AlterPolitics New Post

Jeff Halper Breaks Israeli Left Into 3 Groups And Explains Why Each Is Incapable Of Ending The Occupation

by on Monday, October 8, 2012 at 4:00 pm EDT in Middle East, World

Chris Cox’s piece in openDemocracy is a ‘must-read’ for those who often wonder why the Israeli Left appears impotent in stymieing Israel’s ethnic cleansing policy in the occupied territories. 

To find some answers, Cox turned to 2006 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Jeff Halper, one of the Israeli Left’s most prominent voices.

Halper co-founded the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) in 1997 — an NGO whose volunteers literally risk their lives resisting the occupation. Its members place their bodies between Israeli bulldozers and Palestinian family homes, and when homes and villages are demolished they mobilize to rebuild them. 

Most recently, Halper appeared on RT to discuss a single Palestinian village which had been demolished by Israel 38 times. The village was being registered for consideration in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Unfortunately, the sheer scale of the occupation project is just far too massive for ICAHD to overcome. Israel has successfully demolished around 27,000 Palestinian structures since 1967, effectively cleansing Palestinian families from choice real estate which Israel desires for Jewish-only settlements.

So where is the Israeli Left, and why are they incapable of overturning policies that are reminiscent of those from some of the darkest periods in human history? Halper breaks the group into three “concentric circles,” and addresses why each has largely been ineffective:

Group One: ‘Mainstream Liberal Zionist Left’

[T]ypified by Israeli Labour Party[, t]his camp “fell asleep” after the failure of the Oslo process, says Halper. “They internalized (the then Israeli Prime Minister) Ehud Barak’s declaration that Israel had no partner for peace.” Since then they have been largely silent.

“[They] only woke up again last summer with the protests in Tel Aviv,” says Halper, referring to the domestic Israeli protests for social justice which continued this summer, making international headlines after one man fatally set himself on fire.

Halper criticizes this movement for being solely concerned with “creating an equal situation within Israel”, without looking beyond its borders into the Palestinian territories. “They’ve completely erased the occupation as an issue,” he says. “It’s not finished, it’s not normalized; it’s just non-existent.” […]

Group Two: ‘Activist Zionist Left’

[T]ypified by veteran Israeli NGOs such as Peace Now and Meretz, and more recently joined by groups such as Breaking the Silence, Rabbis for Human Rights and Gush Shalom.

“This group is still active against the occupation. The occupation for them is the issue. They are Zionist, so if there has to be a Jewish state, then there has to be a Palestinian state.” But this, for Halper, is where the problem with this camp lies.

They all support the two state solution. The problem with that, of course, is that it’s gone.” This is a point that Halper has been making for many years now. In 2003, he presented a paper at the UN called ‘One State: Preparing for a Post-Road Map Struggle Against Apartheid’. “So they’re caught. They’re depressed. Because the only solution they can envisage is gone – or, in their terms, going.” Halper pauses, wryly adding: “It’s never gone – it’s always ‘going’.”

“These groups are not going to get too much into the politics, because they can’t go there. So these groups are drifting away, because they can’t deal with the reality.” […]

Group Three:  ‘Non-Zionist, Anti-Zionist, Post-Zionist’ (Halper places his own NGO in this group):

“This group says, forget Zionism: we’re Israelis. We’re not defined by ideology.”

“Because these groups are not Zionist they can think outside the box. They can think in terms of, ‘Okay, so now what?’ They can talk about all kinds of possibilities – one state, bi-national state, a confederation, etc… but for the left groups that are still Zionist, there is no ‘now what?’”

But meanwhile these groups have their own problems, says Halper. “Because it is essentially a collection of activists – pure activists – they have no impact on policy. In my view, you can only be useful if you effect policy – if you have a strategy.”

“These activist groups have no political programme,” he continues. “One week they’re at Sheikh Jarrah [a Palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem whose residents are struggling against eviction and demolitions], then they’re in the south Hebron hills giving food to the Bedouin communities, then the next minute, boom, they’re in Tel Aviv protesting against the government. There’s no strategy.” […]

Halper believes that the Israel Left are virtually incapable, if not largely disinterested, in liberating the Palestinians, and that only outside pressure can succeed in accomplishing this feat. For this reason he is focusing more and more of his energies on unifying the global Left in confronting the occupation.

Halper’s forthcoming book, Global Palestine: Exporting the Occupation, will expand on this theme of internationalizing the conflict.

Watch: What Ethnic Cleansing Looks Like (In Occupied East Jersulem)

by on Monday, November 9, 2009 at 12:55 pm EDT in Middle East, World

Here’s a video of Jewish Settlers literally taking over a Palestinian family’s home in East Jerusalem — dumping the family’s possessions out onto the street, the furniture into their garden — while the Israeli police stand guard in case the Palestinians try to stop the settlers from taking the home for themselves.  Once emptied, the Jews move right inside, and change the locks on the doors.  Unbelievable!

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UPDATE: wrote today of the ongoing demolitions of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem:

“Make sure your father gets this,” the municipal inspector tells a 10-year-old boy at the gate of the concrete house in an alleyway in the al-Bustan quarter of Silwan, a Palestinian neighborhood right under the shadow of the walled Old City.

“This” is a court-approved demolition notice, “No. 59.” It’s for a house under imminent threat of being torn down by the Israeli authorities because it does not have the requisite building permit.

The demolition notice is headed: “To Unknown Addressee.”

“Now they refer to me as ‘Unknown.’ But they know my name very well – they address payment orders for all municipal and other taxes to me by name,” says Moussa Oudeh.

Moussa, father of five, is one of 78 householders in al-Bustan whose homes are slated for demolition. Since the election of a new Israeli mayor exactly a year ago, 10 other houses in al-Bustan have been bulldozed.


The vans park near a new seven-story block of flats. A blue-and-white Israeli banner, with a large Star of David, has been unfurled from the roof down to the alley beneath.  It’s one of several buildings in Silwan where nationalist religious Israelis have settled in recent years in a bid to boost the Jewish presence in the Arab neighborhood.

For some time, it’s been an open secret that the settlers also don’t have the requisite permit for their building.  According to Israeli press reports, after the recent demolition nearby of a small Palestinian home, human rights groups took the matter to the Israeli courts.

A city inspector called to the dock was asked by the magistrate, “How come you didn’t serve a demolition notification on the seven-story building as well?”

“I simply didn’t notice it,” replied the inspector.

The court has yet to take action on the petition against the settlers for their infraction.

How in the world can President Barack Obama — the nation’s first African American President — continue to turn a blind eye to these bigoted policies, and continue to pledge both his allegiance — which he often describes as ‘sacrosanct’ — and billions of dollars in our tax money to this morally bankrupt country?


I found this story via Mondoweiss (as reported in Haaretz) regarding these extremist settlers:

Just weeks after the arrest of alleged Jewish terrorist, Yaakov Teitel, a West Bank rabbi on Monday released a book giving Jews permission to kill Gentiles who threaten Israel.

Rabbi Yitzhak Shapiro, who heads the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in the Yitzhar settlement, wrote in his book “The King’s Torah” that even babies and children can be killed if they pose a threat to the nation.

It is permissable to kill the Righteous among Nations even if they are not responsible for the threatening situation,” he wrote, adding: “If we kill a Gentile who has sinned or has violated one of the seven commandments – because we care about the commandments – there is nothing wrong with the murder.”

Several prominent rabbis, including Rabbi Yithak Ginzburg and Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, have recommended the book to their students and followers.

Unbelievable!  Why isn’t any of this stuff ever reported in our main stream media?  Don’t Americans deserve to know that billions of their tax dollars are subsidizing this scary shit?