Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions. AFSC nominated Halper and Palestinian activist Ghassan Andoni for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.
Jeff Halper has been a peace and human rights activist for more than three decades. Born in the United States, he participated in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements of the 1960s. Halper immigrated to Israel in 1973 after attending rabbinical school and becoming a Vietnam War resister.
In Israel, Halper taught anthropology at Haifa and Ben-Gurion Universities. During his Israeli military service, he refused to bear arms or serve in the occupied Palestinian territories. In 1997, Halper co-founded the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD). For this work, the AFSC nominated him and Palestinian activist Ghassan Andoni for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. He also serves on the steering committee of the UN Conference on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
"We think, as Israelis, that Jews and Arabs should live together," Halper says. "Palestinians have rights of self-determination just like we have. We have to fight also for their rights. One of our slogans is 'we refuse to be their enemies.'"
Since 1967 Israel has pursued a policy of expanding the settlement of Israeli civilians into the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which includes Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, while severely limiting Palestinian growth, confining the population to small enclaves. Under the guise of planning and the law, the natural development of Palestinian towns and villages is frozen by various means, including land expropriation, discriminatory planning and zoning policies, restrictive granting of building permits and the demolition of Palestinian homes. According to ICAHD, since 1967 more than 18,000 Palestinian homes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories have been destroyed by the Israeli military or civil authority in defiance of international law.
As the coordinator of ICAHD, Halper has led nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience against the Israeli occupation authorities. He has put his own personal safety on the line, facing bulldozers in front of Palestinian homes and confronting Israeli soldiers. He also organizes Israelis, Palestinians, and internationals to help rebuild demolished Palestinian homes.
A tireless writer and speaker, Halper travels extensively to build international support for ICAHD. He also raises important issues not covered in mainstream media, such as the “matrix of control” – the framework created by Israeli settlements, settler-only highways, and the Separation Wall. He has also spoken for several years about Israeli apartheid policies in the Occupied Territories. As Halper explains,
We are against the Israeli policy of the occupation and the displacement. If you create an apartheid situation, if you lock another people into prison, in the end, you cannot develop a healthy, normal, and prosperous society. The occupation, conflict, terrorism, settlements, all affects the Israeli society and economy. As long as the occupation continues, Israel itself can not be free.
For more information on ICAHD’s activities, see www.icahd.org/eng/ .
For more information on house demolitions, click here.
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Kathleen McQuillen on the Federal Budget and Palestine-Israel