What is to be done about Israel to stop what is being done to Palestinians? As just reported in the Guardian, “Domestic politics in Israel has lurched far to the right, and the fate of millions of Palestinians under Israeli military control has all but disappeared from election campaigns.” As reported by Ha’aretz: “Kahanist Racism, Homophobia Enter Knesset After Far-right Party’s Strong Showing.” While hope for change draws on the partially successful end of apartheid in South Africa due to international pressure, Israel draws on international support through its weapons/surveillance/security trade, and through its politically effective conflation of antisemitism with antizionism. Since its inception, Israel has been able to disregard with impunity the UN prohibition of wars of aggression, UN resolutions and conventions on the rights of refugees, the treatment of occupied peoples, nuclear weapons, on apartheid and genocide, on international humanitarian law, on collective punishment and torture, on the treatment of children.
When I first heard Jeff Halper speak about Israel over a decade ago, he said that you have to start with the reality of Israel, not its image. Israel had to be reframed as a military power, not as the eternal victim of worldwide antisemitism, entitled to do whatever it wanted in the name of security. Since then, he has written about Israel’s indispensable and entrenched role in global militarization, cutting-edge weapons, surveillance technology, border control, and police strategy.
In his latest book, Decolonizing Israel, Liberating Palestine: Zionism, Settler Colonialism, and the Case for One Democratic State (London: Pluto Press, 2021), Halper reframes Israel as a settler colonial state necessitating a clear oppositional political strategy with an end-game of actively decolonizing the whole political structure.
Why listen to Halper? He is an academic, a public intellectual and, as with other Israel critics, actively defying attempts to criminalize anti-Zionism. Halper is also an activist with years of experience on the ground. He is a founding member of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. As well he is part of the One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC), where over the last two years, 50 Palestinians and 20 Israeli Jews have met regularly over the last two years to hammer out a political program. Though working conjointly, in his new book Halper is clear that he is speaking for himself.