Palestine: best prospect for peace? — Jeff Halper

Israeli Anthropologist Professor Jeff Halper

Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) Public Lecture Series:

‘A Rights-Based Approach to the Israel-Palestine Conflict: The Best Prospect for Peace’

Monday 16 March 2009

6pm – 8pm

Undumbi Room, Level 5

Queensland Parliament House

(entry via Parliamentary Annexe)

Hosted by Evan Moorehead MP

State Member for Waterford

RSVP: Waterford@parliament.qld.gov.au or 3200 3477

AND ‘FROM SECURITY TO OCCUPATION- REFRAMING HOW WE SEE THE ISRAELI-PALESTINE CONFLICT’
GRIFFITH UNIVERSITY
MONDAY 16TH MARCH 1-3PM
Law Building, N61_-2.06, Griffith University (Nathan Campus)

Jeff Halper is an Israeli Professor of Anthropology and the Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), a non-violent Israeli peace and human rights organisation that resists the Israeli Occupation on the ground. He grew up in the US and received his PhD in Cultural and Applied Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee before moving to Israel in 1973. Prof Halper’s academic work focuses on the history of Jerusalem in the modern era, contemporary Israeli culture, nationalism and the Middle East conflict. He is the author of Obstacles to Peace, a resource manual of articles and maps on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, published by ICAHD. His new book, An Israeli in Palestine, on his work against the Occupation, is published by Pluto Press. He was nominated by the American Friends Service Committee for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.
Organised by Just Peace Queensland and Labor 4A Just Palestine
For further information, contact:

Annette 0431 597 256 · David 0413 874 008

3 responses to “Palestine: best prospect for peace? — Jeff Halper

  1. David Albuquerque

    WHY LABOR’S FEDERAL POLICIES WILL HARM ITS FUTURE STATE PROSPECTS

    Mr Kevin Rudd, Ms Julia Gillard, Mr Stephen Smith and Ms Anna Bligh
    Australian Labor Party.

    Dear Labor leaders,

    There is an ill wind blowing Labor’s way that it would be unwise to ignore.

    The good news is that, at this Queensland election, that wind may only be a breeze.

    But, a breeze is a sign – an early sign – of a change in political weather.

    The bad news, for Labor, is that a simmering discontent is gaining momentum in the Muslim community and may affect Labor’s future prospects both at state and federal elections.
    Ethnic communities, unlike mainstream Australians, tend to vote en bloc.

    There is a sense of brotherhood in the Islamic community.
    The injustice meted out by the Labor Government ever since it came to power to Palestinians has spawned a sense of victimhood and betrayal in an otherwise staunchly Labor Muslim community.I refer to the notice taken by imams and other Muslim/Middle Eastern leaders of the Labor Government’s support to Israel and its silence over the massacre of civilians by the Israeli army in Gaza in the course of the Israeli invasion in December 2008-January 2009.

    Even before the invasion, Kevin Rudd, Stephen Smith and Julia Gillard were strangely silent over the life-crippling blockade of Gaza all these years.

    The Australian Government under Rudd has made no demand to Israel to: end the blockade, hand back the occupied territories, dismantle Israel’s illegal settlements and the wall it has built in occupied lands, remove the apartheid policy it has set up in Israel and the occupied territories, stop the demolition and confiscation of Palestinian homes and property respectively, and the kidnappings, torture, collective punishments and targeted assassinations of Palestinians it is carrying out in violation of all UN conventions. The perception of Labor in the Muslim community and Kevin Rudd is of a party and a leader ‘running with the hare and hunting with the hounds’: toasting Israel – as Rudd and Smith did in Parliament – and condemning Hamas while making placatory but insignificant gestures towards the Muslim community.

    That strategy may have worked initially, but has been spotted by Muslims for what it is, and will not pay off in the long run.

    Antony Loewenstein, in his talk at Harvard University , pointed out:

    ‘Australian Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, speaking in March this year at a United Israel Appeal fund-raiser in Melbourne , said he was “a friend of Israel ” and referred to its creation in 1948 as “Australian Labor government handiwork.”

