|Following the corona hiatus in the work and lives of many of us, Jeff Halper has returned to the “campaign trail.” After a three-week tour of the UK in September, he departed in October for a month-long tour beginning in Italy (Turin and Milan) and continuing in the US. At this stage of the struggle for Palestinian rights, the purpose of his tours is two-fold.
First presenting the political program of establishing a single and inclusive democracy over historic Palestine – the 10-point program formulated by the Palestinian-led One Democratic State Campaign, of which ICAHD is a charter member. Since this approach to achieving justice in Palestine/Israel is just in its infancy, much work and discussion are still needed before a critical mass of Palestinians adopt it, the intent is not (at this stage) to recruit people to the idea, but to open a discussion of a future resolution that will bring direction, focus and engagement to international supporters of the Palestinian struggle who need to see a way forward if they are to continue to be involved.
Second, by sharing what is happening in Palestine (heightened repression, demolitions, loss of land and settlement, Israel’s final push to consolidate its apartheid regime), analysis made more visual, powerful and understandable by the powerpoint presentation Jeff uses, activists are kept up-dated and motivated. Targeting strategic populations (students, activists on other issues, churches, the media and decision-makers), as well as the general public, grows our ranks.
In order to engage meaningfully with activists and the public, Jeff spends a week or so in selected areas. He began in Indiana and Michigan, where he was hosted by the Indiana Center for Middle East Peace (its Director, Michael Spath, is also the co-Director of ICAHD USA). From there he traveled to Boston, one of the centers of Palestinian advocacy in the US, where he met with key activists. He then finished his tour in Texas, presenting in Denton and Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. One meeting that stood out among the many he had was a presentation and discussion at the University of Houston, sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine. Young Palestinians, be they in Palestine or in the Diaspora/Exile, are the key to the future of their people and, indeed, the region. It was a good if sometimes contentious meeting as Palestinian students struggle with the tension between absolute justice and the need to envision a future they must share with Israelis, who will remain a permanent presence in the country, albeit in a decolonized state.
At time when nothing has happened politically in Palestine/Israel for years (the last negotiations, futile as they were, were held by Kerry in 2014), when many feel a sense of helplessness as Israel mops up Palestinian resistance and establishes its apartheid regime, supported as always by the governments the world over, including Arab and Muslim ones, and when the Palestinians themselves lack leadership, organization and a political program, it is crucial to keep the international grassroots focused, political and engaged – knowing that the struggle is ultimately winnable.
Israel may be strong among governments, but that support is shallow and changeable. Israel has already lost in the Court of Public Opinion, which is why it has been reduced to weaponizing antisemitism. By contrast, the Palestinians are stronger than even they realize, having the support of masses the world over. Those masses, however, including the thousands of solidarity groups active around the world, need to be constantly re-energized and focused as we pass through this phase of the Palestinian struggle – which may be an extended one – in which the Palestinians themselves must re-engage with their far-flung communities in forging a way forward, one that then becomes our marching orders.