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Israel resents being called out for its colonialism

April 11, 2023 at 5:00 pm

A number of Israeli ministers and lawmakers join a rally on Monday in support of settlement building in the West Bank, on April 10, 2023. [Enes Canlı – Anadolu Agency]

Israeli media are swift to react to the slightest criticism that lays bare the farce of Israel’s security narrative. Recent comments on Twitter by the UN’s Special Rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian Territories, Francesca Albanese, prompted an article in the Times of Israel lambasting her tweets and taking issue with the descriptions of Israel as a colonial enterprise, and yet this is the sort of language which the UN should adopt for clarity.

For context, Albanese’s tweet, in which she stated, “Israel has a right to defend itself, but can’t claim it when it comes to the people it oppresses/whose lands it colonises,” included a link to a recent statement by EU High Representative Josep Borrell which upheld Israel’s security narrative. “Israel has the right to defend itself. At the same time, any response must be proportionate,” said Borrell, while calling for “all parties to exercise maximum restraint.”

In a further tweet, Albanese clarified that her statement pertained to “the territory that Israel has occupied as of 1967 … (this is the land I refer to, which Israel is colonising without any doubt).”

While Albanese’s mandate covers the territories occupied since 1967, Israel’s establishment in 1948 is also a colonial endeavour. The distinction may be useful in terms of defining the mandate but not so clear about the colonial foundations of Israel. Nevertheless, the possibility that Israel’s security narrative could be unravelled prompted allegations of anti-Semitism, of which Israeli media claim Albanese has “a history”. The Times of Israel also took issue with the UN and its affiliated institutions for allegedly sharing “anti-Israel content”.

However, Israel’s security narrative is tied directly to its colonial existence and expansion. It is also a dominant narrative within international discourse; one that is protected by the UN and also one that features prominently to combat the legitimacy of the Palestinian people’s anti-colonial resistance. Hypocritically, this is done within the veneer of human rights discourse.

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In the absence of sustainable arguments to defend Israel’s security narratives, Israeli media targeted Albanese for using terminology that depicts Israeli colonialism and violence. Despite much ado about the UN’s alleged anti-Israel bias, the UN has actually championed the ongoing Israeli colonisation of Palestinian land through futile non-binding resolutions and, of course, refusing to challenge Israel’s security narrative even when Israel commits war crimes, which should be the most blatantly obvious example of how to manipulate security concerns.

A lone voice like Albanese will find no support within the echelons of the UN, unlike those who back Israel’s violent colonial enterprise. It is a fact that Israel can’t claim self-defence; a colonial power that is responsible for the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians from their land is the aggressor, not the victim. The Palestinians’ right to legitimate anti-colonial struggle exists because colonialism is a violation of international law. The UN validating Israel’s colonial violence, even though Israel perpetually alleges otherwise, does not give the colonial enterprise the right to self-defence against the legitimate Palestinian resistance which has been abandoned by the international community. Indeed, the Palestinians’ right to their own defence is not spoken of, as if acquiescence is the only expectation that the UN has of them.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.