God's Politics

God's Politics


Jeff Halper: Moral Blindness

posted by God's Politics

Israeli peace activist Jeff Halper continues his dialogue with Virtual Talmud bloggers, this time responding to Rabbi Susan Grossman’s post titled, “Israel’s Good Fences Against Bad Neighbors.”

The problem evidenced by Rabbi Grossman’s response is not a disagreement over facts or even morality. The good rabbi sits on the advisory board of Rabbis for Human Rights which, in turn, was a founding member of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). The problem – a deep and worrying one – is the willingness of our spiritual leaders to justify fundamental violations of human rights in the name of “Jewish lives” and to refuse to hold Israel – the world’s fourth largest nuclear power and an occupying power – accountable for its actions.

map courtesy of B'Tselem - click for more information
Separation barrier detail courtesy of B’Tselem – click for more information

What is missing in Rabbi Grossman’s reply? “Occupation.” Never does she or her colleagues mention the “O” word. She apparently does not see the overarching political context of our conflict with the Palestinians. There is absolutely no reason why this conflict should continue. The Palestinians accepted the two-state idea already in 1988, well before Oslo. To lay the blame for the failure of the “peace process” at Arafat’s feet is simply outrageous. During the seven years of Oslo, as we were supposedly negotiating the status of the land, Jerusalem, a Palestinian state and all the rest, Israel doubled its settler population, effective foreclosing any viable Palestinian state. What would you have counseled the Palestinians to do – accept apartheid, not resist? Their offer of a two-state solution is still on the table – this is the gist of the Prisoners’ Document of all the Palestinian factions – but Olmert is talking “convergence/realignment,” annexing eight major settlement blocs to Israel, a permanent regime of apartheid in my view. And even the Arab League in 2002 offered Israel peace, recognition and regional integration in return for the Occupied Territories.

Rabbi Grossman also couches her reply in “security.” The issue is not security – Israel could have had that 20 years ago if it had relinquished its occupation; its Israeli claims to the Land. Nothing Israel has done in the Occupied Territories – not the expropriation of half the Palestinians’ land, not the building of 300 settlements and outposts, not the demolition of 18,000 Palestinian homes, not the uprooting of a million fruit and olive trees, not the construction of Israeli-only highways to link the settlements irreversibly into Israel and not the construction of the Separation Barrier with its convoluted route deep in Palestinian territory – can be explained by “security.” Security comes from peace; it cannot be acquired by force and repression.

Rabbi Grossman does not relate to the wider issues of occupation and apartheid, but relates solely to the “security barrier” – whose official name is the “Separation Barrier” because – again – its main purpose is to separate Jews from Arabs, as the Israeli government itself says. Doesn’t that sound like apartheid to you? And she is simply wrong about the wall. Except in tiny areas like Qalqilia and Tulkarm, the Wall does not separate Palestinians from Israelis but, rather, Palestinians from Palestinians. It is built inside Palestinian communities where Israelis never see it. Like in Abu Dis, where its separates grandparents from children, pupils from school, patients from doctors, customers from stores. As for snipers? In many places such as Ma’aleh Adumim the wall is actually lower than the road. No, the point of the wall is to mark borders, as Foreign Minister Tsipi Livi confessed a few months ago. “Security” might be a by-product (was the reduction in terrorism due to the barrier or to the year and half cease-fire declared unilaterally by Hamas?), but it is not the main purpose.

To call what we are doing to the Palestinians “hardship” and then to justify it as “saving Jewish lives” is truly a shanda. To call those under oppression – yes, our oppression – “bad neighbors,” shows to where we have descended as Jews defending indefensible Israeli policies of occupation and now apartheid. Its not a choice between Jewish lives or human rights; its human rights for everyone as a guarantee of Jewish lives.

Jeff Halper is the coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), based in Jerusalem.



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kevin s.

posted December 26, 2006 at 11:09 pm


Sure they supported a two-state solution. of course, they also supported Saddam’s use of Scud missile attacks. When you say Israel “doubled its settler population”, are you referring to the emigration of Russian Jews? How was that an act of apartheid? What the hell are you talking about?>



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Wolverine

posted December 27, 2006 at 12:35 am


Actually, my understanding is that Yassir Arafat renounced the Oslo accords shortly after they were announced. Basically, the Palestinians accept a “two state” solution only a temporary basis, with the understanding that they will use their state to dismantle Israel. Wolverine>



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kevin s.

