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<nettime> Jeff Halper: (Gaza) Power to the (Palestinian) People!

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Jeff Halper

January 23, 2008

The people of Palestine 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 

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 have been 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 wretched.

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.

(Jeff Halper is the Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House 
Demolitions (ICAHD) .

Israel Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
PO Box 2030 Jerusalem, Israel 21090
Your support is always appreciated.
Please go to our website to make a secure online donation.

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