By Jeff Halper
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Extra resources for An Israeli in Palestine: Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel
Bat Shalom, the Israeli women’s peace organization, Uri Avneri’s Gush Shalom, Rabbis for Human Rights, the Peres Center for Peace, the Council for Peace and Security, an “association of national security experts in Israel,” Yesh Gvul, an organization of reservists who refuse to serve in the Occupied Territories— these are only a few of the peace groups that exist within a Zionist framework. Add to that prominent human rights organizations such as B’tselem and ACRI, the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, plus political parties like Meretz and even parts of the Labor Party, and there are many other Israeli Jews who, like me, could have been in the West Bank protesting our government’s policy of demolishing Palestinian homes—18,000 in the Occupied Territories since 1967.
These punitive forced evictions and house demolitions are a flagrant form of collective punishment and violate a fundamental principle of international law, which stipulates that collective punishment is never permissible under any circumstances. At times it seemed the easiest, most direct, most painful way to simply “get” the Palestinians. Here is the volunteered testimony of reservist Moshe Nissim, a bulldozer driver and self-described “average Israeli,” who spent three “satisfying” days and nights of action as he used his massive D-9 Caterpillar bulldozer to demolish homes in the densely packed Jenin refugee camp at the onset of Operation Defensive Shield, in March 2002.
In 1966, as an undergraduate student at Macalester College in St. Paul, I won a scholarship to study the Falashas, the Jews of Ethiopia. As I was booking my ticket I found out that going through Tel Aviv was as cheap as any other route. So I decided to make a brief stop-over. Landing in Tel Aviv that summer, I found my way to a youth hostel run by an old man named Joseph, who took a liking to me. Soon after I arrived he Halper 01 intro 25 14/12/07 10:16:33 26 A N I S R A ELI I N PA LES T I N E invited me to travel with him to Jerusalem for the day.