On Zionism and settler colonialism: Nora Scholtes, ‘”Bulwark against Asia”: Zionist Exclusivism and Palestinian Responses’, PhD Dissertation, Universiy of Kent, 2015
Abstract: This thesis offers a consideration of how the ideological foundations of Zionism determine the movement’s exclusive relationship with an outside world that is posited at large and the native Palestinian population specifically. Contesting Israel’s exceptionalist security narrative, it identifies, through an extensive examination of the writings of Theodor Herzl, the overlapping settler colonialist and ethno-nationalist roots of Zionism. In doing so, it contextualises Herzl’s movement as a hegemonic political force that embraced the dominant European discourses of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including anti-Semitism. The thesis is also concerned with the ways in which these ideological foundations came to bear on the Palestinian and broader Ottoman contexts. A closer consideration of Ottoman Palestine reveals a hidden history of imperial inclusivity that stands in stark contrast to the Zionist settler colonial model. The thesis explores the effects of the Zionist project on Palestine’s native population, highlighting early reactions to the marginalisation and exclusion suffered, as well as emerging strategies of resistance that locate an alternative, non-nationalist vision for the future of the region in the collective reappropriation of a pre-colonial past. The question is broached about the role that Palestinian literature can play within the context of such reclaiming efforts. More precisely, it debates whether Palestinian life writing emanating from the occupied territories contributes, in its recording of personal history, to the project of re-writing national history in opposition to the attempted Israeli erasure. Finally, by drawing a direct line from original Zionist thought to the politics and policies of the state of Israel today, the thesis suggests an on-going settler colonial structure that has become increasingly visible through the state’s use of spatially restrictive measures in order to finally conclude its settlement project. Israel’s obsessive ‘walling’ is discussed in that context as the physical escalation of Zionism’s founding ideological tenets.
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