Wednesday, February 7, 2024

A closer look at the racist myth at the heart of Selina Robinson’s comments


Selina Robinson Canada settler colonialism Palestine racism politics education myths prejudices Zionism

The B.C. cabinet minister resigned after calling historic Palestine ‘a crappy piece of land with nothing on it’

In the Western imagination, Palestine of the 19th century was a dreary and uninviting place, a “desolate backwater” devoid of resources or economic potential.

“Of all the lands there are for dismal scenery, I think Palestine must be the prince,” Mark Twain wrote in particularly glum dispatch in 1867, after travelling to the Middle East. “The valleys are unsightly deserts fringed with a feeble vegetation that has an expression about it of being sorrowful and despondent.… It is a hopeless, dreary, heart-broken land.”

Though these depictions all but ignore the presence of a diverse and deeply-rooted Arab society that existed between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, they became the basis for a now-infamous slogan invoked by many early Zionists to justify the efforts to settle the land of Palestine.

“A land without a people for a people without a land.”

Israel Zangwill – an early British Zionist who later rejected the search for a Jewish homeland in Palestine – neatly expressed the racist and Eurocentric notions that underlie the phrase during a debate in 1901: “Palestine has but a small population of Arabs and fellahin and wandering, lawless, blackmailing Bedouin tribes,” he was quoted as saying. “Restore the country without a people to the people without a country.”  (more...)

A closer look at the racist myth at the heart of Selina Robinson’s comments

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