posted December 27, 2006 at 3:28 am


“Basically, the Palestinians accept a “two state” solution only a temporary basis, with the understanding that they will use their state to dismantle Israel.” Which, of course, is what Mr. Halper and his friends would like to see happen.>



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Jarrod

posted December 27, 2006 at 1:55 pm


I just find it incredibly sad how Christians and Jews alike consider the Palestinians who blow up an Israeli marketplace “terrorists” but view an Israeli tank blowing up an occupied school in Palestine “self-defense.” Terrorism is terrorism. Wrong is wrong. I think what many of my “Zionist” Christian brothers and sisters tend to forget is that there are Christians that live in the Palestinian territory too. We should not be looking at this issue as Israelis versus Palestinians anyway; we should be seeing both of these peoples as children of God and working towards proactive ways to resolve this conflict allowing each to live peaceably with their own defined land.>



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stevecornforth

posted December 27, 2006 at 2:35 pm


The main article here is both informative and challenging. Sadly there will always be those who seek to justify oppression. Jarrod is absolutely right. Jesus did not die for one group or the other. Both are of equal value. When one nation with overwelming power uses that to divide communites that should be a genuine cause for concern to people of faith – whatever their politcal loyalties.>



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kevin s.

posted December 27, 2006 at 3:49 pm


“I just find it incredibly sad how Christians and Jews alike consider the Palestinians who blow up an Israeli marketplace “terrorists” but view an Israeli tank blowing up an occupied school in Palestine “self-defense.”” If you can demonstrate where Israel intentionally targetted schoolchildren, then you have a point. But that is not what is happening. I call Israeli actions self-defense because they are continually responding to the threat imposed on the not only by Palestine, but by the Arab world as a whole, which wishes to see the country destroyed. I am well aware that there are Christians living in Palestinian territory. That does nothing to change my opinion. They should speak out against the terror being acted out in the name of having their “own state”, which, as Wolverin pointed out, is merely a stop gap to the Palestinian one-state solution of eliminating Israel.>



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Wolverine

posted December 27, 2006 at 6:11 pm


I’m open to correction on this, but it’s my impression that Palestinian Christians do not necessarily support the Palestinian arabs in their quest for the removal of Israel. Wolverine>



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Rev. J. Roland Cole

posted December 27, 2006 at 9:20 pm


I always have and will support Israel’s right to exist. Ditto the Palestinians. In the process of establishing a much-needed State after the Holocaust and a thousand plus years of pograms and persecutions by so-called white Europeans, Israel took some Palestinian land and indefensibly killed Palestinians in the process. Many say the Israelis have a right to land taken in a 6 or 7 day war when Israel was atacked by most Arab neighbors. There is a case to be made. AND ISRAEL HAS BEEN ASSURD BY ARABS OF RECOGNITION IF IT GIVES BACK PALESTINIAN LANDS TAKEN DURING THAT WAR. HAMAS HAS KEPT ITS PROMISE OF NO TERRORISM FOR 18 MONTHS PLUS, PERHAPS TO LOOK MORE ATTRACTIVE FOR PALESTIANIAN ELECTIONS. PERHAPS NOT. I deplore my government’s punishment of Palestianians for electing 40 % Hamas in elections the US insisted upon (in spite of Israeli’s protests), throwing PALESTINIANS into dire economic straigHts and suffering; also, for not waiting to see if Hamas might not be more responsible with legitimate power/being a part of the government. There have been no peace talks for five or six years. Israel has put up the high walls–not just to protect itself or for legitimate borders. President Carter has written a new book pointing out that most of us have been far too one-sided in supporting the Israelis in ANYTHING they want to do – including the insupportable– instead of being concerned for the existence and legitimate rights of ALL participants in the region. This good article should be read, understood by all, and acted upon, as a way to bring peace and a real two-state solution to the Middle East. The U. S. needs to start TAKING ACTION to see that it happens–not just talk “good,” but walk the walk and pressure Israel to do so also. It’s way past time to stand still and not move forward, while people are being hurt and killed on both sides.>



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Steve K

posted December 27, 2006 at 11:52 pm

kevin s.

posted December 28, 2006 at 12:55 am


Ah yes, no place like the New York Times to find right wing propaganda.>



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justintime

posted December 28, 2006 at 2:48 am


A Pro-Israel Bias Steve K’s link is to the “If America Knew” site, not to the New York Times. “If America Knew” is trying to tell… “…what every American needs to know about Israel/Palestine.” They document a pro-Israel bias in the reporting on Israel/Palestine by the New York Times. Americans have been distracted away from the facts about Israel/Palestine by the “main stream” American media. Check out “If America Knew”. http://www.ifamericansknew.org/media/nyt-report.html Kevin will refuse to read past the headline, though. He’ll be protecting himself from a nasty cognitive dissonance experience. .>



