teleSUR, 27 April 2015 **** Front Page

Countering Israel's Apartheid Regime: ICAHD Rebuilding Camp

By Bruno Jäntti

The Israeli Jewish political mainstream is beginning to resort to openly fascist language. In Israel, there will be no change from within. Only pressure from the Palestinians and international civil society can alter the Israeli modus operandi.

ICAHD summer rebuilding camp 2015 is approaching. ICAHD, short for Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, is an Israeli peace and human rights organization that campaigns to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. In our own words, we at ICAHD seek “to end Israel's Occupation over the Palestinians.” More specifically, “ICAHD takes as its main focus, as its vehicle for resistance, Israel's policy of demolishing Palestinian homes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and within Israel proper.”

ICAHD Rebuilding Camp brings together Palestinians, internationals and Israelis for an intense two week endeavor the aim of which is to rebuild a home of a Palestinian family, deepen the campers' understanding of the Israel-Palestine conflict and to train political activists for long-term political action.

The camps are a core ICAHD tactic. We at ICAHD are of the opinion that direct non-violent resistance — which takes different forms in different circumstances — is a key component in the battle against Israeli occupation and apartheid.

What apartheid?

For Palestinians struggling for the realization of their right to self-determination, Israel's military reign over the Palestinian territories is a tough nut to crack, for it encompasses much more than just the presence of Israeli soldiers. Let us consider the situation in the West Bank. In terms of planning and costs, Israel's goal of transferring over a half a million of its Jewish citizens to illegal West Bank settlements has been an effort of monumental proportions. Indeed, it is all but surprising that Israel is not dismantling its occupation easily.

The settlement project has led to a situation which is not quite identical with many other belligerent occupations. Besides the obvious aim of crushing any challenges by the Palestinians in the West Bank to Israel's military presence in the area, the Israeli authorities have brought about a situation in which the primary task of the Israeli military and other state organs is to enforce and protect a certifiable apartheid regime.

Hence, Israel's mission in the OPT encompasses much more than just protecting the occupation itself. In the course of the progression of the settlement endeavor, beginning in the late 1960s, a central task of the Israeli military has been to secure and consolidate the war crime of settlement infrastructure.

The Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa released a report which thoroughly investigates the characteristics of Israel's policy in the OPT. An illuminative excerpt from the report clarifies their findings. The acronym ICERD refers to International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

"Israel has also introduced a system of apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territories. As the precedent of Namibia demonstrates, a State may breach the prohibition of apartheid in territory that lies beyond its borders but which is under its jurisdiction. International law defines apartheid not as isolated acts of unlawful racial discrimination but rather as a system of acts designed to establish and maintain the domination of one racial group over another. In the OPT, Jewish and Palestinian identities function as racial identities in the sense provided by ICERD, the Apartheid Convention, and the jurisprudence of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia. Israel's domestic laws and institutions are channelled into the OPT to convey special rights and privileges to Jewish settlers while denying fundamental rights and freedoms to Palestinians. Domination by the Jewish group is associated principally with transferring control over land in the OPT to exclusively Jewish use, dividing the population of the territory into Jewish and Palestinian enclaves, and restricting movement on discriminatory grounds and disadvantaging Palestinians in all areas of economic, social and political life. This discriminatory treatment cannot be justified or excused on grounds of citizenship. Consequently, this study finds that the State of Israel exercises control in the OPT with the purpose of maintaining a system of domination by Jews over Palestinians and that this system constitutes a breach of the prohibition of apartheid."

Israel's is the world's most militarized state. Its political culture keeps shifting further to the right, to the extent that the Israeli Jewish political mainstream is beginning to resort to openly fascist language. In Israel, there will be no change from within. Only pressure from the Palestinians and international civil society can alter the Israeli modus operandi.

International participation is vital for ICAHD's resistance

ICAHD director Jeff Halper, one of the foremost Israeli dissidents and veteran political activists, told an interviewer on one of our previous camps: “We had internationals, we had Palestinians, but we had no Israelis, not even activists. They just don't come. It's not on their agenda.”

Halper was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Besides an impressive life's work of quality research and analysis, Halper has brought hundreds of international volunteers to the OPT for altogether 12 rebuilding camps. In his late 60s, he is still rebuilding with us youngsters.

For ICAHD, international participants are a crucial enabler of our year-around work. If you are interested in doing something tangible and contributing to a just solution in Israel-Palestine, contact ICAHD and join our rebuilding efforts.


The archive : Bruno Jäntti , Middle East , Ramzy Baroud , Noam Chomsky , Robert Fisk , Moshé Machover


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