By Jeff Halper
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Extra resources for An Israeli in Palestine: Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel
As dramatic as the events surrounding their home turned out to be—hundreds of soldiers, Border Police, Israeli officials and demolition workers beating and threatening and shooting, throwing out furniture, yelling, giving orders and, in the end, 36 Halper 01 intro 36 14/12/07 10:16:34 THE MESSAGE OF T H E B U LLD O Z E R S 37 leaving a demolished family in the dust and ruins of their home—Salim, his wife Arabiya, and their six children were also doing nothing more than living their ordinary lives, albeit under occupation.
I didn’t always realize that. For many years I was active in organizations that could have been described as “Zionist,” from Siakh, the Israeli New Left in the early 1970s through “The 21st Year” to various ad hoc coalitions, although they always pushed the “left” side of The Box. ) Even the founding of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) in 1997, in which I took a leading role, did not signal Halper 01 intro 17 14/12/07 10:16:33 18 A N I S R A ELI I N PA LES T I N E the crossing of any particular ideological line.
But I also confronted the uncompromising demands of intellectual honesty. Without the benefit of a classroom where I controlled the discussion, without the safe distance between teacher and pupil, my students compelled me to adhere to the very intellectual standards I had been asking of them. I learned that defensiveness is not an honest intellectual position. Quite the opposite, it obfuscates; it is employed when a strong argument is lacking, or when you know the other side has a point. Nabila and the students did not give me the luxury of staying comfortably within self-imposed parameters, using sophistic intellectual devices to avoid going where I didn’t want to go.
An Israeli in Palestine: Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel by Jeff Halper