Peacenik's fear over Israel

One of Israel’s leading peace activists has denied that he and others in the peace movement, who have criticised Israel openly, had contributed to the atmosphere in which it was being demonised as an apartheid state.

Jeff Halper, director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), said: “If I were a Jew in London, my big fear would be that Jews in the diaspora would become the next Afrikaaners. Israel says it speaks for all of the Jewish people, so do Jews in the diaspora want to be represented by another country that does things in their name? The Jewish community has to start holding Israel accountable.”

American-born Mr Halper was due to take part in a debate organised by Amnesty International on Wednesday night entitled “Can Obama pull off a two-state solution… and if he can’t?”

Mr Halper went on: “It’s not that I don’t hold the Palestinians accountable — I do. The whole basis of our work is human rights and the Palestinians have to respect human rights as well. Hamas cannot justify attacking civilians.

“However, there is a power differential here. They both have equal responsibility but Israel is one of the world’s strongest military powers and that is why we put more responsibility on her shoulders.”

Mr Halper said he did not view criticism of Israel as demonisation. “Israel has to be held accountable for what it is doing. My view is that Israel is not a victim. It would be if it were this little country being attacked by stronger countries and defending itself.

“But Israel is a strong power that has kept four million Palestinians under occupation for 42 years. More than 24,000 homes have been demolished. This cannot continue for the sake of everyone in the region.”

    Last updated: 10:59am, September 3 2009