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An exercise in omitting Israel’s colonial foundations

July 22, 2023 at 11:17 am

U.S. President Joe Biden (C – R) meets with Israeli President Isaac Herzog (C – L) at the White House in Washington D.C., United States on July 18, 2023 [Haim Zach (GPO) / Handout – Anadolu Agency]

Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s address to the US Congress on Wednesday was a mix of melodrama and colonial nostalgia. Attempting to conceal the politics of settler-colonialism and collaboration, Herzog made vague references to hope, unity and democracy, even as Israel’s military-industrial complex remains a major exporter of colonial surveillance and violence to the rest of the world.

“Israel’s first seventy-five years were rooted in an ancient dream. Let us base our next seventy-five years on hope. Our shared hope, that we can heal our fractured world, as the closest of allies and friends,” Herzog told US lawmakers.

Yet, Israel recently not only fractured Jenin refugee camp, but destroyed it, rendering a forcibly displaced population refugees once again. The US, as committed as ever to Israel’s fabricated security narrative, voiced no objection. And so, at the US Congress, the exported narrative of the Zionist dream, told through insignificant detail in terms of politics, was granted an audience.

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Herzog’s attempt to appeal to sentiment would only gain traction among Israel and its collaborators. Hence the story of an American Jewish man who “voluntarily boarded a ship to Haifa, fought in the Israeli military and fell in the battle for Israel’s independence” some weeks before his wedding. This story, Herzog noted: “Spoke to the very core of the bond forged between the people of the United States and the people of Israel.” Not at all. In both cases, the colonisers massacred and displaced the indigenous populations. The US and Israel have much in common regarding colonial violence and how this has been normalised through mainstream democratic discourse that fails to look into historical trajectories.

Using the biblical narrative, Herzog’s speech attempted to create the illusion of the perfect state flourishing since 1948. Of course, the Palestinian Nakba was completely omitted. Instead, the discourse of returning home was used, while the bloody history of Zionist paramilitaries massacring Palestinians and destroying their towns and villages made no appearance in Herzog’s speech, indicating how Israel omits its own historical narrative, both verbally and geographically. The replacement of the indigenous Palestinian population with settler-colonists strengthens Israel’s role in manufacturing oblivion for its settler-colonial population and international diplomacy.

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While omitting the Nakba, Herzog refers to “our Palestinian neighbours”. Blatantly lying, he stated: “Over the years, Israel has taken bold steps towards peace and made far-reaching proposals to our Palestinian neighbours.” Since 1948, Israel’s expansion has created a permanent displacement of the indigenous Palestinian population; de-facto annexation is a reality. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently stated that he wants to eliminate all prospects of a Palestinian state, hence the raid on Jenin refugee camp to try to prevent a new unified Palestinian resistance from altering the political status quo, starring the Palestinian Authority as the main collaborator of Israel.

“Terror is hatred and bloodshed,” Herzog insisted. True, but this should be applied to Israel’s colonial violence over the decades. Palestinian anti-colonial resistance is legitimate and wouldn’t be necessary if decolonisation takes place. Israel’s colonial violence, on the other hand, is integral to Israel’s existence as its main founding pillar extended to the present day. “True peace cannot be anchored in violence,” Herzog expressed. So how about Israel addresses its own brutal history?

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