END THE OCCUPATION NOW!
 A Jewish Voice for Peace
3,7, 2002

[Jeff Halper, of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, sends out
this call to action to groups around the world. He reiterates his excellent
analysis of the Oslo process as one designed to lead to a Palestinian
semi-state that Israel would control, and how this misguided attempt to
"relieve Israel of the three million Palestinians residing in the Occupied
Territories but would leave it in control" has led us to the current horror
that is the day to day reality in Israel and the Occupied Territories.
Halper also points out that Ariel Sharon has adopted the attitude that there
can only be "one victor" in this conflict, thus negating the possibility for
a negotiated solution to it. Finally, Halper lays out his call to action,
describing what peoples all over the world as well as inside
Israel/Palestine, and people of all sorts of different backgrounds can do.
It is a call well worth heeding.
Fundamentally, Halper recognizes the point that should be crystal clear to
all involved with this conflict, whether directly or otherwise, yet seems to
be lost on so many: no progress can be made toward a permanent and lasting
resolution of this conflict as long as the occupation continues. On the
Israeli side, many do not want to end the occupation unless that means
ending the 100-year old conflict between Zionism and Palestinian
nationalism. This was Ehud Barak's approach, and he brought it with him to
Camp David. On the Palestinian side, the message of ending the occupation
has become blurred through other demands, as well as the fear that if Israel
does end the occupation without settling issues such as Jerusalem and the
refugees, these questions will, de facto, be resolved in Israel's favor.
Indeed, it will be crucial that an end to the occupation be accompanied by
GOOD FAITH negotiations aimed at resolving these issues in a just manner,
preferably under international auspices (though with the way the United
States jealously guards against anyone but themselves being involved in this
conflict that may be too much to wish for), and that these negotiations do
lead to the final conclusion of this bloody conflict.
Yet there can still be no doubt that nothing can happen positively without
the ending of the occupation. As long as the occupation continues, the
climate for such actions is completely inhospitable to any serious progress.
Whatever one views as the ultimate end result to be striven for, the first
step is to end the occupation. Not the last, the first. And it is long
overdue and, as Halper suggests, we must unite in our demand that it end
NOW! - MP]
 

A Call For International Action:  END THE OCCUPATION NOW!
By Jeff Halper: Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
This is the moment of decision. The Israeli army today opened its widest
campaign against Palestinian "targets" ever non-stop bombardment from the
air, sea and land, invasion of large Palestinian areas (especially in Gaza),
house demolitions, killings, arrests and the declaring of a virtual halt to
Palestinian traffic on all the roads of the Occupied Territories. This is
the time when all of us -- NGOs, faith-based organizations and citizens,
Palestinians, Israelis and members of the international community -- must
arise and focus our efforts on one goal, and one goal only: To bring an end
to the brutal Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza
NOW.

During the seven years of Oslo, Israel pursued a particular vision of
"peace:" a non-viable and only semi-independent Palestinian mini-state that
would relieve Israel of the three million Palestinians residing in the
Occupied Territories but would leave it in control. Israel's ferocious
response to the Intifada came from a fear that the Palestinian Street would
break the PA out of the Oslo framework and lead it to a true dismantling of
the Occupation, to a viable and truly sovereign Palestinian state.

That is the battle being waged now, between an Israeli-controlled
Palestinian Bantustan and a viable, sovereign Palestinian state. Couching
Palestinian resistance as mere "terrorism" (and thereby cynically exploiting
the simplistic "anti-terror" approach of the post-September 11 Bush
Administration), Israel is using its entire military arsenal (except its
nuclear weapons) to suppress Palestinian aspirations "for once and for all."
Sharon, who believes that there can be only one "victor," has declared that
the current offensive, escalated daily, will not cease until the
Palestinians "surrender."

The only force preventing the defeat of Palestinian aspirations for
independence is the Palestinian Street. This is the force that rose up
against an Oslo process that was leading it to apartheid. This is the force
that appealed to the international community for support in its struggle
against a vastly superior military and political oppressor. But how long the
Palestinian people can hang on is a matter of question. People speak bravely
of fighting for as long as it takes, but military strikes, invasions of
refugee camps, impoverishment, house demolitions, severe restrictions on
movement and psychological fatigue all take their toll. Israel's smooth,
well-oiled machine of public relations and diplomacy has succeeded in
isolating the Palestinians internationally and delegitimizing Arafat's
leadership.

This is the time when an international Intifada is called for, when members
of the international community must stand up and demand that their
governments end the Occupation NOW. This must be the focus of our actions.
All else, no matter how well intentioned, has been rendered irrelevant by
the events of the past weeks.

What must we do?

* International NGOs, faith-based organizations and political groups must
join their extensive but scattered and poorly-focused networks into a
coherent, adamant Campaign Against the Occupation. Each country must form a
campaign team and those teams must develop a working framework of
cooperation and joint action. The international and country-based teams
should then establish contacts with Palestinian and Israeli organizations
for purposes of

-- articulating our immediate concerns and demanding an end to the
occupation now;
-- coordination;
-- the development of informational and campaign materials;
-- the dispatching of local delegations (Palestinian, Israeli and joint) for
the purposes of lobbying, media work and appearing in public forums abroad.
Effective lobbying in the American Congress, the European Parliament and in
European capitals is essential. I would urge that joint Palestinian-Israeli
delegations be sent with a simple, compelling message: we are on the same
side, the side that aspires to a just peace that addresses the right of
self-determination of the Palestinian people while bringing security,
stability and economic development to the entire region;
-- the dispatching of international delegations to Palestine to engage in
resistance actions, and to develop with them effective follow-up actions
back home.

We also need more effective means of raising funds for our work, and of
focusing our funding on campaigns and actions that bear directly upon the
urgent task of ending the Occupation.

* Palestinian organizations must focus their efforts on a Campaign to End
the Occupation Now, pulling together the agendas of their many organizations
into a coordinated and effective effort. In my opinion, a close working
relationship between Palestinian NGOs and those Israeli organizations that
share in their agenda of ending the Occupation is essential for effective
advocacy.

* Israeli peace and human rights organizations must also develop a more
effective framework of action. Besides our scattered protest activities, we
must find ways to effectively communicate with the Israeli public, and we
must be much more involved in international networking and campaigns,
including production of better informational materials. We must also seek
ways to support Palestinian organizations.

All the pieces are in place. We have the organizations and the worldwide
networks. Some of us have the information, others the funding, still others
the skills at putting together an international campaign, working with the
media, gaining access to decision-makers. Some of us are here, on "the
ground" in Palestine/Israel, with all we can contribute; others are abroad,
in key positions to influence public opinion in their countries and their
governments' policies. We now all share the responsibility, the collective,
urgent responsibility, of bringing all our resources to bear on the only
issue before us: ending the Occupation now.

People and organizations at the center of international networks have to
decide how to proceed. You all know each other. Network, discuss, develop
mechanisms of coordination and suggest to us "on the ground" how to link up
effectively. Palestinian organizations perhaps through PNGO should declare a
common Campaign For Ending the Occupation Now in order to focus their
attention and interact effectively with organizations abroad, with all the
contact information. Again, I would urge a meeting with partner Israeli
organizations to strengthen the cooperation. ICAHD will work to create
better forums of cooperation among Israeli organizations, and to augment the
present emphasis on activism with effective international advocacy and
campaigning.

We should not underestimate our power, the power of the international civil
society, which is growing in strength and organization. This is the moment
in which we must arise and assert our collective will.

End the Occupation NOW!
 
 

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