Thursday, January 1, 2004
They Build Walls, Don't They?
Every brick, another lie, ascends towards the darkening sky
The United States has made it clear that it does not intend to deal with Israel's nuclear capabilities now. "I don't think there will be a change in policy toward Israel in the nuclear field," a senior American official said this week. "The Arabs will raise the issue, and Israel will need to find a way to explain its policy. But we understand that as long as Israel is facing Arab rejectionism from so many directions, the way to deal with this is via quiet discussions."
According to this official, the U.S. will adhere to its long-standing policy of urging all countries to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), but will in practice recognize Israel as a special case. Washington and Jerusalem have an understanding dating back to 1969 that as long as Israel maintains "ambiguity" and does not openly declare itself a nuclear power, the U.S. will not force it to join the NPT (which would mean destroying its nuclear capabilities). Though the UN General Assembly demands every year by a large majority that Israel must sign the treaty and dismantle its capabilities - the latest such decision passed this month by a vote of 162-4, with 10 abstentions - these resolutions have merely declarative value.
The news over the last two weeks assaulted us with bleak clarity: Iraq’s Saddam Hussein meekly surrendered to American troops as he crawled out of a hole in the ground; Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi quietly agreed to surrender his unconventional weapons to international inspectors; and Israel’s Ariel Sharon declared in a speech that he will, in effect, do in Palestine what he darn well pleases, and what the devil are Arabs going to do about it anyhow?
Bleak indeed, for it all makes a statement about how at the center of the Arab world’s material life today is a profound deadness of spirit — a torrential frenzy of words at the surface, but at the heart, a queer silence.
In other words, terrorist groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine never stopped trying to blow up Israelis.
Israelis have just been better at stopping them.
Every time there was a "hot alert" - intelligence information about a would-be bomber on the loose - police work helped track him down. On a typical day, there have been dozens of alerts.
One reason for the recent successes in stopping terrorists, said Dichter, is the fence Israel is building along the West Bank. To get into Israel, a would-be bomber has to make a longer trip.
Israeli officials also believe the reason the bombers have not stopped is simple - Yasser Arafat won't let his prime minister, Ahmed Qureia, meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon because that could lead to progress in the peace "road map."
"Good fences make good neighbors," wrote the poet Robert Frost. Israel and Palestine are certainly not good neighbors, and there is an urgent need, both in practice and in principle, to establish a border between them. I mean a border with defensive and barrier devices, open only at crossings established by mutual consent. Such a border will protect the two sides from each other, help stabilize their relations and, especially, require them to internalize, once and for all, the concept of a border. It's a vague, elusive and problematic concept for both, since they've lived for the last 100 years without clear boundaries, with constant invasion, each within, on top of, over and under the other.
Yet it is very dangerous to establish such a border fence right now, unilaterally, without a peace agreement. It is yet another precipitate action aimed at giving the Israeli public a temporary illusion of security; its main effect will be to supply Israelis with a counterfeit replacement for a peace process.
Ron Nahman is adamant that the fence will eventually go around his urban settlement.
The Likud mayor of a spotlessly clean city of 18,000, Nahman declares first that Ariel doesn’t really need a fence at all. The way to fight terror, he says, pointedly quoting President Bush, "is to smash the terrorists and those who harbor and finance them, not to put up fences." But, he continues, "on the basis of equality, if Mr. Moti Dalgo, head of the southern Sharon regional council, gets a fence, I want a fence too." Moreover, he says, the Americans, fighting terror all over the world, are the last ones who should be preaching to Israel. "If there had been a fence here, that kid would not have been killed on the road," he says -- referring to the murder of Erez Hersh-kowitz at the Ariel bus stop.
Finally, Nahman remarks that "the left has made a political issue of the fence" -- ensuring that it is perceived as an eventual border. For that reason, Nahman and the rest of the right want it
to encompass Ariel and as many other settlements as possible. "When peace comes," Nahman concludes with a smile, "the fences will come down."
What must be done is to bring down the wall and rally all the forces that can be mobilized to that end. The most powerful element to make this plan succeed is putting an end of terror and suicide attacks. Regardless of whether the wall is designed to prevent terror, as the Israelis say, or as a pretext to absorb additional territories, as the Palestinians say, terror has to end. This is what will make it possible to mobilize the Israeli public opinion against the wall and against absorption of territories. Only then will the Palestinians gather the means they don't have today to the right they already have.
Israel must embark on unilateral disengagement from the Palestinians and establish a system of security fences. Israel's very future depends on this. Only such a border could secure a solid Jewish majority inside Israel for generations to come, and in so doing secure Israel as a democracy and its identity as a Jewish state.
If Israel does not find the way to disengage from the Palestinians, its future might resemble the experience of Belfast or Bosnia — two communities bleeding each other to death for generations. Alternatively, if we do not disengage from the Palestinians, Israel might drift toward an apartheid state. Obviously it is better to reach disengagement by consent through an agreement. But Israel cannot impose a readiness to make peace upon Mr. Arafat. The absence of a partner should not paralyze Israel from taking defensive steps in order to protect its own vital interests, which will determine its identity and future.
The disengagement would be implemented gradually over several years. The fence would take in seven settlement areas — three of them near Jerusalem — that now make up over 13 percent of the West Bank. Currently, within these settlement blocks live 80 percent of the settlers. Israel will also need a security zone along the Jordan River and some early warning stations, which combined will cover another 12 percent, adding up to 25 percent of the West Bank.
Shall we buy a new guitar?
Pink Floyd, Empty Spaces, The Wall, November 30, 1979
In his report for the UN Commission on Human Rights, Mr Dugard warned that the wall would incorporate "substantial areas" of the West Bank into Israel.
"The evidence strongly suggests that Israel is determined to create facts on the ground amounting to de facto annexation," the report said.
He said about 210,000 Palestinians living in the area between the wall and Israel, would be cut off from social services, schools and places of work.
"This is likely to lead to a new generation of refugees or internally displaced people," he said.
Mr Dugard said Israel's security concerns "cannot be denied", but said "some limit must be placed on the violation of human rights in the name of counter-terrorism".
The Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign sees its role as dual, as both a national coordinating effort and as a voice for and by the local communities affected by the building of the Wall. The national effort is based on the knowledge that the Wall is an integral and large scale part of Israel’s plans to confiscate and annex Palestinian lands, isolate Palestinian communities, and deny any prospects for survival in their villages and homes. The Wall is therefore not only the negation of Palestinian national aspirations and right to self-determination, but also a tool in the creeping “transfer” of the population and the realization of the Zionist/Israeli expansionist plans.
While the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign sees its work as focused on the struggle against the Wall, it acknowledges that the construction of the Wall cannot be taken out of the historical and political context of the Israeli Occupation of Palestine.
In addition, the Campaign sees the Palestinian struggle as closely connected with national and international struggles worldwide that revolve around national, cultural, economic, social, and indigenous rights, including the anti-globalization movement and other anti-colonial movements.
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