Power to the (PALESTINIAN) people!

by Jeff Halper



The people of Palestinian have done it again, taking their own fate in their
hands after being let down by their own “moderate” political leadership and,
indeed, the entire international community in their struggle for freedom.
Early this morning they simply blew up the wall separating Gaza from Egypt ,
breaking a siege imposed on them by an Arab government in collaboration with
Israel .

We, the peoples of the world, should take great pride and encouragement in
this quintessentially civil society refusal to accept subjugation, to
abandon their fate to governments, including their own, for whom the lives
of ordinary people are simply grist for their political charades – Annapolis
and its subsequent “peace process” being but the last cynical expression.
For the Palestinians represent far more than just themselves. Their refusal
to submit to the dictates of governments, or to governments’ lack of
interest in the well-being of people in general, reflects the desire of
billions of oppressed people for identity, freedom, a decent life and
actualization of their collective and individual rights and potentials. Most
of the oppressed, the “wretched of the earth” as Franz Fanon called them a
half-century ago, are too preoccupied with the daunting daily struggle for
survival to organize and resist. Others do resist in a myriad of ways, but
are most often repressed by their own political and economic “leaders,”
disappearing anonymously from view. In a few cases they have managed to
mount effective resistance to oppression, even to prevail – though the
billions spent on “counterinsurgency” warfare by the US, Europe, Russia,
Israel and many “developing” nations augur ill for peoples attempting to
overthrow oppressive regimes.

In this the Palestinians stand at the forefront, in the front lines of
peoples’ insistence everywhere that their rights, well-being and fundamental
values as human beings be respected by governments. And they do so (and I
write this as an Israeli with great sorrow and shame) against one of the
world’s strongest and most ruthless military powers – a power that has
dispossessed them from 85% of their land, which is trying to transform its
occupation into a permanent regime of apartheid, which has spent decades
impoverishing and disenfranchising them; the fourth largest nuclear power
which nevertheless casts itself as the victim. Not only have the
Palestinians experienced the dehumanization all oppressed and colonized
peoples experience, not only have  they been made into the embodiment of the
rich and powerful’s greatest fear, evil “terrorists” who may tear down their
privileged “civilization,” but they have been turned into guinea pigs.
Israel is able to gain an edge in the counterinsurgency industry and win
entree into the heart of the American military/hi tech complex by turning
the Occupied Territories into a laboratory for the development of fiendish
weaponry and tactics intended for use against people.

And yet the Palestinian people – and in particular those who remain sumud,
steadfast, in Palestine – continue not only to resist but to surprise and
confound its would-be Israeli master at every turn. Despite unlimited
control, a complete monopoly over the use of force, utter callousness and a
vaunted Shin Beit, Israel ’s military intelligence, Palestinians vote as they
want, resist, carry on their daily lives with dignity – and blow huge holes
in the walls and policies constructed in order to imprison and defeat them.

All this is not on the minds of those desperate people who surged into Egypt
today. They may not have the “Big Picture.” Yet they deserve the respect and
gratefulness of every person who cherishes a better world based on human
rights and dignity, a world that is inclusive. As an Israeli Jew, I am
saddened and mortified that my own people, after all they have experienced,
cannot see what they are doing to others. But on a larger scale, not as an
Israeli Jew but as a human being, I take heart in the Palestinians’ active
refusal to be ground under a global system that is producing unimaginable
wealth and power for a few at the expense of the growing ranks of the

I am not a Palestinian; I am not one of the oppressed. I only hope I can use
my privilege in an effective way in order to redeem the gift the people of
Gaza have given all of us: the realization that the people do have power and
can prevail even in the face of overwhelming power. We may each express our
responsibility towards the people of Gaza in whatever way most suits us, but
as the privileged we must do something. We owe the Palestinians and the
Palestinians writ large at least that.


Dr Jeff Halper is the Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House
Demolitions (ICAHD,,,,)and until recently, was Professor of Anthropology at Ben
Gurion University in Israel . He has researched and written extensively on Israeli
society and is the author of the book “Between Redemption and Revival: the
Jewish Yishuv in Jerusalem in the Nineteenth Century”, Westview, 1991.  His
works also focuses on the Israel/Palestine question and he has written
numerous articles and books on the subject. In 2006, he was nominated for
the Nobel Peace Prize along with Palestinian activist Ghassan Andoni for his
untiring work in organising and leading nonviolent direct action and civil
disobedience against Israel ’s occupation policies and authorities, putting
his own personal safety on the line.  His currently organises Israelis,
Palestinians and internationals to help rebuild demolished Palestinian