Over the previous two months, protest marches in solidarity with the Palestinian individuals have taken place all throughout america and Canada. They’ve attracted a various crowd of individuals, together with many Indigenous nations and communities.
Contributors have denounced “US imperialism” for enabling Israeli aggression, ethnic cleaning and genocide whereas others have charged Israel itself with “settler colonialism”.
Nonetheless, many attendees – particularly pro-Palestinian immigrants – have failed to grasp their very own relationship to settler colonialism. Many people see the US and Canada as secular democracies that present good financial alternatives and never as settler-colonial societies, serving because the blueprint for Israel. Now we have ignored our personal complicity as settlers.
Muslims and South Asian, North African and Arab immigrant settlers should interrogate the legitimacy of America’s and Canada’s proper to exist and the pricey trade-off they make in taking up nationwide identities in these international locations that come on the expense of Indigenous peoples at “residence” and imperialist adventurism overseas.
Settler-colonial historical past ignored
A big variety of migrant Muslims don’t appear to grasp that American societies are animated by white supremacist spiritual doctrines equivalent to manifest destiny and doctrines of discovery and terra nullius, Protestant ethics, frequent legislation property rights, and Victorian notions of gender and sexuality.
Slightly, Muslim “arrivants” to the US ought to contemplate the historical past of settler colonialism within the Americas – a historical past that sees Islamophobia and anti-Indigenous narratives in addition to anti-Blackness and anti-Jewishness inextricably sure.
Within the late fifteenth century, Christopher Columbus’s conquistador invasion of the Americas commenced because the European Crusading eviction, homicide and compelled conversion of Muslims and Jews in Andalusia was coming to an finish.
There, Muslims and Jews had been racially and religiously solid as “enemies”, “savages” and “heathens”, an othering that tinted the lens by means of which Columbus and his successors noticed Indigenous peoples within the Americas, describing them as “blood drinkers”, “cannibals” and “devils”.
As Alan Mikhel writes in his ebook God’s Shadow, Columbus described the weapons utilized by the Indigenous Taíno individuals of the Caribbean as “alfanjes, the Spanish title for the scimitars utilized by Muslim troopers”, whereas Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés recognized 400 Aztec temples in Mexico as “mosques”, described “Aztec girls” as “Moorish girls” and referred to Montezuma, the Aztec chief, as a “sultan”.
Later, within the sixteenth century, because the transatlantic slave commerce bought underneath approach, Africans – 20 to 30 % of whom had been Muslims – would develop into the brand new “infidels” and “savages”.
These weren’t mere insults however Euro-American Christian spiritual and racial narratives of dehumanisation that finally discovered their approach into US spiritual doctrine, legislation and settler attitudes.
They had been used to justify the expropriation of Indigenous land and sources in addition to the enslavement and continued “after-life of slavery” tasks concentrating on Black peoples. Additionally they drove the Islamophobia that in recent times has resulted in Muslim bans, unmitigated US authorities help for Zionist settler colonialism in addition to the demise and destruction wrought as a part of the “battle on terror”.
Slightly than query the US settler-colonial mission root and department, Muslim immigrants have taken it with no consideration and tried to entrench themselves as “good liberal settlers”, eliding their very own settler-colonial complicities, even after they have come from international locations ravaged by the results of imperialist US overseas coverage.
This love for the delusional promise of the “American dream” runs counter to what the selectively quoted anti-American Muslim Malcolm X, referred to as an “American nightmare” and exists regardless of a surge in recent times of Indigenous activism in addition to an enormous physique of scholarship in Indigenous, Palestinian and comparative settler-colonial research.
This activism and work assist us perceive that the US’s imperial commitments overseas are knowledgeable by the violence it has wreaked in opposition to Black peoples and Indigenous peoples in North America – or what the latter discuss with as Turtle Island.
As Eve Tuck, professor of vital race and Indigenous research on the College of Toronto, and Ok Wayne Yang, professor of ethnic research on the College of California, San Diego, wrote in a paper titled Decolonization shouldn’t be a Metaphor: “Oil is the motor and motive for battle and so was salt, so might be water. Settler sovereignty over the very items of earth, air, and water is what makes doable these imperialisms. … ‘Indian Nation’ was/is the time period utilized in Viet Nam, Afghanistan, Iraq by the U.S. navy for ‘enemy territory’.”
A working example is the Iraq battle. Critics and a few US officials had been adamant that the battle – spearheaded by Vice President Dick Cheney, a former CEO of oil big Halliburton – was meant to learn large oil. Nonetheless, it was missed that US fighter jets, cruise missiles and armoured automobiles couldn’t have descended on Iraq in 2003 with out the gas derived from plentiful oil provides tapped from Indigenous lands, which at the moment makes the US the world’s largest oil producer and, by far, the biggest polluter.
