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Advocating for peaceful protest and a one-state solution

According to Jeff Halper, a Jewish-American anthropology professor who has lived in Israel since 1973, Israel is “consciously, deliberately, systematically refusing the two-state solution with a matrix of control.”

He therefore proposes solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a one-state solution. Israelis and Palestinians living in one state could have equal rights and a two-house parliament – one Israeli and one Palestinian – that would give every citizen two votes, he suggested at a lecture at St. Andrew’s United Church on Feb. 4.

“They could have national universities and museums, and neither house could make decisions without the other’s consent … it would be a consociational state … because they’re not based on trust – everyone is included
and everyone has a stake.”

Halper says Israel’s political and economic gains from the conflict are the reason for its rejection of the two-state solution. “The occupation itself becomes a laboratory,” he said.

“Israel is the world leader in biometrics because it has Palestinians walking through checkpoints every day.”

“Israel is very clever … I was interviewed here this morning and one caller argued that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East,” he said, explaining that 95 per cent of the land taken from the Palestinians in 1948 is currently labelled as park or agricultural land, even when it is not suitable for farming. “This is not going to come from within,” he said, “that’s why I’m here and not in Tel Aviv – we need international support.”

When not traveling the world to garner support, Halper acts as the head of his organization, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition (ICHAD).

“We chain ourselves to the houses, we get in front of bulldozers … when there are journalists, diplomats, and activists involved in the commotion, [the Israeli soldiers] retreat because they don’t want photographs,” said
Halper.

ICHAD has rebuilt the house of one man, Salim Shawamreh, six times. Shawamreh also lives with his wife and their seven children.

“The tragedy was that the driver of the bulldozer was a friend of Salim’s,” Halper said of the first time Israeli soldiers gave Shawamreh’s family 15 minutes to evacuate their home and then pumped tear gas through
the windows when Shawamreh protested and his wife locked the door.

Shawamreh applied for a building permit three times, each time costing him $5,000, in hope of building legally, but did not receive one.

There are approximately 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank, but only 18 building permits were given out last year, said Halper.

“187 homes over 14 years as political acts of resistance…if it’s Israelis and Palestinians building homes together, that’s meaningful.”

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