Occupation and colonization are terms that evoke an era of empires and great powers. Once so common, they were eventually replaced by other terms that entered into the global lexicon after the World Wars, such as self-determination and human rights. Yet for two peoples, occupation and settler colonialism – in Wolfe‟s sense of displacing or replacing locals – are not remnants of a time foregone; they remain the reality of everyday life.
1) The Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara draws considerably less attention than the Israeli occupation of
Palestinian territories. However, as this paper will show, these two cases of colonialism over two Arab peoples have much in common.
2) Although a quarter of a century passed between their inceptions, the occupied peoples bear similar scars left by European colonial mishaps: as the British and Spanish stumbled out of their respective territories, the moment was seized by the Zionists and the Moroccans. To maintain their subsequent claims on the territories, the Israelis and the Moroccans violently confronted the native populations, caused protracted refugee situations, and devised the machinery of occupation that would maintain their dominance over the subject peoples. In turn, organic nationalist movements among the Saharawis and the Palestinians have consistently contested the occupations and demanded the right to self-determination. Yet Moroccan and Israeli domination persists, due in part to the support of the United States and the accepted discourses of the international community.
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To cite this article: Khoury, Rana B., „Western Sahara and Palestine: A Comparative Study of
Colonialisms, Occupations, and Nationalisms‟, New Middle Eastern Studies, 1 (2011),
Online Publication Date: 15 June 2011