Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sorry Guys, You're not Colonialists After All

This Israeli-born llama is also not a colonialist

The Follow-Up Committee for the Arabs in Israel has issued a correction to the Hebrew version of its "Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel" report that was first published in December 2006. A mistake in the translation from the Arabic original, members of the committee said, made the report appear "too extreme" (Ynet).

The mistake appears in a section on "The Palestinian Arabs in Israel and their Relation to the State of Israel." According to the committee's chairman, Shawqi Khatib, the Hebrew version uses the word "colonialist," where the authoritative Arabic-language report referred to "settlement." The mistake arose because an earlier draft of the report, written by Dr. As'ad Ghanem, had employed the former term, "ist'imaar" (colonialism استعمار). After opposition from the majority of the committee, that word was changed to "istitaan" (settlement- استيطان). However, someone forgot to revise the Hebrew translation to reflect this change [for the reference to "istitaan", see p. 9 of the in the Arabic version of the "Future Vision"].

The timing of this announcement is surely not accidental. It is possible that the error was only discovered recently, but the 'Azmi Bishara affair has surely alarmed some of the members of the committee further. For many Jewish Israelis, the description of Israel as a "colonialist" entity implies a belief that it ought to disappear - just like the French and British colonies in the Middle East did after WWII.

Here is the full paragraph from the Hebrew version of the report:
ישראל היא תולדה של פעולה קולוניאליסטית אותה יזמו האליטות היהודיות-ציוניות באירופה ובמערב. היא הוקמה בסיוע מדינות קולוניאליסטיות, והתחזקה בצל התעצמות ההגירה היהודית לפלסטין לאור תוצאות מלחמת העולם השנייה והשואה. לאחר תקומתה בשנת 1948 המשיכה ישראל בהנהגת מדיניות הנגזרת מראייתה את עצמה כנציגות המערב במזרח התיכון, והמשיכה להתעמת עם סביבתה באופן מתמיד וברמות שונות. כן המשיכה ליישם מדיניות קולוניאליסטית פנימית נגד אזרחיה הערבים הפלסטינים.
[Israel is the product of colonialist activity initiated by the Jewish-Zionist elites in Europe and in the West. It was established with the aid of colonialist states and was strengthened by the increase in Jewish immigration to Palestine as a result of the outcome of the Second World War and the Sho'ah. After its establishment in 1948, Israel continued to lead a policy derived from a view of itself as a representative of the West in the Middle East, and continued to clash with its environment in a constant manner and at different levels. Moreover, [Israel] continued to implement a colonialist policy domestically against its Arab Palestinian citizens.]
Here is the official English translation. Note how it diverges from the Hebrew text above:
Israel is the outcome of a settlement process initiated by the Zionist–Jewish elite in Europe and the west and realized by Colonial countries contributing to it and by promoting Jewish immigration to Palestine, in light of the results the Second World War and the Holocaust. After the creation of the States in 1948, Israel continued to use policies derived from its vision as an extension of the west in the Middle East and continued conflicting with its neighbors. Israel also continued executing internal colonial policies against its Palestinian Arab citizens [emphasis added].

John adds:

The following is a list of source documents:
1) The Arabic version of the Future Vision Report
2) The English Revised version
3) The original English version - I don't know how long this will be up, but apparently, the webmasters at the Musaawa center forgot to prohibit access to their Reports Directory
4) The Hebrew version of the Future Vision report


Anonymous said...

What is the relation between the correction, which is 100% milder, and the Azmi Bashra affair? It is kind of sad when the Israeli evacuation of Gaza is seen as a proof that Jews understand only force and when this correction comes after AB has in fact become a refugee who depends more on Arab generosity and good will and less on the Israeli, less than perfect, judicial system.

Jeha said...

Political Correctness in the Middle East?

This is a "Byzantine" debate; for all practical purposes a colonization process is the same as a settlement process.

This has always been the course of human history; in our region, the colonization of Asia minor by Turkic tribes was all but complete in the 18th Century, forming the kernel of modern-day Turkey. The Levant of today is essentially an Arab colony where the colons mixed with the locals... Egypt has less of a mix, with its indigenous inhabitants, the Copts, still present...

We're all colonists. It all goes down to the timing; the rest is splitting hairs.