By Jeff Halper
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Extra resources for An Israeli in Palestine: Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel
I envy my friends at universities who have research assistants, time, quiet, financial support and academic retreats. There are no sabbaticals for peace-makers, certainly not for me who feels a responsibility to “be there” and who must also run an office. The Occupation takes no summer breaks. In fact, I’m completing the manuscript in Birmingham, Alabama, where I’m attending a conference organized by Sabeel, the Palestinian Christian liberation theology organization. I did take a couple hours to visit the Civil Rights Museum here, where the door of the cell in which Martin Luther King wrote his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail in 1963 is displayed.
The “Jewish” part of my identity melted away in favor of an Israeli one upon my arrival in Israel, and it has never returned. My work among Mizrahi Jews (that is, Jews from Muslim countries) grounded me solidly in Israeli society. The other community with which I was involved, the Israeli peace camp, remained important to me. No sooner had I landed in Jerusalem than I attended a meeting of Siakh, the Israeli New Left, where I met my future wife and partner-in-crime, Shoshana. I was critical of Israeli policies towards both the Palestinians and the Mizrahi Jews, but my romance with Israel continued to dominate my personal and professional life.
If you knocked down a house, you buried 40 or 50 people for generations. If I am sorry for anything, it is for not tearing the whole camp down. I didn’t stop for a moment. I had plenty of satisfaction. I really enjoyed it. If the job was to hard, we would ask for a tank shell. I couldn’t stop. On Sunday, after the fighting was over, we got orders to pull our D-9s out of the area, and stop working on our “football stadium”, because the army didn’t want the cameras and press to see us working…. I had lots of satisfaction in Jenin, lots of satisfaction.
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