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Jeff Halper on the Obama Administration and the Occupation

From: "Jewish Peace News

Subject: Jeff Halper on the Obama Administration and the Occupation
Date: Mon, 17 Nov 2008 21:05:44 +0000

This article by Jeff Halper, the American- born Director of the Israeli
Committee Against Home Demolitions, clearly lays out the consequences to the
United States of its support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and makes
a clear and compelling case that the new Obama administration must make ending
the occupation a priority.

--Rebecca Vilkomerson

Jeff Halper

Even before the voting began, Israeli politicians and pundits were asking: Will
an Obama Administration be good for Israel? "Be good for Israel" is our code for
"Will the US allow us to kee p our settlements and continue to support our
efforts to prevent negotiations with the Palestinians from ever bearing fruit?"
For Americans the question should be: Will the Obama Administration understand
that without addressing Palestinian needs it will not be able to disentangle
itself from its broader Middle Eastern imbroglios, rejoin the community of
nations and rescue its economy?

The Israel-Palestine conflict should be of central concern to Americans, near
the top of the new Administration's agenda. It may not be the bloodiest conflict
in the world – its minor when compared to Iraq – but it is emblematic to Muslims
and to peoples the world over of American hostility and belligerence. The
Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not merely a localized one between two
squabbling tribes. It lies at the epicenter of global instability. Go where you
may in the world and you will encounter the same phenomenon: a sense that the
sufferin g of the Palestinians represents all that is wrong in an
American-dominated world.

As Obama comes into office, he will encounter a global reality very different
from that of eight years before: a multilateral one in which a weakened and
isolated US must find its place. He will discover that much of America's
isolation comes from the view that the Occupation of the Palestinian territories
is, in fact, an American-Israeli Occupation. If restoring a weakened American
economy depends on repairing relations with the rest of the world, he will learn
that without resolving the Israeli-Palestine conflict he will not create those
conditions in which the US will be accepted once more into the wider global

To be more specific, the Israel-Palestine conflict directly affects Americans in
at least five ways:

· It isolates the US from major global markets, forcing it to embark on
aggressive measures to secure markets r ather than peaceful accommodation;

· It thereby diverts the American economy into non-productive production
(tanks not roads), making it dependent upon deficit spending which only
increases dependency upon foreign financing while diverting resources into the
military rather than into education, health and investment;

· Support for the Israeli military costs US taxpayers more than $3
billion annually at a time of deepening recession and crumbling national

· It leads to an American involvement in the world that is mainly
military, thus begetting hostility and resistance which produce the threats to
security Americans so greatly fear; and

· It ends up threatening American civil liberties by encouraging such
legislation as the Patriot Act and by introducing Israeli "counterinsurgency"
tactics and weaponry developed in the West Bank and Gaza into American police

For many peoples of th e world, the Palestinians represent the plight of the
majority. They are the tiny grains of sand resisting what most Americans and
privileged people of the West do not see. They are a people who are denied the
most fundamental right: to a state of their own, even on the 22% of historic
Palestine that Israel has occupied since 1967. For the majority of humanity that
lives in economic and political conditions unimaginable in the West, the
suffering caused by Israel's occupation – impoverishment and a total denial of
freedom that can only be sustained by total American support – is emblematic of
their own continued suffering. Israel's oppression of the Palestinians with the
active backing of the US shows demonstrably the existence of a global system of
Western domination that prevents others from achieving their own dreams of
political and economic well-being.

Like a bone in the throat, the issue of Israel's occupation can be neither
ignored nor by-passed. To make things even more difficult, it is doubtful if a
two-state solution is still possible, since Israeli settlement activity has
largely eliminated that option. Whatever the eventual solution, if this most
destabilizing of conflicts is not addressed, the US – even under Obama – will
remain mired in conflicts with Muslim peoples and reviled by peoples seeking
genuine freedom. Neither the US nor Israel will find the security they claim
they seek. We live in a global reality, not a Pax Americana. The logic of the
Bush Administration has run its course. No longer can the US throw its weight
around in a War Against Terror. No longer can its involvement be purely
military. The new logic that will accompany Obama into office can be summarized
in one word: accommodation. And the US will not get to first base until it
achieves accommodation with the Muslim world, which means ending the Israeli
Occupation. What ha ppens to the Palestinians takes on a global significance.
Clearing the bone in the throat – that is, ending the Israeli Occupation and
allowing the Palestinians a state and a future of their own – should be a top
priority of the next American administration. Indeed, America's attempt to
restore its standing in the world depends on it. In the global reality in which
we live, the fate of Americans and Palestinians, it turns out, are closely

(Jeff Halper is the Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
He can be reached at .)

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions is based in Jerusalem and has
chapters in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Please visit our websites:

Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Rach eli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman
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