Saturday, January 24, 2009

Opinion: Woe to the Victors - Meron Benvenisti

Haaretz, January 22, 2009 - The masterminds of Operation Cast Lead sought to characterize it in two contradictory terms: "the landlord has gone insane" and is retaliating with unbridled savagery; and "controlled rage," or a rational military operation that is aimed at deterring the other side. Alongside these two concepts can be added another: a repeated reflexive, instinctive response by a supplanting immigrant society.

David Day, one of the most prominent scholars who has researched the process by which immigrant societies take control of indigenous populations, writes: "Such ruthless reactions to any sign of resistance from indigenous people has the effect of emphasizing in the minds of both the conquerors and the conquered the scale and completeness of the conquest and the uselessness of further resistance, although in the long term such worthlessness might undermine the moral claim of the supplanting society to the possession of the newly won territory."

Indeed, there are many historical precedents in which the violent behavior of indigenous peoples against their dispossession has been used as a pretext for their expulsion and to justify a disproportionate military response, all under the guise of "a war on terror" whose goal is to break their spirit and usurp their land. An odious scent of imperialistic mildew wafts from the Gazan operation as well as similar operations that have been launched in the past....

Meron Benvenisti is an Israeli political scientist and Haaretz columnist who was Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem from 1971 to 1978 and administered East Jerusalem and its largely Arab neighbourhoods.

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