Letters to the Editor: Colonialism, King Abdullah and B’Tselem

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Jordanian King Abdullah II speaking during a meeting with local political figures in the capital Amman, October 21, 2018.
Jordanian King Abdullah II speaking during a meeting with local political figures in the capital Amman, October 21, 2018. Credit: Yousef Allan/AFP

Both colonialism and national liberation

In response to “The big denial of Zionist colonialism” (October 19) and “If Zionism were colonial it would have ended long ago” (October 21). 

Haaretz is an excellent newspaper and once again, a splendid debate took place in its pages between two prominent historians: Ishay Rosen-Zvi and Alex Yakobson.

Rosen-Zvi argued that Zionism is a colonial movement that dispossessed the indigenous Palestinian population — regardless of the good intentions of the Zionists who sought first and foremost to 1. free the Jews from anti-Semitism and 2. allow them to exercise their right to national self-determination.

On the other hand, Yakobson claims that judging Zionism only through the way Palestinians felt about it is ideologically flawed. It blurs the distinction between Zionism, whose intentions were noble and legitimate, and old-fashioned colonialism, which was motivated by greed.

In other words, Ishay Rosen-Zvi contends that Zionism should be judged by its consequences for the Palestinians, while Yakobson believes that it should be appraised based on its intentions.

One is left with the strange feeling that both historians talk across each other instead of having a genuine dialogue. Can’t it be possible to look both to the intentions of the Zionist movement and its consequences for the Palestinians?

Perhaps the word ‘’colonialism’’ is too loaded emotionally and should be replaced, for the sake of argument, by ‘’conquest,’’ which is more consensual — although it makes no major difference. Berl Katznelson himself, a prominent Zionist thinker, used this term to depict the Zionist enterprise.

Now the question one can ask is whether or not a conquest can be justified in certain circumstances? Israeli author Amos Oz justified the partition of Palestine by arguing that a drowning man has the right to grasp someone else’s plank but he doesn’t have the right to push him into the water, as the Palestinians also are entitled to self-determination.

The Palestinians answer this by asking why should they be the ones sharing their plank with the Jews? Why not others? Both sides are right, as in a Greek tragedy.

From this dual perspective, it becomes easier to see Zionism both as a national liberation movement but also a conquest — or a ‘’colonial’’ — movement. Therefore, it can only be justified if its geographical scope is limited, in order to limit the damage done to the Palestinians. That being said, it is also important to understand the legitimacy of Palestinian anti-Zionism.

Bernard Bohbot

Montreal, Canada

King Abdullah, a lion in peace and in war

As a Jordanian citizen, King Abdullah II’s decision to reclaim Jordanian sovereignty over the al-Baqura and al-Ghamr territories fills me with pride.

Jordan has never relinquished its duty to honor its bilateral and multilateral agreements, to fulfill its international obligations, to address refugees’ concerns and provide them with a safe sanctuary since time immemorial, to cherish the sacredness of Islamic and Christian holy shrines in Jerusalem and the Holy Land and to be a central pillar in the war on terror.

On the contrary, what we have witnessed in return is more annexation of Arab territories, aggrandizement of Jewish settlements, the declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ceaseless attempt to ignite unholy war in the holy land. King Abdullah has proved once again that, like his father, the late late Hussein, he can be a lion in peace and war. 

Dr. Munjed Farid Al Qutob

London, England

Not my idea of human rights

In response to “B’Tselem head to UN: Time has come for action” (October 19).

Who defined B’Tselem as Israel’s leading human rights group?

Was it self-defined or was it the European Union, which funds it and the illegal construction of Arab settlements in the disputed territories?

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have separated the Gaza Strip from Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). Their civil war in 2007 put Hamas in power and drove PA supporters and Bedouin into Israel for safe haven.

It must be noted that the term “Palestinian” was only applied to Arabs after the  PLO was established by Egypt and the former Russian secret police and intelligence agency, the KGB, in 1964. Prior to that, only Jews were called “Palestinians.” Also, Gazans are mostly Egyptians, while West Bank Arabs are primarily from Jordan and Syria.

B’Tselem is a foreign-funded group with a strange concept of “human rights.” Its main function is to discredit Israel.

It has also worked to entrap Arabs who sold or who planned to sell land to Jews, a capital offense under the PA. Those turned in to the PA can expect torture and execution.

That is not my idea of human rights.

Len Bennett

Ottawa, Canada

Letters should be exclusive to Haaretz and must include the writers name, address and telephone number (an email address is not sufficient). Please note that letters are subject to editing. Please send your letters to letters@haaretz.co.il

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