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Covering up Israel’s settler-colonial foundations

April 27, 2023 at 4:05 pm

U.S. President Joe Biden gives a speech in Monterey Park, California, United States on March 14, 2023. [Tayfun Coskun – Anadolu Agency]

With no reference to the political turbulence that Israel is currently experiencing within its settler-colonial society, let alone the horrors perpetrated by Zionist terror groups during the 1948 Nakba to establish the colonial enterprise on Palestinian land, US President Joe Biden has extended greetings to Israelis on the 75th anniversary of their ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Only he didn’t mention ethnic cleansing either.

“When David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s independence in 1948, he announced the birth of a state ‘based on freedom, justice and peace’. Just 11 minutes later, President Truman announced that the United States would be the first nation to recognise the government of Israel,” said a White House press statement.

The rest of the statement glosses over Israel’s violations of international law, including its war crimes, committed with US complicity. It focused on scientific advances and alluded to the normalisation agreements between Israel and some Arab states. All of this was juxtaposed against Biden stating that, “The US recognises the resilience of Israel’s democracy – the bedrock for our robust and special relationship.”

Ben-Gurion’s proclamation of the Israeli state was equally mired in political oblivion as was necessary to garner the international community’s support for the new colonial enterprise. Rhetoric, after all, is what the international community is good at. If the UN actually stood up for human rights, political affiliations would unravel and an anti-colonial resistance movement would become an internationalist endeavour.

Notably, Ben-Gurion’s statement blamed “the Arab inhabitants” of the land being taken, in much the same way that the Palestinian right of return as envisaged by the UN General Assembly appears to be — but shouldn’t be —conditional upon the Palestinians making peace and offering compromise after compromise to the settler-colonialists who continue to steal their land. It is no surprise that Biden takes the same line as the UN; after all, the Palestinians are less than an afterthought in the international narrative, which suits Israel very well.

READ: Kuwait demands UN hold Israel accountable for crimes against Palestinians

Biden’s statement does not mention the Palestinians once, proving how precarious it would be to call out Israel for its colonial existence, expansion and violence. The Zionist narrative of “freedom, justice and peace,” as Biden quotes Ben-Gurion, is also what the international community adopted to secure Israel’s existence at the expense of the Palestinian people. If Palestinians are removed from the Zionist narrative, which was ensured not only through ethnic cleansing but also by denying the truth about the settler-colonial society and its foundations, the veneer of a prosperous state can be sustained. A thorough reckoning, however, would alter Israel’s future. And that possibility is not a situation that the US would be happy to deal with.

The US was one of the countries that voted against a resolution passed in November last year to hold a Nakba commemoration event at the UN headquarters. The UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) announced the commemoration to be held on 15 May and it should stand in stark contrast not only to Israel’s narrative, but also to the UN’s politics in recognising Israel’s colonial project as a state. The whitewashing of Israel’s crimes, despite ample evidence of their existence, could only be carried out with international collaboration. If the US was serious about democracy, this would have been the basis of Biden’s message to the occupation state. Instead, he has simply covered up Israel’s colonial foundations.

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