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Prof. Ilan Pappe is the best known member of Israel’s generation of “new historians” who have been rewriting the history of Israel’s founding in 1948. Pappe’s seminal book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, was published in 2006 while he was teaching at Haifa University. The publication led to personal attacks on him in the Israeli Knesset and in Israel’s academia. Pappe left Israel in 2008 for the University of Exeter in Britain. There he is currently the director of the university’s European Center for Palestine Studies.
In Part ONE Pappe introduced the term Settler Colonialism. As opposed to Colonialism where land is occupied and resources extracted but in the end the colonizers go back home, in the new era of Settler Colonialism the settlers come with a one way ticket and make the occupied land their home.
Pappe said that it is very important to talk about Settler Colonialism in the US. Many of the new settlers escaped from Europe because they were persecuted. These formerly persecuted groups often became oppressors in turn. And in Israel, where Ilan Pappe was born in 1954, the formerly persecuted Jews are now the oppressors of Palestinians. And, in a huge historic irony, the old Settler Colonialist state of North America protects the new Settler Colonialist State of Israel from being held responsible for human rights violations against Palestinians.
Ilan Pappe described five issues that need to be addressed in order to bring about peace between Palestinians and Israelis. Among them Anti-semitism and Islamophobia. In part TWO he brings up social justice and human rights and says that around the world Palestine is becoming the symbol of injustice. Not because the Palestine issue is the worst, there are worse rogue states than Israel – says Pappe. Sympathy for Palestinians is nourished not only by the cruelty of the Israeli occupier but the pretense that what we see is justified, a moral policy, done for defense and worthy of ever growing financial and military support from the US.
He says that a mass movement of young people is just beginning to emerge, partly focused around the campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK. The youth reject any cynical system of politics with no moral backbone or set of values, be it domestic or in foreign policy.
Pappe concludes that Palestine is still the issue because we urgently need a conversation about civil and human rights in all of the Middle East, including Syria and Iraq. If you want to talk about human rights in Yemen or Libya, start in Palestine.
He says that we need to find out how to protect the civil and human rights of both Palestinians and settlers within a new One State solution. And to fulfill the wish to create a normal, democratic, human life for everyone who lives between the Jordan and the Mediterranean – and everyone who was expelled and wishes to come back home.
Professor Ilan Pappe spoke in Berkeley, CA, on May 2, 2016, at the anniversary of the Middle East Children’s Alliance. He was recorded by Jeff Blankfort.