Wednesday, August 18, 2004
(Via Meryl Yourish) I really didn't know if I should laugh or cry at this:
After European representatives launched a campaign against Israel's separation fence, and voted against Israel at the UN general assembly, the EU is planning a separation fence of its own. The EU plans to build a fence to separate its new members - Poland and Hungary - from its new neighbors - Russia, Belarus and Ukraine - to prevent the free movement of migrants seeking to enter the EU.
To be clear, the EU has every right to build that fence. Whether or not it's sensible policy is another matter. In effect it looks a lot less like Israel's barrier, but the one the US has on its border to Mexico. That was built originally for the same purpose of suppressing illegal migration. But hang in there a moment; it's not just that any more:
President Bush has launched a drive to halt illegal immigration across America's porous southern border, amid growing fears that terrorists may be using Mexico as a base camp before heading to Arizona, Texas and California.
A string of alarming incidents has convinced Bush administration officials that lax immigration rules, designed to cope with the huge numbers of illegal entrants from Mexico, have become a significant loophole in the war on terror.
Over the past month, border agents from Arizona and Texas have anonymously reported recent encounters with dozens of Arab men, who have made their way across the 2,000-mile Mexican border
Well, I think you can guess what's coming next now can't you? Yep, here's Larry Derfner explaining his reluctant acceptance of Israel's barrier:
Maybe it will turn out that Israel's wall is there not only because we can't solve our security problem with the Palestinians but also because we are a middle-class society rubbing up against a poor one. That's a much more deeply rooted problem than even the intifada or the occupation.
Perhaps, and tingling little shudder runs down my spine as I write this, perhaps, Gary Younge was right all along. Actually he isn't. The rich don't create the chaos, but I often feel we don't really do anything against it either. But that would be an honest and balanced argument. Walls all over the place! It all boggles the mind.
But how are these walls protected and patrolled? Via some lengthy link-jumping I just bumped into this photo-album of an Israeli soldier in which he records some scenes at a checkpoint. While some will certainly say this puts a more positive light on the Israeli army's checkpoints and their behaviour there than I would normally have assumed, I think this really underlines the whole insanity of the situation. The whole thing is deeply unpleasant for both sides, but, as is so often the case, normal people try to create themselves some normalcy wherever they are, just to stay sane. And then suddenly, mostly out of the blue, the faux normalcy is ripped to bits by explosions and gunfire.
But leaving political anthropology aside, this photo really caught my attention. Have a look at the byline:
The arab kids like to hang out with Dana
Oh hang on a second...it's actually "along the EU's new eastern border", so not like the Israeli fence through Palestinian lands.
And you need a third hand on your 'odd priorities' page: the Israelis bulldozing the homes of Palestinians in Israeli occupied territories, giving Palestinians nothing to live for and everything to die for.
Anonymous, as for the "odd priorities" posting: I could then equally proceed to provide a fourth hand, then a fifth hand etc. I just decided to draw a line. If you disagree with where I drew the line that's fine, but I'm unwilling to write blog posts that explain precisely complicated political issues down to the last argument. Sorry.
As for the extent of how far the fence goes I took my cue from that Larry Derfner column I linked to. The impression I gained from that was that, with a few exceptions, the wall sticks more or less to the undisputed "Green Line", only jutting over the line to take in large-scale Israeli towns and villages that an eventual peace agreement would give to Israel anyway. (btw, Israel should find some sort of compensation for the hardships the wall is creating and possibly give the Palestinians some land in return for territory taken in by the fence, but that's off topic right now.) Hence I don't think that this is what really drives the animus against Israel's wall.
That is more ideological, and has more to do with the sentiment I soaked up here in the media and society in Germany, which roughly thinks that Israel shouldn't build the wall, but instead just show the Palestinians trust and be more open towards them. That is the political reason behind the EU's opposition to Israel's wall, and that in turn drives its actions in international legal forae. The legal details are more of an afterthought there.
T, I am aware that Israel's wall is sometimes presented as a temporary measure, but I think the examples I gave in my posting make it quite clear that, whatever the reasons (security, economic, crime, etc.) all these fences aren't going anywhere anytime soon. So, that Israeli wall is going to be pretty permanent.
As for your point about disputed territory, it may or may not be correct that in technical-legal terms the West Bank and Gaza are entirely "disputed" rather than "occupied Palestinian" territories. But what political relevance does that have? Politically that is the Palestinian homeland and the Palestinians there are living under Israeli occupation. As I mention above the exact line of the proper, final Israeli-Palestinian border is open for negotiation, but nothing more than that. The Palestinians need somewhere to live after all.
As for your comment about the compensation, you are even more off the mark. The compensation was for Palestinians to alleviate the hardships of the barrier. This is hardly rewarding terrorism, but simple fairness.
Leaving that aside, I notice that you are refusing to make a distinction between terrorists and civilians. Perhaps you think that is more "sof left psycobabble", but in the times we're in, it's both morally and strategically one of the most important distinctions to make. Additionally as a browse through this blog would quickly reveal I am certainly not somebody peddling a "soft" line on terrorism, so you are clutching at straws here. Needless to say I find the way in which you phrase your opinions to be unacceptable. Although I strongly dislike the pro-terrorist cliches implicit in the "cycle of violence"-view, you do have to remember that the occupation makes the average Palestinian more likely to support or at least ignore terrorism.
On the first point it should be unnecessary to say that an argument doesn't get better by making it with expletives, quite the opposite. Additionally it is immature and irritates me no end.
On the second point, you are of course free to gues about me as a person however you want to, but given that we don't know each other that is rather presumptious and, again, immature and stupid. Grow up.
And you know something else? At least I know how to use my computer's spell-checking programme.
In any case I'm shutting comments down here on this site due to a big break in blogging, and let me tell you it gives me some pleasure to deny you this forum for spitting your "opinions". Why don't you stick to lgf?