Monday, February 06, 2017

The Restraining Wall

"[Over] 100,000 Germans gathered in Berlin for a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Speaking at a memorial center, Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “We can change things for the better — that is the message of the fall of the Berlin Wall."
"The border between Botswana and Zimbabwe is separated by an electrified fence. Malaysia and Thailand are separated by a wall, as are Saudi Arabia and Iraq, Iran and Iraq, and Kuwait and Iraq."
Rick Noak, The Washington Post

The internationally deplored, detested and utterly condemned wall that Israel, in response to bloody suicide bombings orchestrated against Israelis by Palestinians, is not the only separating wall in the world, but one might think it is, given the public distaste for it internationally, considered by many to be symbolic of 'apartheid', though it is Palestinian society that will not tolerate Jews in their midst while Israel has given citizenship to a million Palestinian Arabs, to Christians, to Druze and to Kurds. The Jewish state is also a pluralist state.

Yet there are separating walls all over the world, and they have been erected for a distinct purpose; to keep people apart, to ensure that their enmities do not result in bloodshed, precisely the reason why Israel submitted to the necessity to build a restraining wall. Because of the presence of that wall the deadly attacks that had destroyed hundreds of innocent lives have been kept to a minimum. Those attacks still occur from time to time, but their frequency has dimmed and the horror of their lethal success has been eliminated.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent patrols alongside members of the California National Guard at the U.S.-Mexico border fence. (Denis Poroy/Associated Press)
There are walls everywhere; a wall separating India from Pakistan; two nations whose suspicion and competing hatred of two nuclear nations living alongside one another represents a tinder box of horrific intensity and frightening potential. There is a wall separating Georgia and South Ossetia, which was once a province of Georgia before Moscow became involved. More, there's plenty more. First off, the most infamous in the public mind:
  • Between Gaza and Israel, which hasn't prevented rockets from hitting Israel;
  • Between Egypt and Gaza, which hasn't stopped Hamas from building smuggling tunnels;
  • Between Israel and the West Bank; the infamous 'apartheid' wall;
  • Between the United States and Mexico;
  • Between North Korea and South Korea;
  • Between India and Bangladesh;
  • Between Bulgaria and Turkey;
  • Between Spain and Morocco;
  • Between two halves of Cyprus, separating the Greeks from the Turks;
  • Between religions in Ireland, separating Catholics from Protestants;
  • Between Morocco and West Sahara;
  • Between sects in Baghdad, separating Sunni and Shia Muslims.
A Spanish Civil Guard officer pulls an African migrant from a border fence as he tries to cross into Spain's North African enclave of Melilla from Morocco on Oct. 15. (Jesus Blasco de Avellaneda/Reuters)

None of those walls is internationally deplored. It is Israel's protective wall and Israel's alone that is held up to contempt and ridicule. There must be a reason that Israel's wall that has succeeded so well in cutting down hugely on the deadly attacks it once reeled under, has caught the world's attention and is so roundly condemned. The barrier veers at places into the West Bank where Israeli settlements have been established, and its presence makes life quite inconvenient for Palestinians.

But of course Palestinian attacks on Jews represents another type of inconvenience altogether.

A picture taken Oct. 26 from the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip shows an Egyptian soldier (background) manning a watch tower on the Egyptian side. (Said Khatib/AFP via Getty Images)

The Intifadas that resulted in those never-endiung episodes of explosive carnage where children, men and women, soldiers, police, lost their lives to the aspirations of suicide bombers resulted from the inability and unwillingness of Palestinian leaders, from Yasser Arafat to Mahmoud Abbas, to negotiate in good faith with Israel to reach an agreement that would lead to peace between the two.

Even that would be difficult to achieve; peace, when the Palestinian leadership sees to it that children are taught through school curricula, television plays, and all manner of other social media sites through specific messages, to hate Jews and to aspire to a future where they can become suicide bombers to wreak vengeance on the interlopers. In Gaza, children are enrolled in training camps to learn combat roles and the handling of weapons.

Islamic State does the same with children living under their tutelage in captured areas of Iraq and Syria; wonder where they got the idea from?

It speaks volumes about perspectives when Israelis refer to the barrier as an "antiterror obstacle", while Palestinians speak of it as an "apartheid" wall, in the case of the latter, for broad international consumption and outrage; in the case of the former, a sign of relief recognition that the barrier ensures a goodly measure of security. There is no denying that the presence of the barrier is solely responsible for a steep decline in terrorist attacks upon Israelis.

Despite the wall, Palestinian labourers who have permits they have applied for from Israel sees over 50,000 Palestinian cross on a daily basis through checkpoints along the 645-kilometer barrier. Not to mention the estimated 60,000 Palestinians without work permits in their possession who manage to get across the barrier anyway, to work in construction, in agriculture, or service industries in Israel.

The barrier that allows those without permits to sneak through also is permeable for those intending to carry out (those less frequent) terrorist attacks.

An Israeli police officer stands guard behind a barrier at the Kissufim checkpoint moments after Israeli troops sealed off the area. Signs in English and Hebrew hang on gates blocking the road into Gaza. (Getty Images/David Silverman)

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