Indigenous-led NoDAPL protests in 2016 in opposition to the Dakota Entry Pipeline, which was set to run near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation had been a missed alternative for Muslim and pro-Palestinian activists to centre and draw deeper connections between settler colonialism at residence and overseas.
One other blatant occasion of the connection between settler colonialism at residence and overseas is at Cornell College, the Ivy League establishment the place I used to be a visiting scholar final 12 months and which has additionally been a hub of pro-Palestinian activism in latest weeks.
Set among the many bucolic countryside of upstate New York and flush with waterfalls, gorges and evergreens, Cornell is considered the biggest college land grab in US historical past and the one largest beneficiary of the 1862 Morrill Act, which noticed 10.7 million acres (4.3 million hectares) stolen from 250 completely different Indigenous peoples in 15 states and handed over to universities.
On this, Cornell accrues advantages from the principal income and capital of the land in addition to floor extraction rights involving minerals, sources, mining and water. Cornell College can be partnered with Technion-Israel Institute of Know-how, based in 1912, whose navy analysis and growth labs have pioneered the applied sciences of Palestinian dispossession.
Muslims’ particular duty
Understanding our funding in settler colonialism ought to push us to oppose it in full. This goes additional than pickets, teach-ins, Boycott-Divestment-Sanction (BDS) campaigns, blockading arms producers premised on short-term disaster administration, or the performative land acknowledgments which have develop into customary at land-grab universities like Cornell.
It means transformational solidarity, a long-term course of grounded in shared non secular, moral and political commitments that demand a change of all our relationships, together with to the native, historic and materials geographies of the land we’re located on.
As Palestinian scholar Dana Olwan wrote in an article titled On Assumptive Solidarities in Comparative Settler Colonialisms, incidents through which “Indigenous activists are invited to offer opening ceremonies for pro-Palestinian occasions” are many and are sometimes animated by the shortage of a deeper interrogation and difficult of the “Canadian and United States settler coloniality and thus normalize the violence of such states”.
This kind of transformational solidarity shouldn’t be new. For instance, it has been customary in Chile, a rustic with the biggest Palestinian inhabitants outdoors the Center East, for Palestinians to march in solidarity with the Indigenous Mapuche individuals on the annual Indigenous Individuals’s Day parade and work on the land with them.
Whereas these solidarity strains do happen within the US on the degree of mobilisation, they’re inconsistent on the degree of organisation. Land acknowledgments are about intent, goal and above all – motion.
As Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael), the non secular pan-African revolutionary, put it: “What mobilisation does is, it mobilises individuals round points. [But] these of us who’re revolutionary aren’t involved with points. We’re involved with the system. … Mobilisation normally results in reform motion, to not revolutionary motion.”
As I write in my ebook Islam and Anarchism: Relationships and Resonances, Muslim immigrant settlers bear a specific duty to behave not solely due to the geopolitical context of Islamophobia and Islam as a quintessential different relative to a Euro-American Christianity but additionally arguably due to Islam’s founding upon, and relationship to, social justice.
Aligned appropriately and as a quintessential signifier in whose world Orientalist shadow others are solid – as with NoDAPL Indigenous water protectors, who had been compared by US mercenary companies like TigerSwan to “jihadi actions”, and Black Lives Matter activists, who had been designated by the FBI as “Black identification extremists” – Islam and Muslims are ideally positioned to geopolitically demystify the intimate intersections between imperialism and “settler colonialism” in Palestine and Turtle Island.
By reneging on this duty, significantly these of us who establish as immigrant South Asian and North African Muslims, we develop into Zionists on stolen land whereas we concurrently expose our hypocritical fantasies of releasing Palestine – and ourselves.
That’s the reason we immigrants within the US and Canada should critically re-examine our ethical-political commitments in the case of supporting Palestine, founding an abolitionist and decolonial Islam and forming alliances with Indigenous and Black peoples of their calls for for Indigenous land rematriation in addition to Black reparations. We have to transfer past reactionary paradigms of “survival” and “resistance” in the direction of pro-active strategic motion targets that centre our collective livingness, thriving and liberation. Palestine’s releasing is concurrently entwined with the releasing of Indigenous and Black individuals in Turtle Island. To finish Palestinian occupation, the bewitched American/Canadian false dream should fall and get replaced by a genuinely decolonial enchanting else.
The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.