He Claims Nation Is Hurting Self With Its Policies
SAMARA KALK DERBY, The Capital Times, October 8, 2007
Israeli human rights activist and author Jeff Halper argues that in the Israel-Palestine conflict, the two-state solution is dead, and apartheid has taken over.
Jimmy Carter let the genie out of the bottle with his recent book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” but Halper has been using the same language for years.
“We use apartheid in a very precise way. We don’t use it as a slogan. We have been very careful about it. Apartheid is a system that can’t be exported,” Halper told a group of about 40 people during a talk Sunday at Memorial United Church of Christ in Fitchburg.
An apartheid system is one of separation in which one segment of the population separates itself from the others, Halper said. “And that’s what Israel calls its policy,” he added.
The other element of apartheid is domination, he explained. “One population separates itself from the others and then dominate them,” he said. “Permanently and institutionally.”
Israel’s offer to withdraw from 95 percent of the West Bank will create not peace, but rather a Palestinian prison state, said Halper, who has been called “a Jewish anti-Semite.”
Halper is a Minnesota native who has lived in Israel for 35 years. Formerly an anthropology professor at Haifa and Ben-Gurion Universities, he co-founded the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions to challenge and resist the Israeli policy of demolishing Palestinian homes. The organization was founded in 1997 after Benjamin Netanyahu became prime minister on a right wing, security-heavy platform.
Israelis have been moving into the occupied Palestinian territories – which includes the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem – through settlement construction and land confiscation. At the same time, Palestinian population growth has been confined to small “islands” within those territories.
The natural development of Palestinian towns has been curtailed by discrimination in building permits and zoning policies and the demolition of Palestinian homes, Halper said.
According to Halper, Israel has destroyed more than 18,000 Palestinian homes since 1967.
Halper has organized and led nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience against Israel’s occupation policies. He has faced down bulldozers in front of Palestinian homes and confronted Israeli soldiers. He also organizes Israelis, Palestinians, and others to help rebuild demolished Palestinian homes. He estimates that they’ve built more than 100 homes in the last 10 years.
In addition to opposing home demolitions, Halper is equally critical of Israel’s construction of the 26-foot tall West Bank separation barrier, which is more than twice as high as the Berlin Wall and five times as long. The Israeli government and its supporters say the wall has reduced terrorism. Critics charge it is laying the groundwork for a unilateral border.
In the past 40 years, Israel has laid a “Matrix of Control” over the occupied territories, including 300 settlements, which eliminates the possibility of a viable Palestinian state, Halper said.