    In the same month, in an unprecedented move in the country’s history, Rudd praised Israel ’s democratic achievements as federal parliament commemorated Israel ’s 60th anniversary and highlighted the need for an independent and economically viable Palestinian state. The majority of parliamentarians supported the motion, but one Labor backbencher dissented.

    Julia Irwin could not “congratulate a nation which commits human rights abuses each day and shows blatant disregard for the UN.”

    ’Please take heed of Ms Julia Irwin’s humanity and leadership, and consider the above information when reviewing your Middle-East policy and approach to Australia’s Muslim voters.

    Yours sincerely
    David Albuquerque
    March 2009

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  2. Khalil's speech of thanks to Prof Jeff Halper

    Khalil’s speech of thanks – March 16, 2009 – Qld parliament house.

    I would like to thank Professor Jeff Halper for travelling to Brisbane to inform people about the grave circumstances of the Palestinians.

    However, we are encouraged to know that he and many other caring people are continuing to do their best for the Palestinians. It takes remarkable courage and tenacity to stand against Zionism and also to rebuild the homes Israel demolishes.

    To some extent I have an understanding of how the children, teenagers and adults feel when they see their homes and possessions destroyed.

    I did not see our home and orchards destroyed but we never saw our home again since the day we were forced to leave.

    Even to this day I can remember as a child of six years old the fear and puzzled feelings I experienced on the day when we were forced by the Hagannah and Stern Zionist terrorist gangs to leave our homes, Orange Orchards, animals and other possessions.

    I can remember vividly the journey from Jaffa to Qalqilia.

    I can remember that my family and other relatives and friends from our village were almost in a state of shock, as we slept the first night in an old Olive Grove.

    I can remember the bombs that exploded just in front of us, as we walked along the road to Nablus looking for shelter.

    I can remember feeling hungry and living in caves, then living in tents.

    I can remember our first winter in Nablus without warm clothes and shoes and living in a tent until the United Nations built concrete block houses in Nablus and allover the West Bank.

    These same concrete block houses still accommodate the Palestinian Refugees from 1948.

    But I also remember the words of my parents and grandparents that “one day we will go back to our homes and villages”.

    Sixty years on and my hope is still alive because my hope is in God Almighty and His justice and mercy and He has brought me safely through many trials and tests.

    The signs are clear that world opinion is changing and many more courageous people are standing against Zionism world-wide.

    After the failure of the Israeli assaults on Lebanon in 2006 and the recent horrendous assault on Gaza, I am of the opinion that we will hear many more voices continuing to speak up for justice for the Palestinians and a just-based peace in the Holy Land.

    Many of you here have heard of the famous saying of Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” and this certainly does not apply to Jeff Halper nor to Edward Said.

    No doubt many of you here have heard about the late, beloved Professor Edward Said, who was a Palestinian refugee living in the United States and was employed by the Columbia University. He was a man of faith and believed in the power of truth and justice; he believed in love and compassion.

    When Edward spoke, we all felt strong. He always inspired and encouraged us. We are encouraged that others are following in his footsteps, dedication, and work so we must be assured that justice will ultimately triumph and the oppressive Israeli occupation will end and Palestinians will be free.

    Someone has said, “The struggle against oppression is not fought on the battlefield of power or truth … There are pitched battles waged on these ramparts, but the war is ultimately won or lost on a more forward front.

    In the end the battle against oppression stands or falls on the battlefield of hope”.

    This is what Edward did and this is what we will do. We will never lose hope or give up the struggle for a just-based peace. We will continue the struggle until a just peace is established.

    I will read some of Edward Said’s words from his lecture entitled – “Speaking Truth to Power” and I have copies for those who are interested to take one.

