Podcast: A Conversation with Jeff Halper on Liberal Zionism and Possible Futures

Podcast: A Conversation with Jeff Halper on Liberal Zionism and Possible Futures

In this episode, I am joined by Dr. Jeff Halper. I ask him about the dynamics of the occupation and conflict. He argues for liberal Zionists to reevaluate their positions, and we speak of possibilities for peace in the form of a singular bi-national state. His opinions do not reflect the views of Partners for Progressive Israel.

This is about Dr. Halper, from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions website:

Dr. Jeff Halper is the Co-founder and Director of ICAHD, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. He was born in 1946 in Minnesota and emigrated to Israel in 1973. Since then he has been a tireless advocate for justice and civil rights for all Israelis and Palestinians. He spent ten years as a community worker in Jerusalem aiding low-income Mizrahi families. He co-founded ICAHD in 1997 to help resist Israel’s strategy of house demolitions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. He is the author of three books, “Between Redemption and Revival: The Jewish Yishuv in Jerusalem in the Nineteenth Century”, “An Israeli in Palestine: Resisting Possession, Redeeming Israel”, and “Obstacles to Peace: A Reframing of the Palestinian – Israeli Conflict”. In 2006 Dr. Halper was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, citing ICAHD’s work “to liberate both the Palestinian and the Israeli people from the yoke of structural violence” and “to build equality between their people by recognizing and celebrating their common humanity.”

An Israeli organization that advocates for a Palestinian Right of Return and Jaffa city can be found here: http://zochrot.org. [Click here for a PPI post that discusses Zochrot.]

The book Halper mentions is Mapping My Return by Salman Abu Sitta.

By | 2015-07-07T09:39:52-04:00 July 7th, 2015|Blog, Podcast, The Occupation, Zionism|2 Comments


  1. Ralph Seliger July 15, 2015 at 10:22 am - Reply

    I listened intently. In the guise of anti- or post-Zionism, Dr. Halper is attempting to revive the ideas of bi-nationalist streams that existed within the Zionist movement from the 1920s until Israel’s independence war in 1948 (he calls this “cultural Zionism”); these included one of PPI’s antecedents, Hashomer Hatzair. This was a noble, even heroic, orientation that found no organizational partners on the Palestinian-Arab side, who to this day have a hard time accepting the concept of a Jewish nationality/ethnic identity beyond Judaism as a religion.

    He ignores the decades of violence and oppression since 1948, which make a peaceful one-state solution much less likely than a two-state solution. Neither does he even consider that the failure of Oslo to deliver two states had something to do with extremist violence that took the life of Yitzhak Rabin and murdered over a thousand Israelis in waves of terrorist attacks, which led directly to the election of anti-Oslo prime ministers Netanyahu and Sharon. Even then, it was the tragically misguided choice of Palestinian voters to narrowly elect Hamas in 2006 (largely as an anti-corruption protest), which again underscored that obstacles to peace also exist on the Palestinian side.

    The notion that Israel and Palestine can evolve into a political union that resembles Canada is well-meaning but also incredibly naive. Even more so when Halper speculates on Israel accepting a Palestinian “right of return.” Still, Halper could be both radical and more realistic if he embraced ideas that are already out there, but not framed in ideologically-abrasive terms as attacks on Zionism.

    Bernard Avishai (incidentally, a Canadian-Israeli) is among a number of observers and NGOs who speculate on the need for cooperative elements that may resemble a lose confederation in a final resolution of the conflict. As far back as 2003, the Geneva Accord/Initiative has even laid out a framework that would allow for a “right of return” that emphasizes compensation and resettlement for the original refugees and their descendants into the new Palestinian state and in third countries, as well as some agreed-upon number in what is now Israel.

  2. Ken Brociner July 23, 2015 at 2:15 pm - Reply

    I completely agree with everything that Ralph Seliger says here – but I’d take it a step further.

    What is PPI even doing sponsoring a conversation with someone who has long history of being a vitriolic opponent of Israel’s very right to exist? Furthermore, in the background information provided about Halper, you’d never know that he was anything other than a “peace activist.” Hogwash! And PPI should know better.

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