Israeli policies are 'beyond apartheid'

March 28, 2009

Attempts by the Australian Zionist lobby to discourage audiences from hearing visiting Israeli anti-occupation activist Jeff Halper, which included pulling an advertisement from the Australian Jewish News and cancelling a meeting at a Sydney synagogue, only served to gain media publicity for his speaking tour.

In Sydney he spoke at four universities and at a meeting for the Jewish community organised by Jews Against the Occupation and Independent Australian Jewish Voices.

AJN publisher Robert Magid lashed out at these groups saying, "they use their Judaism to bash other Jews", according to the March 12 Sydney Morning Herald.

Halper, who heads the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, told his audiences that ICAHD worked with Palestinian organisations, such as the Palestinian Land Defence Committee, in non-violent civil disobedience against Israel's demolition of Palestinian homes and in rebuilding demolished houses, not simply for humanitarian reasons, but as political resistance to the occupation of Palestine.

He explained that, while permits to build housing for Jewish settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem were routinely granted and unauthorised settlement building generally retrospectively approved, no permits to build had been given to Palestinians since Israel took the territories in 1967.

Israel has demolished 24,000 Palestinian homes for lacking permits in this time.

House demolitions are a crucial part of Israeli policies aimed at confining Palestinians (who are roughly half the population under Israeli rule) to "70 to 80 islands", comprising 40% of the 1967-occupied territories, or 8.8% of the whole country. Halper said that these policies went "beyond apartheid" to "warehousing Palestinians".

He described Israel/Palestine as a "global laboratory" in "warehousing" populations and in urban counter-insurgency warfare — demonstrated by the recent carnage in Gaza, in which Israel used experimental weapons.

He suggested that this central role in the global military-industrial complex was the main reason for the West's unquestioning support of Israel against its Palestinian population.

For this reason, he called on the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel to focus on military and security ties and the arms trade.

Halper also used his speaking tour to describe the human dimension of Israel's policy of house demolitions and to advocate for a democratic solution that allowed for full rights for all the inhabitants of Israel/Palestine and the right of Palestinian refugees to return. This would require the abandonment of the racist project of an exclusively Jewish state.

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