceptable, at least in the eyes of the international community, to used this method of "pioneering" on other people's land to expand the borders and claim to your state (See: native americans. Also see: facts on the ground.).


Blogger ratttu said...

should be writing my thesis but i can't help it... just a few comments. things as i see them.

Without getting into moral judgments, there are considerable and undeniably differences between the Zionist per-48 settlers and the post-67 ones.
Generally, the first came from Eastern Europe, usually from economic hardship and persecution. They were socialist in spirit, and mostly secular. They were supported by Zionist organizations but not so much by the British.

The second group, mostly religious, came either from the Israel or immigrated from affluent Western countries. They are about as far from socialist as you can get. They received State backing, financially and militarily. And they have their very own racist version of national-religious Judaism (that's my view).

To say the second group is a continuation of the first is a bit meaningless... what i mean is that they can say they continue the same 'principles', but the reality - political and social - is completely different.

As you say the world has changed. What was accepted, or even encouraged, a hundred years ago, became unaccepatable more or less in the middle of the century.

We can go on to debate about the original Zionist settlers (my grandparents by the way) - a long problematic story. The thing is that for me, they were first and formost refugees from Europe. It doesn't change the tragedy of 1948 for the Palestinians, but it definitely makes them different from the current settlers.

12:38 AM  
Blogger Laila said...

Rattu-thanks for much for the comments, I forget to say that earlier. Been very tired and overworked lately. Canyou believe I am up at 3am! Will comment more tommorow.

3:10 AM  
Blogger Zippy said...

We asked a similar question in this post recently.

What should be noted is that prior to disengagement the Israeli court termed the occupation of Gaza as "belligerent occupation" and that formed the legal basis for disengagement. Tellingly they have not been asked to rule on the occupation of West Bank.

Without settlers though there would never have been a land of Israel for a state of Israel.


1:27 PM  
Blogger lisoosh said...

I know that it was touched apon already in the comments but I would like to point out that many if not most of the early "pioneers" from the 1900's and the 1940's and 50's were themselves in fact refugees. In the 1900's they were escaping from the pogroms of Eastern Europe (although pride made them talk and react in a more proactive manner) and the 40's obviously the great drive was the holocaust.
I also don't think that it detracts from what the Palestinians went through and the homes that were lost, I don't believe that two wrongs make a right, but I do think that it helps to understand that those were desparate times and desparate people trying to survive.
The settlements of today within the West Bank and Gaza were built in a completely different way and with different motivations. They may also have been viewed differently had Israel annexed the areas and offered citizenship to the Palestinians

On another note - I hope it goes well for you in Gaza. Irrespective of other issues (West Bank etc.) I hope that the transition goes well and peacefully for you and that you are able to deal with the many issues that will start to arise (I believe that Lebanon wants to address the issue of refugees there) and be able to build a pleasant and prosperous home for the residents of Gaza.

5:33 PM  
Blogger Abu-Issa said...

Laila, Thank you for your continued stream of information and commentary from Palestine, it has done wonders for me being a Palestinian living in exile. My continued question is vis-a-vis the early settlers: if they were indeed 'refugees' why didn't they just imigrate legally and become Palestinian Jews? After the 400 years of Turkish occupation (and the British occupation) Palestine was on the verge of rebuilding itself. At a time when the Palestinian-Jewish population was a mere 5 percent I don't see why they wouldn't want to simply join Palestinian society...unless the goal was indeed the outcome which we see today, an exclusive Jewish state...

6:02 PM  
Blogger lisoosh said...

That's an easy one.
The early settlers 1900's did emigrate legally, they bought land from Turkish landlords and moved here to small villages, Jerusalem and communal settlements. Their numbers were fairly small, in proportion to the number of Jews in Eastern Europe, most of whom moved to Western Europe and the US. They did in fact think of themselves as Palestinians but did not formally move to "Palestine" because such a political entity did not exist, my understanding is that many Arab nations viewed the area as part of Syria.
The numbers of Jews increased steadily over the years and while there was certainly unrest and animosity between Jews and Arabs it had not yet reached all out war.
The big influence was WW II and the death of 6 million Jews in the holocaust. The remaining Jews were homeless, stateless and traumatized. Many of them wanted to move to the West but were barred from entering. They tried to move to Israel but the British (fearing reprisals from oil producing Arab nations) refused them entry and interred them in camps in Cyprus. From then on all hell broke loose, they pushed for a country, partition was suggested, the Jews accepted, the Arabs rejected and a war started.

Yes, I know this is a little simplistic, everyone will disagree with something I said. But it's a lot of history and this isn't my blog so I am not entitled to take up too much space.

2:31 AM  
Blogger ratttu said...

two general comments.
i think we should try and distinguish between the Zionist project - which was undeniabely exclusive from the start - and the actual immigrants that came for a range of reasons, some of them were Zionist enthusiasts, some didn't have any other place to go.

Also, I think Israelis find it difficult to look critically on Zionism, because they feel they will always be seen as crusaders, that the Arabs will always want kick them out. This is because the conflict was never resolved, but also because of the trauma of the Holocaust and the way it is taught and remembered in Israel. So even thoough Israel is a US ally, have the strongest army in the middle east, etc etc, Israelis live in fear. I think this fear makes it very difficult for them to think critically about Zionism. Anyone who speaks critically is seen to undermine the existance of Israel..

4:40 PM  

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