By Jeff Halper
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Extra resources for An Israeli in Palestine: Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel
So the journey to discover what Israel wants and how I can contribute to the struggle to normalize its existence begins with a single question: Why in the hell did they demolish this family’s home? Halper 01 intro 35 14/12/07 10:16:34 2 The Message of the Bulldozers On 21 August 2003, on the morning of his wedding, As’ad Mu’yin had his house demolished; the house of his cousin Ziad As’ad, who had married a week earlier, was demolished at the same time. The two adjacent houses were in the West Bank town of Nazla ‘Issa.
Now, as I became involved in ICAHD activities with the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, I saw how important it was to go beyond Zionism—which has become quite destructive and racist, as we’ll see—and do what I have been doing all these years: relating to Israel as a real country and not as some ideological construct. Are you a Zionist? I’m often asked. Or a post-Zionist, a neoZionist, an anti-Zionist? The question, for me, is irrelevant. I am an Israeli living in a real country called Israel.
I had reconnected to the “real” Israel without official intermediaries and was being socialized, rather than indoctrinated, by my neighbors and friends. And I was finally free of the dilemma that had come to preoccupy my life in the US: how to integrate a Jewish identity into my daily life. 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.