“The creation of Israel has been a settler colonial project since 1917”, Rashid Khalidi tells University of Waterloo crowd

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Professor Rashid Khalidi of Columbia University was the invited guest speaker at the first lecture organized by the Foundation for Palestinian Studies Fund of the University of Waterloo. He developed his argument that the creation of the State of Israel was a European colonial project aimed at transforming the land of Palestine into the land of Israel. Read more and watch the YouTube video of his presentation.

“The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine”, is the provocative title of Rashid Khalidi’s latest book. In a recent lecture to a University of Waterloo audience, estimated at 650 people in person and online, including many faculty members and the former President of the University, Professor Khalidi said his objective in writing the book was to puncture what he thinks are three common misunderstandings of the Israel/Palestine conflict. According to Professor Khalidi:

  1. This is NOT an age old emnity between Jews and Muslims, or between Jews and Arabs. “That view is totally false,” he argued. “It is entirely related to the rise of anti-semitism in Europe and the expansion of European powers into the middle east at the beginning of the twentieth century.”
  2. This is NOT a conflict between two warring states – like France and Germany for example. “Instead, it is a struggle between one people who wants to take over the land of another, and transform it into something new, while putting the other people under occupation.”
  3. This is NOT only a conflict between Jews and Arabs, or Israelis and Palestinians, but a colonial project backed by a foreign power meeting resistance from the indigenous population. “The Palestinians have always faced Israel backed by Israel’s great power supporters – first Britain, then Britain and France, and now today the USA.”

A colonial enterprise?

The claim that Israel is a “colonial” enterprise is of course denied by Israel and hotly contested by most Canadian Jews. However, in his presentation, Professor Khalidi referred to early Zionist documents which unabashedly described their movement as a “colonial” venture. That only changed after the Second World War, he argued, when imperialism was no longer in fashion and “colonialism” became a bad word.

The early Zionists, he claimed, knew that they would face resistance from the Palestinians as the European Zionists started to take over their land.

He referred to the writings of Zeev Jabotinski, one of the ideological founders of Zionism, whose 1923 essay “The Iron Wall”, explained that There can be no voluntary agreement between ourselves and the Palestine Arabs, (…) 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. (…) Native populations, civilised or uncivilised, have always stubbornly resisted the colonists, irrespective of whether they were civilised or savage.

Watch Dr. Khalidi’s presentation here.

The Palestine Studies Fund was launched by the Faculty of Arts at the University of Waterloo in May 2022. It is Canada’s first educational institute focussed on the study of Palestine.

In addition to the annual public lecture (of which Professor Khalildi’s was the first), the Foundation has three other types of activity.

  • Subsidized international study experiences that will change the lives and open the minds of our students through travel to the Palestine-Israel region.
  • Research awards for faculty and graduate students aimed at deepening understanding
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship Awards to attract and support rising stars of Palestinian studies or those whose research intersects with Palestinian Studies

Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.

Want to learn more about us? Go to http://www.ottawaforumip.org


  1. Glad that focus, energy and time will be utilised in important studies such as this struggle for Justice, Peace and Unity.

    It’s good v evil, belonging v occupation, self-determination v colonialism, justice v oppression and human rights v apartheid… NOT about religion.

    Hopefully more people will wake up and be on the right side of Justice.

  2. An excellent take on the politics of the creation of the criminal state of Israel. It is an education for many people.

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