By Ken Boas
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), was founded in Jerusalem in 2003. Its mission – to resist the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes. ICAHD, with its Palestinian, Israeli, and International allies, has rebuilt over 200 Palestinian homes and handed over the keys to the Palestinian owners. (ICAHD Founder, Jeff Halper, speaks in Pittsburgh February 3 and 4.)
The Palestinian home, often occupied by three or more generations of Palestinians, is the beating heart of Palestinian life. To demolish the home, as the Israelis well understand, is to break down the foundation of centuries old Palestinian culture. The relentless destruction and dispossession of Palestinian homes and their inhabitants have always been understood by ICAHD as a metaphor for the larger and more systematic state terrorism, dispossession and incremental genocide against the Palestinian people.
For Palestinian women, the home is the center of their power and status within the male dominated community. This loss is devastating. For the children, fear and long-term trauma and depression are engendered. And for the men, to hopelessly witness the destruction of the home they have proudly maintained for generations, a sense of anger, impotence, and deep despair overcomes them. All of this is exactly what Israel wants –what they have always wanted since 1948 and earlier, when the first Kibbutz movement in the early 20th century began by taking Palestinian land, dispossessing the people, and building the Kibbutz for Israeli farmers. To break the spirit of the Palestinian is the essential motivation for home demolition and the entire ‘matrix of control’ imposed on the Palestinian people. It isn’t about security, it isn’t about punishment, it’s about how to make life so unbearable for the people that they will give up.
ICAHD always realized that rebuilding was a stopgap measure. It did serve to send notice to Israel that there was resistance, and it did bring people from all over the world to witness the Palestinian side of the story. But it did not slow down the Israeli movement to Judaize all of Palestine and repress and dispossess the Palestinians. As permanent Occupation turned into Apartheid, a new strategy was necessary.
Two years ago, Jeff Halper, the founder of ICAHD, author and nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, and a group of Palestinians and Israelis, began to move in another direction. A number of factors entered into this major shift in thinking, although the essential understanding had been clear for years: the impossibility of a two-state solution. We need go no further than to realize that two states mean that Zionism recognizes that Palestinians have an indigenous right to the land. It will never willingly do this. As well, if one looks at the massive settlement tracts throughout the West Bank, the dispossession of Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, the theft of Area C (60% of the West Bank), and the recently passed draconian Nation-State law for Jews only, it is obvious that a state for the Palestinians on any of this land was never the intention of Israel.
In the face of all this, there was only one viable response. And this response is the current focus and work of ICAHD: One Democratic State from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. This means a democratic secular state with equal constitutional rights for all the people, including the right of return for the Palestinian diaspora. As Halper and
others have realized, it is time to stop wasting time burying the two-state solution or trying to ‘manage’ the so-called Occupation. The heart of this new campaign is acting upon the well-established historical fact that Israel is a Settler-Colonial regime, and that democratic statehood must come from complete decolonization.
Halper, in his recent article, writes: “Regardless of Zionism’s claim to have begun as a genuine national movement, once it chose the form of settler colonialism it made decolonization the only acceptable form of resolution. It is Zionist/Israeli policies and actions that have eliminated any other form of accommodation other than decolonization.
“Defining a process of decolonization, then, brings us closer to an actual plan. As important as resistance, protests, BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) activism, lobbying, campaigning and other actions may be, a political struggle cannot be resolved without an end-game – and in the case of Palestine/Israel an end-game formulated and led by Palestinians, with strategic support from critical Israelis and the international civil society. We need to translate the requirements of decolonization into a political plan, a vision of the future, and an effective strategy for getting there. The One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC), has formulated a 10-point program for establishing a single democratic state in historic Palestine based on the principle of decolonization.” https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/10/12/choices-made-from-zionist-settler-colonialism-to-decolonization/
Jeff visits Pittsburgh and all are welcome. The two events are at the Unitarian Church in Shadyside: Sunday, February 3, 1:00 pm, and on Monday evening Feb. 4, 7:00 pm –9:30 pm. Donations Requested. (If you have any question, please email me for details at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Please take advantage of this rare opportunity to meet with Jeff Halper. Jeff will talk about the One State Campaign and its 10-point program, followed by an open discussion of this and other issues.
Ken Boas is Chair of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions -USA.