The Annals of Settler Colonialism: German Namibia (1) #savagesunite

Settler colonialism has a long and unsavory history and always involves displacing people from their land, driving them into penury, making and keeping them stateless, and, often, killing large numbers of them. The settlers brand resistance to their squatting on other people’s land “terrorism” by “savages.”

One of the few contemporary examples of settler colonialism is that of Israelis in the Palestinian West Bank. The number of Palestinians who have died from infant mortality, poor health conditions and lack of sanitation, loss of farms and other property and attendant penury, and other ill effects of the Israeli expulsion of their families in 1948 and 1967 and then occupation and colonization since 1967 is surely in the hundreds of thousands at least, though this toll is seldom considered. (As is typical in Western settler colonialism, the cost to the indigenous population of the enterprise is elided.)

Saree Makdisi’s Palestine Inside Out is an eloquent exposition of the banal horrors of occupied life under the Israeli boot.

Among the more important and yet amazingly little-known precedents for settler colonialism is German Southwest Africa (now Namibia). IC is carrying the six-part series.

Part 1 is below:

8 Responses

  1. What is unique about the legal status of West Bank Palestinians is that all major governmental functions are administered via the “Civil Administration” an Israeli governmental body.

    The true ruling power in the West Bank are IDF military district commanders and Arabs are criminally tried in IDF military tribunals without juries whereas Jewish settlers have their legal cases heard in Israeli courts; the IDF has humiliating checkpoints and Jewish settlers are separated from the Arabs by the IDF. The IDF restricts ordinary travel with onerous paperwork requirements. Mundane legal matters such as realty deed recordation and marriages were administered by the churches after 1967.

    West Bank Palestinians had no voting rights or representative form of government outside local mayors and other municipal officials until the creation of the Palestinian Authority in the 1990s.

  2. Dear Professor Cole

    As I watched yet another recitation of the crimes of the Germans, I was struck by a number of thoughts.

    I think it is important that your readers realise that the Belgians have equally tragic stories in their past.

    link to

    The whole “Scramble for Africa in the late 19th century gave rise to enormous cruelty whether people were ruled by British, French, Belgians or Germans.

    I expect the same will be true of the present day “Scramble for Africa” between the Chinese and the Americans and the Capitalists.

    link to

    You do however raise an important question that you as a reputable historian might help clarify for me.

    At what point does a crime in international law become simply a historical event? Do the Israelis simply need to hang on to the territory until all the survivors of the Nakbha and the 1967 occupation are dead?

    At what point can the self flagellation of the Germans over the application of the theories of Eugenics cease?

    Can the descendants of the Armenian genocide make a claim against the present day Turkish Government?

    Are the Italians liable for claims for restitution or damages resulting from the invasions during the Roman Empire?

    • Historical rights and wrongs are less important than the *present* Occupation and dispossession of, e.g., the Palestinians!

    • There is no Statute of Limitations on War Crimes & Crimes Against Humanity, the only limiting factor is the evidence trail.

      The precedent in International Law is the descendants of Holocaust victims, who are still considered – without generational or time limit – to be entitled to reparations & to the restoration of property stolen by the Nazis.

      Also octogenarian, nonagenarian & older ex-Nazis are still being sought, identified & prosecuted as War Criminals.

      Evidence relating to the Nakba, etc., is considered to be extremely strong.

        • Ilan Pappe, cited in the Wikipedia link above, is a former history professor from Israel who ran on the left-wing Meretz Party list for the Israeli Knesset. He has extensively written about Plan Dalet as a blueprint to ethnically cleanse Palestine concomtant with the 1948 Declaration of Independence. He now teaches in Great Britain.

          While Professor Pappe is considered one of the foremost Isareli scholars on Plan Dalet, his findings have been disputed by other historical scholars on the subject.

          And in actuality, many of Israel’s leaders were in fact criminally charged for Nakba activity. Up until the 1970s a criminal arrest warrant was pending in the United Kingdom for Menachem Begin arising out of his leadership of the Irgun gang. Recently deceased Yitzhak Shamir served time in a British prison in Sudan for his activities. There is a British Mandate wanted poster with Shamir’s picture dating back to 1943 alongside Avraham Stern’s photo – both holding leadership positions in the notorious Stern Gang. Stern was eventually shot and killed by British colonial police.

          When the Israel Defense Forces was created, the Palmach and Haganah militias were absorbed into that force, whereas Irgun and Stern gang members were excluded as undesirable.

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