No Olive Branch: (De)Colonising Food Systems in Occupied Palestine

Fé Versteeg

HUM309: Postcolonial Theory

Word Count: 3298


This paper analyses the attacks on Palestinian food systems within the framework of (post)colonial discourse, to evidence the claim that the Zionist project is at its core a settler colonial project–a claim which has become prevalent in both academic and popular discourse. It contends that as settler colonialism involves the “elimination of the native”, destroying the means for subsistence necessarily becomes a means towards completing a colonial project. Indeed, Palestinian food systems have been widely targeted by historical and contemporary agents of the Zionist project. Further, it argues that food production is in settler colonialism not only weaponized because of its material significance to indigenous communities, but also for its symbolic significance: the transformation of food landscapes allows colonisers to reset the “national clock” and forge indigeneity on colonised lands. In the case of Palestine, this manifests itself in the uprooting of olive trees and the plantation of pine trees by the Israeli government, independent Zionist settlers and the Jewish National Fund, which has transformed Palestinian land into a European-looking landscape. Finally, using Cabral’s definition of culture, the paper argues food production can also be a site of anticolonial resistance, which is reflected in both the continued plantation of olive trees and the reestablishment of “food sovereignty” in occupied Palestinian territories.