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Home arrow Blog arrow September 2007 arrow September 1, 2007

September 1, 2007
WAWA Blog  September 1, 2007

My favorite secular Jewish prophet wrote...



Right of Reply: There's no correct way to be pro-Israel


JEFF HALPER , THE JERUSALEM POST
 Aug. 28, 2007
 



A funny thing happened to me on my way from Tel Aviv to New York a couple months ago. I was sitting in my aisle seat reading a book, when all of a sudden I became aware of the tall figure of a man looming over me.

I looked up and saw a guy with a mustache and kippa whom I had never met before.

"I am Gerald Steinberg," he trumpeted. "I am the person who will put you out of business."

Then he abruptly lurched off. But he apparently had one more thought he wanted to share with me. Suddenly he turned around, pointed at me and bellowed: "You are a Jewish anti-Semite!"

Now accosting me in the street is one thing, but accusing me of anti-Semitism in a voice everyone could hear on a planeload of Jewish passengers was virtual incitement to a lynching. Fortunately, my fellow passengers had their seat-belts on, and the incident passed peacefully.

Later, in the passport line at Kennedy, we passed each other. "Why don't we get a cup of coffee sometime and talk?" I offered.

"You're not important enough," he snapped back as he disappeared into the Goldene Medine.

THE ACCOSTING has now moved to the pages of The Jerusalem Post ("Europe to host NGO attack on Israel," August 23) where, not for the first time, Steinberg refers to me as, in general, anti-Israel - although here I only "appear" with anti-Semites.

All this is silly stuff, of course. But the kind of rhetoric Steinberg employs is significant because it is often used by self-proclaimed "pro-Israel" advocates to obfuscate the very important debate that must take place if we are to overcome conflict and usher Israel into the state of peace, security and reconciliation most Israelis seem to desire.

In his article, Steinberg employs epithets, simplistic and accusatory terms as if they were "objective," the very technique of "radical propaganda" of which he accuses me and others.

In the Brussels meetings - to which I wasn't invited, despite Steinberg's insinuation that I was - he refers to "radical" Palestinian NGOs (whatever that means); "anti-Israel" NGOs (including a number of Israeli ones), "radicals" in general (although as an old '60s person that doesn't sound bad to me), "liberation theology" (apparently a bad thing in Steinberg's world), "anti-Semitic themes," and so on.

THE UNSPOKEN and misleading assumption underlying all this is that there exists a normal, acceptable, correct "pro-Israel" position from which no one should be permitted to deviate. And I'll bet that position conforms precisely to Steinberg's.

There is no such position, of course. Twenty years ago, to support a two-state solution - which Steinberg today touts as the epitome of being "pro-Israel" - would have gotten you thrown out of town. Things change, but they cannot change for the better if open, honest and occasionally heated debate is not allowed.

Steinberg urges that the UN/European Parliament meeting in support of Israeli-Palestinian peace be cancelled. This seems to contradict the motto on the banner of his own NGO Monitor: "Promoting critical debate" on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Promoting civil debate would be enough.

The writer is the Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). He was a nominee for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.



Jeff Halper also said:


"Israel is a not a democracy but is an Ethnocracy, meaning a country run and controlled by a national group with some democratic elements but set up with Jews in control and structured to keep them in control.

"It is apartheid and Bush and Hillary are both willing collaborators."[1]

During one of my three interviews with Jeff at his ICAHD office on Ben Yehuda  Street, West Jerusalem, he informed this reporter that the reason he moved to Israel from Hibbing, Minnesota in 1973 was because there was something about Israel that spoke to him, and why in 1997, he founded ICAHD:

"It was at the time when the Oslo peace plan collapsed and the occupation reasserted itself. Many Israeli peace activists began asking Palestinians what the best way to engage with each other was and the answer was blowing in the wind: ‘STOP the home demolitions!’[2]

In the 40 years of occupation, 18,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished.

