On Palestine, Israeli activist brings message of hope

Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan

On Palestine, Israeli activist brings message of hope

 

 

Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan

 

Israeli human rights activist Jeff Halper is on a month-long tour of Canada with a stark message - Palestinians are struggling against overwhelming odds for justice, freedom and human rights. They are suffering but also winning moral support around the world.

 

His message seems contradictory. He said Israel is tightening the screws on Palestinians and yet it is the Palestinians who will win.

 

He stated that Israel not only grabs the land of Palestinians but also subjects them to endless misery. It has destroyed the two-state solution which would allow Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security.

 It arrests Palestinians and makes their life a nightmare through the 600 checkpoints that restrict their movements. It demolishes their homes and bars them from their fields. It does not let them rebuild homes or repair infrastructure. Only a few governments support Israel’s trampling of international law and basic human rights.

 

But Dr. Halper also predicted that the new apartheid of Israel will crumble like its predecessor in South Africa did and that Palestinians will eventually live in peace, freedom and security alongside  Israelis. He stated that if he did not feel sure that justice would prevail, he would have given up long ago. He says the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement will help produce a just result. 

 

During his visit to 12 Canadian cities, Dr. Halper is speaking to churches, Jewish groups, civil society, members of Parliament and academics. His tour is organized by Independent Jewish Voices of Canada and United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel. It has been endorsed by the United Church of Canada, the Anglican Church, United Friends Service Committee (Quakers), the Mennonite Central Committee, Canadian Friends of Sabeel, United Jewish People’s Order and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. In different cities local organizations are co-sponsoring the tour.

 

Dr. Halper was born in Minnesota and emigrated to Israel in 1973. For ten years he helped poor families in Jerusalem. He founded the Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions in 1997 and advocates justice and rights for Israelis and Palestinians.

 

Dr. Halper admits that his organization could not prevent the demolition of thousands of Palestinian homes. But it has brought together Israelis and Palestinians to work together to prevent demolitions, rebuild destroyed homes and seek to end the brutal occupation. He has written three books and in 2006 he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. ICAHD was awarded UN Economic and Social Council Special Consultative Status in 2010.

 

Asked if he will leave Israel if the demolitions and occupation persist he responded: “If the ‘good people’ leave,  then the bad take over. If we lose this battle, if the occupation actually prevails, an entire Palestinian people is permanently imprisoned, human rights and international law trampled and rendered irrelevant and the Jewish people become the new Afrikaners (who imposed apartheid in South Africa). So here I will stand my ground.”

 

He asserted:

 

 Israel has been controlling people, demolishing homes and violating international law for 47 years and yet it poses as a liberal democracy.

 

 The Palestinians and the Arab League accepted the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders. Palestinians agreed to restrict their state to only 22 percent of their country. 

 

 Israel sabotaged the proposal and continuously builds illegal settlements throughout the occupied lands. The settlers are armed and sometimes attack defenseless Palestinians.

 

 Israel has built a separation wall that is twice the height of the Berlin Wall and is five times longer. It’s called the “separation barrier” in Hebrew and its sole purpose is to grab the land of Palestinians.

 

 Since 1948 Israel has demolished 120,000 Palestinian homes and it continues to do so to force Palestinians into tiny bits of land and make their life miserable to force them to leave. Less than half of one percent of these demolitions have anything to with security.

 

 Israel has built a system of apartheid, with discriminating laws and reduced the rights of those who are not Jewish.

 

 Israel has no Constitution and lacks checks and balances to protect human rights and curb the excesses of the executive.

 

 Israeli governments indulge in constant propaganda against terrorism to hoodwink their people and the international community.

 

 Israel uses the occupation as a laboratory to control people and create a system of surveillance, torture and restricted rights. It is exporting these measures to shape other countries’ policies on security, immigration and border control.

 

 Israel uses the occupation to try out deadly weapons. It has become one of the world’s largest arms exporters as a result.

 

 If Jews have the right to return to Israel after 2,000 years, Palestinians who were expelled from their homes 70 years ago have an even stronger right.

 

Dr. Halper stated that though Israel enjoys the backing of the governments of the US, Canada and a few other countries, people the world over, especially youth, particularly Jewish youth, are condemning its policies. He expressed confidence that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement will lead to a Binational Democratic State in Palestine-Israel that will bring justice, security and peace to the Middle East.

 

— Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan is a retired Canadian journalist, civil servant and refugee judge.