Native vs. Settler: Ethnic Conflict in Israel/Palestine, Northern Ireland, and South Africa

Native vs. Settler: Ethnic Conflict in Israel/Palestine, Northern Ireland, and South Africa

Native vs. Settler: Ethnic Conflict in Israel/Palestine, Northern Ireland, and South Africa

Native vs. Settler: Ethnic Conflict in Israel/Palestine, Northern Ireland, and South Africa

Synopsis

Settler-native conflicts in Northern Ireland, Israel/Palestine, and South Africa serve as excellent comparative cases as three areas linked to Britain where insurgencies occurred during roughly the same period. Important factors considered are settler parties, settler mythology, the role of native fighters, settler terror, the role of liberal parties, and the conduct of the war by security forces. Settlers and natives in each area share similar attitudes, liberal parties operate in similar fashions, and there are common explanations for the formation of splinter liberation groups. However, according to Mitchell, the key difference between the cases lies in the behavior of British security forces in comparison to South African and Israeli forces.

Excerpt

Most academic observers are in agreement with sociologist Steve Bruce, who specializes in evangelical Protestantism, when he writes: "It seems very clear to me that Ulster Protestants form an ethnic group and that the Northern Ireland conflict is an ethnic conflict." Yet not all see it as an ethnic conflict between Irish Catholics and Ulster (British) Protestants. The Irish republican tradition sees the conflict as being one between Ireland and Britain, a colonial conflict that continues from the Irish War of Independence of 1919-21. Which is correct?

I would argue that both are correct as the Northern Ireland conflict falls into that subset of ethnic conflict known as settler conflict. Settler conflicts are conflicts with their origin in the conflict between a settler population, which was part of a colonization effort, and a native population, which was resisting the colonizing enterprise. Such conflicts were common in the Western Hemisphere from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries, in Africa in the second half of the twentieth century, in Ireland in the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, and in Palestine in the twentieth century. Both elements, the ethnic and the colonial, have relevance for the Northern Irish conflict.

The conflict endures because the settlers assimilated enough into the colony to consider themselves as natives, but they were different from the original natives, or at least belonged there rather than in the colonial metropole, however, not so much that they are now accepted by the natives as indigenous--at least not on the settlers' terms. The conflict also endures because the settlers have either not attempted to or have been unsuccessful in exterminating the native population as occurred in the Americas, Australia, and the Western Cape of South Africa.

The heart of a settler conflict is usually the land issue: the question of which . . .

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