Jeff informed this reporter that,

"95% of the cases have nothing to do with security. All these homes are on Palestinian private property. The Israeli government will not grant permits for them to build on their own land, and in reality are quietly transferring the Palestinians administratively from the land. They make conditions so intolerable that the Palestinians give up and leave and this is exactly what they are after. Not only do the Palestinians receive no warning when their homes are to be destroyed they are fined $1, 500.00!

"I'll get a call at 5 AM from a Palestinian telling me the bulldozers have arrived and we activists go out and engage in civil disobedience by standing up to the bulldozers. We also raise funds to rebuild these homes right where they had been before. The reasons for the demolitions are: for The Wall, to establish illegal settlements, build roads and because the Israeli government wants to keep Palestinians confined to the islands [areas A and B] in the West Bank, and so Palestinian land remain under the control of the Israeli government." [3]

Jeff can no longer count how many times he had been arrested and sentenced to community service. His eyes sparkled as he told me,

"When I tell the judge I am serving the community they just don't get it! The Israeli government simply does not want to take responsibility and the USA government ignores the situation. Do you know why Israel does not want to become America's 51st state? Because then they would only have two senators!

"Israel has no constitution but has a Declaration of Independence which promised that Israel would abide by conditions and UN resolutions. They have not fulfilled the agreement which was the basis of their independence...One out of three Israeli children lives below the poverty line. It's probably about 80% for Palestinians. Jews are like everyone else, those who have been abused grow up to be abusers. Things here have been turned on their head: its victim mentality and denial about the occupation. Once Israelis accept the fact that they are occupiers they will have to admit their State Terrorism.

"Prior to 1948, 70% of West Jerusalem was Palestinian. From '48 to '67, Jerusalem was divided into Israeli West Jerusalem and Palestinian East under Jordan's control. When Israel captured and occupied the West Bank in 1967, the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem were also redefined. Israel annexed the greater Jerusalem area but did not 'adopt' the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem as Israeli citizens." [4]

Today, Palestinians living in Jerusalem are classified differently from those in the West Bank. They are called permanent residents, they can vote in local elections but not in Israeli national elections. Most do not bother to vote as a statement against the occupation.

According to Halper, West Jerusalem is now nearly 100% Jewish. The Palestinians in East Jerusalem pay the same taxes as those on the West side, but receive only 8% of the total municipal budget. Orthodox Jews pay no taxes. Palestinians make up 1/3 of the total Jerusalem population, but pay over 40% of the taxes.

One is immediately aware when one walks from the East to the West that one is truly in two different worlds. On the West side of town there are many parks, the roads and streets are well maintained and sanitation pick up is predictable. Twenty-six of the thirty-one City Council members of Jerusalem are Orthodox Jews. The East side of Jerusalem is more like the lower east side of New York.

While the Israeli government considers Jerusalem the capitol of Israel no foreign country does. There are no international embassies in Jerusalem, except for the fundamentalist International Christian Zionist one, which espouses an inherently anti-Semitic theology and neo-con political ideology.

On March 17, 2006, the 7th day of my third journey to Israel Palestine, Jeff Halper, greeted my group of nearly one hundred Internationals attending a Sabeel [Arabic for THE WAY] reality tour through the West Bank, in the East Jerusalem YMCA conference room with,

"I don't want to depress you too much but the issue of the occupation is a global issue that transcends boundaries and Israel Palestine impacts all global realities...We have a country created by the UN and supported by the USA that has a brutal occupation while International Law defines occupation as a temporary situation.

"The USA is complicit in starving the Palestinians and it is going to get worse. We have a situation in which America and Israeli actions are illegal. Three weeks ago in the USA the Pentagon issued the QDR: Quadrennial Defense Review which is a twenty year plan to contain China and commit to a long war with the Islamic Empire. The USA sees Iran as the center of its war against Islam and wants to make the entire world safe for the USA and wants to contain any power who will rise and challenge America...The USA will shield itself so it can continue to extract 35% of the earths resources. The American lifestyle is not sustainable.

