By Jeff Halper
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Additional resources for An Israeli in Palestine: Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel
What pushed me beyond Zionism into a much more critical but contested and prickly political space was the demolition of Salim’s house. If, as the popular saying has it, a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged, then a post-Zionist is a Zionist who has witnessed a house demolition. The conversion experience was unplanned. ICAHD had been in existence a full year but we had not yet actually seen a demolition. Demolitions are normally done early in the morning, just after the men have left for work, and with no prior warning.
They would come out of the houses we were working on. I didn’t see, with my own eyes, people dying under the blade of the D-9. And I didn’t see houses falling down on live people. But if there were any, I wouldn’t care at all. I am sure people died inside these houses, but it was difficult to see, there was lots of dust everywhere, and we worked a lot at night. I found joy with every house that came down, because I knew they didn’t mind dying, but they cared for their homes. If you knocked down a house, you buried 40 or 50 people for generations.
As if cramming an entire year of worship into an excruciating three days, we were forced to spend the entire two days of Rosh Hashana from morning to night and the entire day of Yom Kippur, on which we fasted diligently, in synagogue. A rabbi was imported and the mind-numbing tediousness of those three grueling days of standing and sitting to recite in unison meaningless prayers in English and Hebrew was made tolerable only by the constant undertone, like low background noise, of the menfolk sharing their fishing news to the consternation of the rabbi and the women.
An Israeli in Palestine: Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel by Jeff Halper