Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Halper, Shawamreh on Rebuilding Campaign

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Halper, Shawamreh on Rebuilding Campaign

Article excerpt

Jeff Halper, coordinator of The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), and Salim Shawamreh, Palestinian engineer and three-time home demolition victim, spoke in San Rafael Oct. 11 on the Global Campaign for Rebuilding Homes. The Marin Peace and Justice Coalition hosted the program at the First United Methodist Church.

The Global Campaign for Rebuilding Homes is an international movement to rebuild Palestinian homes demolished by the Israeli army, both inside Israel and in the occupied territories. The organization was created by ICAHD and the Jerusalem Center for Social & Economic Rights (JCSER) with assistance from Just Peace Technolo gies, a Silicon Valley-based nonprofit which provides coordination and communication services and designed the Global Campaign for Rebuilding Homes Web site.

Halper, an Israeli-American professor of anthropology at Ben-Gurion University, explained that rebuilding the homes is an act of solidarity with the Palestinians and "a massive rejection of occupation." By demolishing homes, he said, the Israelis are sending the message to Palestinians that "You can't go home-you have no refuge there is no place for you in this country."

Since 1967, Halper noted, Israel has demolished more than 9,000 Palestinian homes-1,200 since its March reoccupation of Palestinian territory-and recently announced plans to demolish over 100 houses and apartments located near Beit Sahour (see p. 66). Destroying homes is Israel's "policy of displacement," Halper pointed out, one which condemns Palestinians to apartheid-like bantustans. Under international law, Halper explained, "occupation" connotes a temporary situation. If the occupation becomes permanent, he said, it is apartheid.

Aided by a giant map of Israel/Palestine projected on a screen, Halper pointed out the location of illegal Jewish settlements, Jewish-only bypass roads, and the isolated areas of Palestinian cities and villages once controlled by the Palestinian Authority, but reoccupied by Israel since March. Halper believes that, since Israel has "trashed" the West Bank over the past eight months-"It looks like Dresden!" he exclaimed-Israel eventually will relocate the Palestinian Authority from Ramallah to Gaza, where the Sharon government has left the infrastructure relatively intact. The major Palestinian areas in the West Bank now are limited to Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron. These four non-contiguous areas, Halper emphasized, must not be allowed to become Israel's version of a two-state solution. …

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