MEMO interviewed Israeli peace activist and author Jeff Halper about his latest book: Decolonizing Israel, Liberating Palestine: Zionism, Settler Colonialism and the Case for One Democratic State. The Israeli academic and activist was asked about his personal intellectual journey which led him to becoming an anti-Zionist campaigner before moving onto the themes of his book.
Halper was asked to comment on the title of the book. Was he calling for a revolution or a restoration? Before the Zionist takeover of historic Palestine, the secular democratic one-state model, which Halper was advocating, was the dominant idea challenging the ethnic religious model of the state advocated by Jewish settlers.
Halper explained why he thinks the usual framing of the dispute as a “conflict’ was incorrect and why there was a need to reframe the issue as settler colonialism. He also answered questions about the rebranding of Zionism as a movement of self-determination of the Jewish people. It was pointed out that the founders of Israel didn’t view it as such and on the contrary they never shied away from admitting that the project they envisaged was a settler-colonial movement and not one for national self-determination.
Halper answered questions regarding key terms in his book such as “dominance management regime” and “summoning power”. Both ideas are central to the decolonisation process envisaged in his book.
With Halper’s vision requiring buy in from Palestinians and Israelis, he explained if he thinks there is appetite to recast the conflict as a settler colonial project and, with the two-state solution now an unviable prospect, what key constituencies need to be convinced that a one-state democratic model is the only viable option on the table.