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Christ's child

posted December 28, 2006 at 6:35 am


Greetings, Obtain a map of Palestine from a school in Palestine and then locate the state of Israel on that map.The reason that I ask this is because you will not find Israel on a palestinian map. Is there confusion about the maps and posession of this land and just who God gave all of this land to. Or do you reject the accounts of the bible that you profess your belief in and in historical facts. The arabs of today will not accept their own people and want to deny these very same people any space in an Arab land. The Arabs are using Israel and the Palestinian people as pawns to work towards a Islamic state and world. The very last thing that the Arab world wants is peace. Don’t you think that if the Arabs wanted peace they could make it happen, but then those Jew’s would still be there. The Arabs and the Palestinians have reinvented history and changed the maps too. Did you ever hear of the nomadic peoples where did they all go? If you slowly look around and read a few history books maybe it will become clear.The people living in Palestine should vent their anger on the Arabs and Jordan and not at Israel. America also is using Israel and the Palestinians for their own purposes because they need influence power,oil, etc. Arafat played both sides against the middle and lost his people in the process. No where in history has the victor been made to return the spoils of war and yet the Jews have done this very thing, piece by piece.When Someone wants to murder you because of who you are, what are you to do? Many of the common people would settle for a piece of land and a loaf of bread but they are not in control and never have been. Their leaders do not want peace without the distruction of Israel and if this is not clear then you are denying their own words and clear statements over a long period of time.>



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kevin s.

posted December 28, 2006 at 3:52 pm


“Kevin will refuse to read past the headline, though. He’ll be protecting himself from a nasty cognitive dissonance experience.” Heh, “cognitive dissonance” must be a term that the Kos people use a lot. You still aren’t using it correctly. I read the article. It is immaterial to the question of whether Israel has been justified in its actions. I would argue that it is neither indicative of bias. A suicide bomber intentionally murdering people on a bus is going to caputre more headlines than collateral damage from a rocket. If Israel starts murdering people without provocation, you’ll read about it. You gotta love an agenda that is so radically left-wing that the New York Times is considered too conervative for it.>



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justintime

posted December 28, 2006 at 7:36 pm


Kevin, Do you believe the Jews must take over the entire “Holy Land” before the second coming of Christ? .>



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kevin s.

posted December 28, 2006 at 9:39 pm


“Do you believe the Jews must take over the entire “Holy Land” before the second coming of Christ?” Nope.>



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justintime

posted December 28, 2006 at 11:25 pm


What do you think of militant American Zionists financing illegal settlements on Palestine land ? And what do you think of American Christians supporting these illegal Zionist encroachments, expecting the “End Times” and the “second coming of Christ”? .>



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justintime

posted December 29, 2006 at 2:22 am


And what do you think of the “Left Behind” Armageddon games for children? .>



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kevin s.

posted December 29, 2006 at 6:33 am


“And what do you think of the “Left Behind” Armageddon games for children?” I’m anti. What is your point here? Just throw whatever you can at this argument and hope it will stick? Why are you so adamantly against Israel? Have you come to your conclusions on your own, or are you basing them on what you have seen on the blog-sites you visit?>



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justintime

posted December 29, 2006 at 6:57 am


Kevin, I try to be neutral on the Israel/Palestine conflict. It’s difficult to remain neutral with our mainstream media promoting Israel as the victim and all Palestinians as terrorists. If America were truly neutral, America could become an honest broker and just might be able to negotiate a lasting peace. But America unequivocally supports Israel. As long as this continues as the official policy, the conflict is guaranteed to escalate and continue indefinitely. .>



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justintime

posted December 29, 2006 at 7:14 am


Oh, and what about these two questions: What do you think of militant American Zionists financing illegal settlements on Palestine land ? And what do you think of American Christians supporting these illegal Zionist encroachments, expecting the “End Times” and the “second coming of Christ”? .>



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god-is-in-the-tv

posted January 15, 2007 at 9:31 pm


Funny you should mention the “O” word. It’s one you’ll never hear a Zionist use. Look at the nightly news when they report violence from the occupied territories – they use the term “Jewish Neighborhoods,” as if they were just some lovely suburbs being attacked by evil Arabs. If they reported the truth – that these “neighborhoods” are actually illegal settlements, US opinion might line up more closely with reality on this subject.>



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