    “Nothing in my view is more reprehensible than those habits of mind in the intellectual that induce avoidance, that turning away from a difficult and principled position which you know to be the right one, but which you decide not to take. You do not want to appear too political; you are afraid of seeming controversial; you need the approval of a boss or an authority figure; you want to keep a reputation for being balanced, objective, moderate; your hope to be asked back, tv consult, to be on a board or prestigious
    committee, and so to remain within the responsible mainstream; someday you hope to get an honorary degree, a big prize, perhaps even an ambassadorship.

    For an intellectual these habits of mind are corrupting par excellence. If anything can denature, neutralize and finally kill a passionate intellectual life it is the internalisation of such habits.

    Personally I have encountered them in one of the toughest of all contemporary issues, Palestine, where fear of speaking out about one of the greatest injustices in modern history has hobbled, blinkered, muzzled many who know the truth and are in a position to serve it. For despite the mistreatment and vilification that any outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights and self-determination earns for him or herself, the truth deserves to be spoken, represented by an unafraid and compassionate intellectuals”.

    Edwards Said’s words “that the truth indeed deserves to be spoken” resonate to me and to many of us who are here to tonight. I will continue to speak the truth about the injustices and oppression of the Palestinians regardless of the consequences.

    I am assured that justice will ultimately triumph.

    Thank you .

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    • I attended the talk by Prof Jeff Halper. It became evident from the Professor’s speech that the peace movement in Israel has collapsed and that Israeli society has moved sharply to the right. Prof Halper explained the violent acts of young Israeli soldiers by reference to the conditioning of the young people depicted in Kubrick’s film ‘Clockwork Orange’.

      Halper, a leader of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions ICAHD also proposed a strategy to push for change from outside Israel. For example, he wants unions from countries around the Mediterranean sea to sponsor a flotilla of boats to break the siege on Gaza by sea.

      George Galloway’s strategy was to break the siege of Gaza by land, this was successful because of the way it was handled politically and because of the popular support the convoy received as it passed across North Africa.

      In the end, the Egyptian government was forced to allow the convoy to enter Gaza. Perhaps this was a better strategy than the one proposed by Halper, but any positive attempts to break the Israeli siege of Gaza should be supported, I suppose.

      By sea, the boats will have to pass through Israeli minefields as they approach Gaza and will not have the benefit of the support of crowds as happened as the Viva Palestina convoy passed through the countries of southern Europe and north Africa. The other problem with this strategy is that, unlike the Viva Palestina convoy, the ultimate decision to allow entry remains with the Israeli navy which controls the sea beside Gaza. So the breaking of the siege is an appeal to power not the exercise of the popular will as occurred in the Viva Palestina convoy. I do not seek to counterpoise one strategy against another here; but to try to understand the thinking behind these strategies and to thus discover their strengths and weaknesses.

      Halper’s critique of the ‘two state solution’ was thorough and devastating to its proponents here in Australia. So much so that it went unchallenged at the meeting organised by Labor for Palestine and Just Peace. Yet this is the policy of the Australian Labor Party in government. Prof. Halper went to see the Labor foreign minister, Smith, who mandates a ‘2 state solution’ as a condition of aid monies given to Gaza. It was telling to observe that not a single Labor member of parliament, state or federal, was at this well attended meeting.

      Unfortunately, the people in power here are not that much different politically to the people the peace movement has failed to reach inside Israel, I am sorry to say.

      A positive note was the speech given by Khalil in thanks quoted above, it shows the resolve of the Palestinian resistance everywhere.

      Conclusion
      Israel’s assault on Gaza has re-invigorated various campaigns in solidarity with Palestine, the campaign against house demolitions in Palestine is one of them, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel [BDS] campaign is another, they share symbolism as their major weapon. For example the campaign against house demolitions has involved only 160 houses out of tens of thousands, no hundreds of thousands, of Palestinian homes that have been destroyed by Israeli bulldozers and tanks.

      Both ICAHD and BDS are calls for Israel to comply with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights. This is fine if you have all the power as Israel does, but if you are the Palestinians in Gaza or the West bank who have no power, such calls mean little.

      Ian Curr
      March 2009

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