‘Not in My Name’

Jews Gather to Organize Against Israel’s Crackdown on Palestinians

What is more, argued Jeff Halper, coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, Israel has continued to strengthen its "matrix of control" in the territories. Even during the "peace process," it expanded settlements in the occupied territories and constructed a vast network of Jewish-only bypass roads. While Israel crowed about the generosity of its offer to give up 95 percent of the West Bank, he explained, it was using the remaining 5 percent to hold sway over the economy and natural resources, and over the movement of Palestinians. Think of a prison, he suggested. "There, 95 percent of the space is used for the prisoners—they have cells, exercise yards, work areas, and dining areas. It takes only the other 5 percent to contain and control them."

While Halper described the current situation as "the worst since 1948," his colleague Rela Mazali offered some cause for hope in her presentation about the deep militarization of Israeli society. A founding member of the Israeli feminist organization New Profile and an organizer of various peace and resistance activities against the occupation, Mazali pointed out that 25 percent of 17-year-old Israelis are currently finding excuses not to enlist in the army, though the law requires that they do so, and a full third of those who do enlist find reasons for early discharge. (Conscientious objection is illegal for men in Israel.) Meanwhile, an astonishing 70 percent of reserve soldiers—essentially all Jewish Israeli men up to the age of 49—are simply failing to show up when called for duty. Though they are hardly organized into a coherent movement of draft resistance, Mazali sees their neglect as a tacit rejection of Israeli policy.

Linking up with the Israeli peace movement is one of the most important ways U.S. activists can be effective, Halper insisted. "Peace is not going to come from within Israel," he said. "We can't do it alone."

For further information on the future of Junity, see www.junity.org. For information on the May 20 protest in New York, contact Jews Against the Occupation at jatonyc@yahoo.com.

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