War Against the People: a timely jolt to spur civil society action

Jeff Halper's book, War Against the People

Global pacification, the matrix of control and other nasties

By Stuart Littlewood

If you want something to scare the pants off you this Christmas ask Santa for this excellent book.

The author, Jeff Halper, is an American-Israeli Jew who trained as an anthropologist, joined the anti-Vietnam war movement and eventually moved to Israel. He is widely known to activists in the struggle for Palestinian freedom as the director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition (ICAHD).This is an extraordinary organisation that resists the illegal Israeli occupation by often standing in the way of the bulldozers sent to destroy Palestinian homes, then rebuilding them – as a political act. Halper has been arrested eight times for civil disobedience towards demolition bulldozers. He was also arrested after breaking the sea blockade of Gaza.

ICAHD also provides education materials and organises study tours and fact-finding missions. It reports to the UN and works with other human rights groups “to present legal challenges to Israeli actions and policies in the occupied Palestine territory”.

The book paints a frightening picture of a largely unseen world of state-of-the-art nastiness.

More than 46,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished in the occupied territory since 1967, says ICAHD, and more than 120,000 in the entire country since 1948. ICAHD recently completed its 189th rebuild in a programme stretching back years and including many volunteers from around the world.

The book paints a frightening picture of a largely unseen world of state-of-the-art nastiness. Halper asks, for example, how the European Union’s continual upgrading of its relations with Israel, including the funding of a major weapons project through its Horizon 2020 programme, can be explained solely by guilt over the holocaust. How does one account for NATO’s designation of Israel as a major non-NATO ally? And how does Israel come to be accepted into the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the exclusive club of advanced economies, when its human rights record would normally exclude it?

Here is the story, in detail, of how Israel’s subjugation of the Palestinians and brutal occupation of their territory works to the huge benefit of the Zionist regime and to the advantage of its Western clients; and why the West is in no hurry to end Israel’s criminality and impunity.

The fact is, the illegal occupation represents an important resource. Firstly, it provides a testing ground for the development of weapons, security systems, models of population control and tactics. Secondly, being a major military power in its own right and able service other militaries and security services gives Israel an international status it wouldn’t otherwise enjoy. Without the occupation and the obscene programme of manipulation and experimentation on its captive Palestinians, how could Israel build up its unique know-how and sustain a strong international standing?

“Hybrid” wars

Halper also talks of “hybrid” wars and how, these days, major military powers are threatened by non-state actors who are mobile, able to access a wide range of weapons, are not confined to any particular battlefield and can wreak havoc in population centres far from their point of origin. “Irregular methods – terrorism, insurgency, unrestricted warfare, guerrilla war or coercion by narco-criminals – are increasing in both scale and sophistication and will challenge US security interests globally.”

These enemies are formless and do not adopt normal structures. Nor do they threaten directly the territory of major states but target their people, assets and way of life. They mingle with the population and are sometimes embedded in the fabric of society, and that is where the battle must be fought.

“The global pacification industry”

Halper also turns his spotlight on “the global pacification industry” and explains how Israel has developed niches in the pacification market in order to gain international status. Israel’s direct experience in conventional warfare with Arab countries and exercises with NATO, the US and others, its tangential involvement in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, and its long experience of irregular warfare with the Palestinians, has resulted in Israel producing an array of what Halper calls “securocratic” systems that puts them “at the table” with major arms companies and militaries.

Thanks to its involvement in the internal security operations of other countries Israel “has an unparalleled degree of securocratic reach throughout the world-system”.

Israel offers pacification solutions such as the matrix of control which it imposed on the Palestinians over 60 years ago and has sharpened ever since. This is reinforced by Israel’s well honed skills in propaganda and image control. The regime’s trick of reframing the narrative and casting itself as the victim defending against threats to its security while playing the aggressor is what Halper calls framing and lawfare. It breaks every rule in the international law book, but nobody seems to mind.

War Against the People looks inside Israel’s trade in military and security products and shows how these activities are converted into political clout. Thanks to its involvement in the internal security operations of other countries Israel “has an unparalleled degree of securocratic reach throughout the world-system”. How does Israel get away with it? asks Halper. Well, read his book to find out.

Strategic activism and counter-hegemony

Halper says activists now need to raise their game to the level of “counter-hegemony” and come up with a well-informed vision around which to mobilise an effective campaign. To this end he reveals that he’s involved in establishing an Institute for Strategic Activism to provide the infrastructure for counter-hegemony.

War Against the People exposes the evil intent behind Israel’s occupation and creeping annexation. It aims to arm activists with sufficient knowledge about global pacification and the way it supports the world-system for them to formulate an effective anti-security and counter-hegemony agenda.

This book is the ultimate antidote to Christmas. Read it while the good and the great in Western Christendom gorge themselves on Christmas fare without a single thought for the misery of the “little town of Bethlehem”…

I have twice visited Jeff Halper’s offices in Jerusalem and been taken on one of ICAHD’s “alternative” tours of occupation hot-spots to see first-hand the “irreversible facts on the ground” created by Israel’s demolition programme and squatter policy and the matrix of control at work. But none of this quite prepared me for the horror of Halper’s latest revelations.

This book is the ultimate antidote to Christmas. Read it while the good and the great in Western Christendom gorge themselves on Christmas fare without a single thought for the misery of the “little town of Bethlehem” which sits in tortured isolation, ringed by the soul-destroying ugliness of Israel’s 8-metre concrete separation wall with its gun towers, and the steel cattle-pen structures through which humiliated Muslims and Christians are forced to queue endlessly to reach the outside world. Those obscene barriers are necessary, so we’re told, to defend against threats to Israel’s precious “security”.

It is not difficult to imagine what a wretched Christmas awaits the starving, shivering children of Gaza, still living among the ruins of their bombed-out homes, and by communities right across the West Bank now fragmented and separated from friends and family by Israel’s merciless matrix of control. There is so much to learn about the hideous consequences of Israel’s occupation and theft of the Holy Land – before it’s too late.


War Against the People is published by PlutoPress at £14.99

Print Friendly