"Settler Colonialism": Meet The Far Left's Version of "Jews Will Not Replace Us"

Just a few months after Donald Trump was sworn in for his only term as president in 2017, a group of neo-Nazi demonstrators marched in Charlottesville, Virginia bearing tiki torches and chanting “Jews will not replace us.” Donald Trump referred to them as ‘very fine people.’ It was also the watershed moment that compelled President Biden to come out of retirement and decide that he would run and defeat Trump.

We’re all supremely glad that he did.

But what Donald Trump’s bombastic support for white supremacists masked was a virulent, highly toxic form of antisemitism that has been spreading on the far left for some time. The rabid left’s antisemitism has always been a hallmark of their approach to both US and international politics, but thanks to modern technology’s ability to spread violent ideologies rapidly, it is now becoming a clear and present threat to people of Jewish faith.

The anarchist left’s hatred for Jewish people has always been thinly veiled in what they like to claim is just criticism of the military actions of the state of Israel. Of late, the term ‘anti-zionism’ has gained steam, predominantly because the antisemitic left does not want to be called antisemitic.

According to the Jewish Virtual Library, Zionism is defined as “the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel.” That isn’t a terribly problematic definition, unless of course, one objects to the fact that there ought to be a sovereign Jewish state of Israel at all. That is tantamount to believing that persecuted Jewish people deserve no sovereign homeland, which is an antisemitic belief.

The current ongoing violence in Jerusalem between Israeli police and military forces and Palestinian terrorist group Hamas launching rockets at Israeli civilian installations has only exacerbated the leftist anti-Israeli, antisemitic proclivities. On Tuesday, a group of violent pro-Palestinian agitators beat up a Jewish man in New York, bloodying his face and forcing the police to shelter him.
And in the meantime, people like Susan Sarandon and others are prolongating the myth that Jewish people are “foreigners” to the Middle East and therefore have no right to a homeland. They are now resorting to calling Israel a “settler colony,” a term both inaccurate and laced with xenophobia.

The concept of a settler colony, as one of the proponents of applying the term to Israel describes it, is nearly indistinguishable from the race replacement theory employed by white supremacists. “Settler colonialism,” a tweeted graphic helpfully explains, “is a form of colonialism that seeks to replace the native population of the colonised land with a new society of settlers.”

Note here the reference to the entirety of Israel as a “settler colony,” not simply the Jewish settlements encouraged by right-wing Prime Minister Netanyahu in land that is generally and internationally agreed to as belonging to Palestine. The detractors make no distinction between Israelis living within the internationally recognized border of Israel and those in settlements in Palestinian land.

Although the history of the borders is complicated by two wars between Israel and Arab countries (in 1948 and 1967), by refusing to make a distinction between settlements that may be in violation of international law and those within Israel’s borders, the far left is making it clear that they do not believe in Israel’s right to exist at all, and their beef is not really with the actual settlements. Their beef is with the very existence of the only Jewish state, and thus, with Jewish people.

The rhetoric about “settler colony” is devastatingly, repugnantly, horrifyingly wrong on several levels. It is inaccurate, xenophobic, and violent.

First, it is factually wrong. Judaism is the oldest of the Abrahamic religions - the other two, in chronological order of being spread, are Christianity and Islam - and originated in the Middle East. Historical evidence of ethnic Jews populating a land that is now divided among multiple countries is strong.

What this line of screed is really referring to is the resettlement of the Jewish people in what is now Israel through the internationally recognized Balfour Declaration in the early 1900s and in the aftermath of World War II. The argument of the far left is essentially that since many Jews - who were hunted throughout medieval history - fled their ancient homeland and had settled in other parts of the world where they continued to be persecuted, they’d therefore lost any claim on their ancestral homeland. They are basically arguing a version of finders keepers.

Ironically, this is the exact argument they accuse Israel of using to “steal” Palestinian land.

But much more than being factually inaccurate, the argument is bereft of any moral legitimacy. The “settler colonialism” argument is essentially the same libel that the white supremacist far right goons in the US and across Europe levy against immigrants from other parts of the world, arguing that by settling in the ‘white countries,’ immigrants - specifically, non-white immigrants - are seeking to “replace” the white “native” populations. The far right uses it to justify violence against their target groups, just as the far-left antisemitic fringe appears to be doing against theirs.

This is not an accident. Violence is both a foreseeable and an intended effect of the “settler colonialism” theory.

This is not just standard xenophobia, however. This is a unique form of libel charged specifically at Jewish people. The “settler colonialism” myth is created to promote the idea that Jews - not the state of Israel, Jews - are a permanent, global underclass of outsiders. After all, if an ancestral homeland for the Jewish people did not exist, they would be the unique group of immigrants everywhere on the planet who would be beneath even the insult of “go back to where [they] came from” that is usually used to taunt migrants. This form of violence is specifically directed against Jewish people.

In addition, it is difficult to find a land in the world today - outside of Africa - that wasn’t built in its present form by “settlers pushing out” native populations. The United States is the most glaring example of it, and the settlers in America even called themselves colonists. But European settlers pushed out or massacred native populations across the north and South American continents. European settlers pushed out Australian aboriginals and created the country of Australia.

Lest you think what is now being described by antisemites as “settler colonialism” had previously only been practiced by Europeans, that is not so. Singapore, which was once a part of Malaysia, became a ethnic Chinese-majority country through migration in the 1800s. The Lodi dynasty from Afghanistan and Mughal empire started by an Uzbek brought scores of Muslims into the Indian subcontinent, so much so that large parts of ancient India became Muslim-majority. Those parts of formerly undivided India, which would eventually become Pakistan and Bangladesh, two Muslim-majority countries, incidentally separated from India in the wake of the end of British rule in 1947, around the same time as the founding of the modern state of Israel.

There are plenty of other examples, but there is not enough space to count them all in this short article.

Do the descendants of Chinese migrants in Singapore have no claim to Singapore? Do descendants Muslims of different ethnicities - who created some of the most celebrated accomplishments of India, including the Taj Mahal - that came from outside of the Indian subcontinent to settle in India have no claim to either parts of India or of modern-day Pakistan and Bangladesh? Would anyone referring to Israel derogatorily as a “settler colony” apply that standard to Singapore and India/Pakistan?

I doubt it, and it would be ridiculous to do so.

They also wouldn’t do so, because not only are they wrong about the historical nature of Israel, they actually don’t care about what they call “settler colonialism,” except to use it as a weapon against the state of Israel, and more generally, Jewish people. They are simply not worried about migrants settling in large numbers anywhere other than in the land between the Mediterranean sea and Jordan.

It is this trumped up hatred and fear of “Jewish takeovers” that has been used again and again throughout the history of the world to persecute Jews. The holocaust may be the most well-known of these persecution events, but it was not, by far, the only one. History is plagued with the massacre and persecution of Jews, from western Europe to the Middle East to Russia.

Bottom line, the charge of “settler colonialism” laid against the state of Israel is nothing more than a rhetorical weapon to deny the Jewish people a sense of belonging, and justifying growing threats of violence against them on the theory that they are “replacing” 'natives' in the middle east the same way white supremacists fear being replaced by Jews in America and Europe.

This is the left’s version of “Jews will not replace us.” Plain and simple.

And it must stop.

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