PITERBERG, Gabriel. US History professor: racist Zionist "inability to accept the existence of the indigenous people as equal human beings, but also at the same time the inability to remove them"

Gabriel Piterberg is Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles and is the author of “The Returns of Zionism: Myths, Politics and Scholarship in Israel”. Gabriel Piterberg was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and grew up in Israel. He graduated at Tel Aviv University, where he majored in Middle East history and political science (BA), and Middle East and European history (MA). His D.Phil. in the history of the Ottoman Empire is from the University of Oxford. He taught at the University of Durham, England, and Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel (see: http://www.history.ucla.edu/people/faculty?lid=996 ).

Gabriel Piterberg: on the British Empire and British  Protestant  basis for racist Zionism and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine (2009): “ the return to the Old Testament as an unmediated source of authority is a Protestant phenomenon, it is not a Jewish precept or principle. And so the idea that you return to the Old Testament as a source of authority for narrative veracity, for political legitimacy, for ideologies of settlement, is originally Protestant. Secondly, the specific idea that the Jews should be restored to their homeland, which is theirs by Biblical right, is something that when we come to modernity, emerged in England from the late 18th century to the middle of the 19th century, and this has been well-documented and it's from sources which are Low Church Evangelical Protestant Anglicanism that this idea that the Bible should not be interpreted - by Bible I mean Old Testament - should not be interpreted allegorically but literally. And when it says that the Jews should be restored to the homeland that had been promised to them by God, then it means doing so literally. And I think, at least in ideational, intellectual terms, but later also politically, because Britain became such a powerful - was such a powerful Empire that conquered Palestine eventually - this is the real origin of Zionism, both as an idea and as a political possibility… I think what is called ordinarily the Palestinian-Israeli, or Palestinian-Zionist conflict is not a conflict just between two national movements vying for the same piece of land, it is a conflict between a national movement of settlers and a national movement of indigenous people. If we remove for a moment ethical considerations and look at it cold-bloodedly, then in cases like Australia and the US, the situation has been resolved because the settlers exterminated the native population, which does no longer exist as a politically viable issue or movement or agency. What happened in Palestine is that the major attempt by the settlers to ethnically cleanse the territory over which there was conflict succeeded but was not completed. The native population has been sorely and heavily defeated but it is still there. Now what's happening with the settlers is that they can't come to terms on the one hand with the existence of indigenous people as equal human beings with whom you somehow have to resign yourself to achieving some sort of liveable arrangement, be it two States, one State, that matters less, but at the same time they can't really remove them, and with the passage of time, however violent they become, they cannot achieve that. And I think this creates a situation which is not only stuck without resolution, but is becoming dynamically more and more explosive. Because of this tension between exponentially growing power of the settler-state, and inability to accept the existence of the indigenous people as equal human beings, but also at the same time the inability to remove them, irrevocably this is also clear, and I think this is the - basically this is the gist of the conflict.” [1].

[1].  Professor Gabriel Piterberg  interviewed by Gary Bryson in “Voices of Dissent” , ABC Radio National, “Encounter”, 22 March 2009: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/encounter/voices-of-dissent/3135248 .

Comments