The Last Shall be the First: Zionism, Decolonization, and National Liberation


“When history is written as it ought to be written, it is the moderation and long patience of the masses at which men will wonder, not their ferocity.” -CLR James The Black Jacobins

*The bourgeoisie media continues its role of being stenographers for the ruling class, playing the same role as in 2001, they regurgitate wild claims and racist language of the American capitalist class and its imperial outposts in Europe and Israel. However, there can be no mistake, no miscalculation, Israel is a settler-colonial project. Sir Ronald Storrs, first British Governor of Jerusalem called the Zionist mission one of creating, “a little loyal Jewish Ulster” (Cronin 2017). Despite the massive reorganization of the capitalist world-system since Storrs (the death of the British Empire, the Cold War, and American unipolarity) Israel maintains its position as an extension of Euro-American power. Theodor Herzl (1955) expresses this sentiment arguing “we should there [Palestine] form a part of a wall of defense for Europe in Asia, an outpost of civilization against barbarism” (p.254-55).

Ignoring the language of civilization and barbarism that defines colonialism I’d like to examine the colonial project of Zionism further. In 1902, Herzl presents the Zionist political project as “something colonial” in a letter penned to Cecil Rhodes (1960: 1194). The later revisionist Zionists understood their task at hand as part of a historical process: 

It is utterly impossible to obtain the voluntary consent of the Palestine Arabs for converting Palestine from an Arab country into a country with a Jewish majority. My readers have a general idea of the history of colonization in other countries. I suggest they consider all the precedents with which they are acquainted, and see whether there is one solitary instance of any colonization being carried on with the consent of the native population. There is no such precedent… This is equally true of the Arabs. They feel at least the same instinctive, jealous love of Palestine as the old Aztecs felt for ancient Mexico, and the Sioux for their rolling prairies… Every native population in the world resists colonists as long as it has the slightest hope of being able to rid itself of the danger of being colonized. That is what the Arabs of Palestine are doing, and what they will persist in doing as long as there remains a solitary spark of hope that they will be able to prevent the transformation of Palestine into the Land of Israel (Jabotinsky 1923: 2-4). 

It is clear that Zionism is not a radical reinterpretation of the world or decolonial self-determination as some try to erroneously claim. Zionism is the colonial ideology of Euro-America repackaged to protect the interests of the imperialist powers during the hegemonic interregnums. What remains perfectly clear to us as workers, students, and people of color is that the oppressed people of the world have a right to resist and assert their existence. 

The Zionists have presented their political project to us clearly and there can be no hesitation who to side with. Walter Rodney (2019 [1969]) asks us “by what standard of morality can the violence used by a slave to break his chains be considered the same as the violence of a slave master” (p. 16). The colonial world is not one simply of exploitation, it delineates the world between man and beast. It transforms the colonized people from subjects of history to objects of history. The extirpation of Palestinian lands necessitates the ideological extinction of the Palestinian. The State of Israel seeks to classify the Palestinians as a relic of the past therefore erasing their possibility of contributing to the future. Dr. Gish Amit, while conducting research for his PhD, uncovered documents in the Israeli State Archives from 1957 calling for the destruction of 26,000 books that were deemed “unsuitable for use in Arab schools in Israel, [because] some of them contained inciting materials against the State, and therefore their distribution or selling might cause damage to the State” (State Archives). Amit (2008) says: 

This untold story of the fate of Palestinian ‘abandoned’ books clearly demonstrates how occupation and colonization is not limited to the taking over of physical space. Rather, it achieves its fulfillment by occupying cultural space as well, and by turning the cultural artifacts of the victims into ownerless objects with no past. Israel’s collection of Palestinians’ books marks the transformation of a lively and dynamic Palestinian culture into museum artifacts. Thus, Palestinian’ books were placed within the shrine of Israeli libraries, fossilized on the shelves- accessible and at the same time completely lifeless (p. 7). 

It is imperative for the Palestinian people to reconnect that suppressed past to build the future that struggles to be born. This historical erasure is a quotidian violence toward the colonized, it manifests itself in the banning of textbooks, flags and other national symbols, placing other languages in a subaltern position, etc. 

The strategies of the Zionist entity to displace and dispossess Palestinians of their land are not novel. Similar strategies were deployed by the United States in the 1830s; having put up a façade of respecting treaties made with Indigenous nations there was a growing sense of frustration among the American ruling class that the Indigenous people had not yet died off or traded their land. Within this context the American government encouraged land speculators and settlers to cross the Appalachians and seize land as a paramilitary extension of the American government. Settlers, historically and contemporaneously, have never constituted an apolitical civilian role. The settler represents the primary point of struggle, the struggle over land. Fanon (1963) elucidates this point, “for a colonized people the most essential value, because the most concrete, is first and foremost the land: the land which will bring them bread and, above all, dignity” (p. 44). 

The colonial regime originates violence at the first point of contact between the colonist and the native. How can the colonized people be asked to condemn themselves when they fight back against the entity that produces an atmosphere of violence against the spirit, mind, and body. This is the sort of: 

Violence in everyday behavior, violence of the past that is emptied of all substance, violence against the future, for the colonial regime presents itself as necessarily eternal. We see, therefore, that the colonized people, caught in a web of three-dimensional violence, a meeting point of multiple, diverse, repeated, cumulative violences, are soon logically confronted by the problem of ending the colonial regime by any means necessary (Fanon 2018 [1960]: 654). 

We stand with the Palestinian resistance because we carry with us, in our bodies, our souls, our minds, the prints of colonialism. To be marked is to be in eternal solidarity. We cannot be silent. Our siblings in Palestine represent, for us, a struggle of historical proportions, a struggle that carries with it the hopes and dreams of our ancestors that imagined a world turned upside down. The colonial system can’t be undone, it can only be done away with. Assata Shakur (2001 [1987]) affirms this for us, “if I know anything at all,/ it’s that a wall is just a wall/ and nothing more at all./ It can be broken down” (1). 

By Sebastian Mendoza


Amit, Gish. 2008. “Ownerless Objects? The Story of Books Left Behind in 1948.” Jerusalem Quarterly 33: 7-20. 

Cronin, David. 2017. “Winston Churchill Sent the Black and Tans to Palestine.” Irish Times, May 19. Retrieved October 9, 2023 (

Fanon, Frantz. 2018 [1960]. “Why we use Violence.” Pp. 653-659 in Alienation and Freedom, London: Bloomsbury Academic. 

Fanon, Frantz. 1963. The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove Press. 

Herzl, Theodor. 1955. Theodor Herzl: A Portrait for this Age. Cleveland: World Publishing Co. 

Herzl, Theodor. 1960. The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl, New York: Herzl Press and Thomas Yoseloff. 

Jabotinsky, Vladimir. 1923. The Iron Wall. 

Rodney, Walter. 2019 [1969]. Groundings with my Brothers. Verso Books. 

Shakur, Assata. 2001 [1987]. Assata Shakur An Autobiography, Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books. 

State Archives, Jerusalem, GL-1429/5

* Disclaimer: This piece was published as a student’s op-ed submission. The Quindecim is a space for all students within the Goucher community to express their views and beliefs. These pieces are released in the name of journalistic integrity and not in an attempt to antagonize or reflect the institution of Goucher as a whole.

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