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Opinion: Israeli imperialism

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Israel continues to enlarge its sphere of influence just as it did in the past with Gaza, and now with the settlements in the West Bank.

Israel has continually imposed economic regulations upon all trading within the Gaza strip. Just last year the BBC released a report that Egypt was trying to help the oil crisis occurring in Gaza. Egypt was only allowed to trade through Israel because Israel controls all goods that pass over the border. That is imperialism disguised as security. In this day and age, if a country deems that something is a threat to their security, they are given permission to deal with it by any means necessary. This opens the doors for Israel to continue to exploit and oppress the people of Gaza. This is the problem when offensive military actions are taken in the name of defensive military reasons. The Israeli’s also regulate who and who isn’t allowed to go in or out of Gaza, further isolating these people from their freedom to live in an open society. If you adhere to the idea that a Palestinian has the same worth as an Israeli, then it becomes impossible to support the idea that one person’s rights can be thwarted for another’s security.

Now that peace talks are underway between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, or PLO, the issue of Israeli settlements has come up again. Three years ago it was because of the settlements that the PLO left talks. Now, even though they are talking again, Israel still continues its settlement expansion. The majority of the settlers don’t fanatically support this expansion, but the government and religious zealots believe they have a divine right to this land. Yariv Oppenheimer, director for Peace Now, said, “About a third of all West Bank settlers could be defined as ideological.” Aron Heller from the Huffington Post goes on to say, “In contrast to the prevailing image of settlers as gun-toting religious zealots, the majority are in fact middle-of-the-road pragmatists seeking quality of life. Many shun the settler ideology and say they will uproot quietly, if needed, for the sake of peace.” Micha Drori, a 42 year old businessman and a West Bank settler, said, “God is not my guide. My guide is conscience and economy and community.”

Imperialism is the practice of extending power and dominion of a nation by gaining territory or taking control of the political or economic spheres. Israel’s actions fit the definition of imperialism because of what they have done in terms of Gaza and the West Bank. If the Israeli government would stop pushing a Zionist agenda, and actually listen to their people, then they might start to realize that most people just want peace. You would think an ideology such as Zionism would have more empathy for people in these kinds of situations. JR, a street artist, won the 2011 Ted Prize for helping communities through street art. He traveled to Israel and he took pictures of both Arabs and Israelis and plastered them on the walls that separated them. He then asked people to identify the races in the art, and they couldn’t do it. This is because race is nothing more than a label that is ascribed to us. It’s a socially constructed identity that is used to separate and control us. As Gilles Deluze and Felix Guattari wrote in Anti-Oedipus, when we connect to other humans, “…names and identities slide off our persons like a stamp that is too wet.” To say one is Arab or one is Israeli is just another mode of oppression that perpetuates the status quo. This world is spinning out of control because we bog ourselves down with these labels instead of fighting that which exploits us. Israel must listen to its people and the cries from Palestine, because the surface is slippery and ready to burn. If Israel doesn’t change it’s policies, then more extreme measures may need to be taken whether through Hamas, Hezbollah or the Israeli people themselves. This may be in the form of justified appropriate terrorism or a revolution.

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