Dr. Noam Weissman explains that there are two ways of looking at colonialism. Colonialism with a “lowercase c” refers to the movement of a people from one area to another to settle that land and create communities there. This is what the Zionist movement did by helping initiate the mass immigration of Jews to their ancestral homeland during a time in which mass atrocities against the Jewish people was the norm. The other version of colonialism, with a “capital c”, is about extending the power of one country over another in order to extend their hegemony and derive financial gain while expanding an empire. This type of colonialism is in line with British colonialism which existed in pre-state Israel.Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the leader of the Revisionist Zionist movement (1880-1948) wrote the following about the Arabs of Palestine in his famous piece “The Iron Wall” in 1923:“Every native population in the world resists colonists as long as it has the slightest hope of being able to rid itself of the danger of being colonised. That is what the Arabs in Palestine are doing, and what they will persist in doing as long as there remains a solitary spark of hope that they will be able to prevent the transformation of “Palestine” into the “Land of Israel.””
Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern political Zionism wrote the following in his iconic pamphlet “The Jewish State” in 1896:
“Here two territories come under consideration, Palestine and Argentina. In both countries important experiments in colonization have been made, though on the mistaken principle of a gradual infiltration of Jews. An infiltration is bound to end badly. It continues till the inevitable moment when the native population feels itself threatened, and forces the Government to stop a further influx of Jews. Immigration is consequently futile unless we have the sovereign right to continue such immigration.”
Both Jabotinsky and Herzl used the term “colonialism” when discussing Zionism. What do you think they meant when they used this term? Are they referring to “lowercase c” or “capital c” colonialism? Do you think their use of the term was different from the way the term is used today?