“Colonialism of a special type”

The third unusual point is that we are a liberation movement that midway through its struggle turned itself into an independence movement, for national independence. For a long time we were conducting a struggle on two fronts in two modes. One. we were saying we were liberation, Palestine LiberationOrganization,whichmeanstheliberation of Palestine. It’s still called PLO. On the other hand, we were an independence movement, because we wanted national sovereignty and independence on a part of Palestine. So it’s very complicated, because, finally, we are also a liberation, decolonizing move¬ ment with no sovereignty at all. All of the other movements had sovereignty. This is a unique colonialism that we’ve been subjected to where they have no use for us. The best Palestinian for them is either dead or gone. It’s not that they want to exploit us, or that they need to keep us there in the way in Algeria or South Africa as a subclass. They do that in the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinians are building the houses for the people who are dispossessing them, the settlements. But there’s no view, nor is there except amongst a few individuals, any idea of what to do with the Palestinians as human beings who are there.

The South African historian Colin Bundy is the author of a theory to deal with the problem of South Africa. He calls it “colonialism of a special type,” CST in South Africa. Because you have a native white class, not settlers. But it would apply equally to Palestinians, except I think you’d have to call it “colonialism of an even more special type.” It’s a tremendous burden.


The Pen and the Sword

Edward Said

Conversations with David Barsamian


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