I read Mamdani's piece and found it very interesting. A part of the problem is the impact of the reformation on the original settler projects in South Africa and the USA - relgious non-comformist Christians fleeing persecution. For the Jews, they were not religious non-conformists - they were a evidence of a religious phenomenon which pre-dated Christianity and out of which Christianity had emerged and, just as important, were perceived by both Protestants and Catholics as unassimilable - they were not simply heretics who could be marginalized or exiled - they constituted a fundamental challenge to the presumed universalism of Christianity.

The contemporary situation is that Israel allows the Americans to escape/validate their history - the Israeli right's effort to create new facts on the ground - a Palestinian Bantustan - fits within the logic of the American treatment of Native Americans - install them in reservations and loot their lands in the name of national development. Since the Israelis are doing what 'we' have accomplished in our national experience, it can be universalized and no one can criticize us for what we have done That was also part of the logic of American support for apartheid.

I would also speculate that one of the hidden objectives in the invasion of Iraq was to stabilize the country under a pro-American government, establish relations with Israel, and encourage the 'departure' of Palestinians to Iraq in an effort to facilitate the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories in perpetuity. In that context, they would assume that the practices of Ottoman imperial rule could be replicated and fit within the "traditions" of the Islamic world. If "traditional Islamic practices" could be legitimized in the contemporary period, then the Arabs would returm to being the "pliant natives" that they need to be in order to benefit from democracy - they could be taught to be good Muslims and learn to separate religion from politics - just like the American evangelical movement!

 Cary Fraser,  associate professor of African and African American studies and history at Penn State, and specializes in Caribbean, African American, and American Diplomatic History as well as the History of International Relations since 1870 on which he has published widely.