"When you incorporate occupied territories, highways, settlements and use resources it is all illegal according to the Fourth Geneva Convention which states the status quo must be retained so that negotiations can happen. Unilateral actions are illegal. The occupying power is responsible for those under its control.

"Tony Blair said 70% of all the conflicts in the world can be traced back to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. What gives us hope is that as this conflict worsens maybe Europe will figure out that American policies are against their interests and intervene...This conflict impacts the global community and especially everyone in the USA.

"If we do fix this conflict it would be a tremendous step forward in global reconciliation...This whole issue is based on Human Rights and it is a global issue requiring global intervention. ...Israel is not a democracy, it is an ethnocracy: full rights to Jews, but not Palestinians." [5]
There are currently forty-two illegal settlements in the Muslim, Christian and Armenian quarters of Jerusalem. The only green area for children to play will soon have a high rise for the settlers which will be 7 meters taller than the walls of the Old City.

Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, Action Advocacy Officer for Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions informed this reporter,

"Out of site of most Israelis is the Hebronization of east Jerusalem. The Wall has been deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice but America continues to allow it to grow. The wall is way over the Green Line proving it is not about security but about grabbing Palestinian land. Israel's policy of Quiet Transfer: getting rid of the Palestinians is a huge humanitarian crisis.

"There is an advertisement that runs in the USA that reads: "Have a Holiday Home in Jerusalem." The ad does not mention this home is 100% ILLEGAL! It is clear how the wall zig zags that it is not about security but about grabbing the maximum land with minimal Palestinian occupation. The settlers have taken over the Holy Basin." [6]

When I returned to Israel Palestine in October 2006, during an ICAHD tour Jeff acknowledged,

"It has been said that the Israeli's do not love this land, they just want to possess it. There have been three stages to make this occupation permanent. The first was to establish the facts on the ground; the settlements. There are ˝ million Israeli's and four million Palestinians here. They have been forced into Bantustan; truncated mini states; prison states. It is apartheid and Bush and Hillary are both willing collaborators."[7]


On June 1, 2007, I received an email from Jeff, from which I excerpt:

The very first act of the Israeli Occupation in 1967 was home demolitions.

On June 11th, as the Six Day War was drawing to its close, more than 135 Palestinian families in the historic Muslim Mughrabi Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City – the vast majority refugees from 1948 – were roused from their beds in the dead of night to watch in horror as Israeli bulldozers summarily destroyed their homes and the quarter's two mosques, all in order to create an open plaza in front of the Western (Wailing) Wall. It was an operation that had nothing to do with either the war or security, but to create the first of thousands of "facts on the ground" intended to make Israel's control of the Occupied Territories permanent.

This June 11th, ICAHD will return to this site where the Occupation began in order to announce its rebuilding campaign...With funding coming mainly from Jewish donors appalled by the Israeli governments house demolition policy, ICAHD is able to mount this major challenge to the legality, morality and even self-interest of the monstrosity that is the Israeli Occupation. This represents a timely and appropriate intensification of ICAHD's ten year struggle against the Occupation and its most cruel expression, the demolition of Palestinian homes – 18,000 since 1967.

Together we can cause the unjust structure of Occupation to collapse, thereby releasing the Israeli and Palestinian peoples to find a just and sustainable resolution to their more than century-old conflict – and the world as a whole to move on to address the grievances of the wider Middle East, thus bringing a measure of hope, stability and reconciliation.

In Solidarity,

Jeff Halper (ICAHD Coordinator) and Lucia Pizarro (International Coordinator)
Israel Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
PO Box Jerusalem , Israel
http://www.icahd.org







Sources:

1-7: EYE WITNESS Reporting documented in, Memoirs of a Nice Irish-American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory, by Eileen Fleming



 
   
 
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