Framed by the account of a transformative experience that jarred the author, after years of activism and peace work, into recognizing the underpinnings of an Israeli national consensus he himself had unconsciously shared, this essay is primarily a reflection on that consensus. Deeply internalized but largely unacknowledged, it is based on the assumption of a self-contained, Jewish-only space created and maintained by what the author calls a “cognitive membrane” that renders “Arabs” entirely irrelevant if not invisible. The mechanisms that make this mindset possible—exclusivity, displacement and replacement (Judaization), and segregation—are described and analyzed. The essay ends with an account of the creation of the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD) as marking a transition from mere protest to engaged resistance, and reflections on the requirements of a true peace.
JEFF HALPER is a founder and the Coordinator of the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and a candidate, with the Palestinian peace activist and intellectual Ghassan Andoni, for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. This essay is excerpted and adapted from his forthcoming book An Israeli in Palestine (Pluto Press).