Sunday, October 26, 2008

The hatred that so-called progressive intellectuals have of Israel and Zionism truly knows no bounds. A good example can be seen in this review of a book called "Healing the Land and the Nation: Malaria and the Zionist Project in Palestine, 1920-1947" by Sondra M. Sufian.

It is hard to know how much bias is from the author and how much from the reviewer, but the thesis of the book is, as the article states:
The Zionists imported European and U.S. medical technologies and foreign capital to restore the land to what was in their eyes its original state, with little concern for those who had long made their living from it. The Zionist settlers had no sense of the national rights of the Palestinian Arabs, who they believed had no real attachment to the land. Like European settlers elsewhere, the Zionists considered the indigenous population primitive and backward. The land was a swampy wasteland inhabited by an unproductive people. In this, the Zionists were merely drawing upon racial views of non-European, indigenous populations then prevalent among colonialists. As Sufian points out, Zionists, like other Europeans, saw malaria not as an environmental problem, but one caused by the neglectful, indifferent, and lazy lifestyles of the natives, whose watering holes and leaky irrigation ditches were ideal places for mosquitoes to breed. The Zionists' goal was to drain the swamps and pools of water to eradicate the disease, thereby expanding the land available for settlement and agricultural production. As the author notes, in many parts of world European settlers made this connection between disease eradication, immigration, and settlement. When the Zionists drained the swamps they also reduced the pasture land long used by Bedouins and other Arab agriculturalists for grazing their livestock. Despite stiff resistance, land formerly held collectively by Palestinian Arabs became private land owned by Zionist settlers.
Get it? By working to eradicate a deadly disease, the Zionists exhibited unbelievable selfishness and displacement! How dare they try to improve the land that they were buying at hugely inflated prices! How dare they try to improve the health of the natives - this is the very definition of self-absorption!

An interesting contradiction then comes up:
Sufian also illuminates other contentious aspects of the malaria eradication process. For example, she documents Arab participation in and contributions to such efforts, contradicting the Jewish Agency's claims that the great majority of the eradication schemes were carried out solely at that organization's expense. Much of this is illustrated through the work of Dr. Tawfiq Canaan, a Palestinian Arab and prominent physician before and during the Mandate era, who lectured about malaria in German and English to scientific audiences. In a report to the Mandatory authorities, he stated that Palestinian Arabs had done their share of the eradication work. They had carried out swamp drainage projects and worked as laborers in government malaria control measures.
Apparently, when Arabs drained the swamps it was because they were forward-thinking and modern, but when Jews drained the swamps it was because they were colonialist pigs hell-bent on turning mosquito-infested cesspools of disease into productive farmland. Arab swamp draining improved the lives of the natives, Zionist swamp draining destroyed them.

Clear as day!

You can file this in the same category of recent quasi-scholarly drivel that claims that the lack of Arabs raped by IDF soldiers indicates the Jews' barbarity or that Israeli archaeologists are unprofessional hacks who only work to advance the evil Zionist enterprise.

UPDATE: Commenter Womble points to a great blog post by Imshin that takes a quite different tack on the "colonialism" of draining swamps and fighting a horrendous disease.

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