Thursday, February 01, 2007

Alex Stein on the separation wall

Via Engage, by Alex Stein, originally published in Comment is free (source contains internal and external links)

Time for a moment of clarity. The right of Israel to protect its citizens is inalienable. This includes the right to build large walls to keep out terrorists. It doesn't matter how ugly to the eye the wall is, how much it reminds onlookers of cold war era Berlin, all that matters is whether or not it does the job of protecting Israeli lives.

There is, of course, a rub. Article 49 (1949) of the Fourth Geneva Convention unequivocally states: "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies." In other words, the only right that Israel has to protect its citizens that live in occupied territories is to move them back into sovereign, internationally recognised Israel. Israel has every right to build what it wants on its own territory, but not on the territory of others.

Today Ha'aretz reports that the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, has now approved the moving of the separation barrier at least 5km eastward from the Green Line in the area of Modi'in Ilit, in order to take in the settlements of Nili and Na'aleh. These settlements have a combined population of around 1,500 residents. Bringing them under the fence's protective wing will mean creating two Palestinian enclaves of around 20,000 people.

If the cabinet approves the decision, it will be the first time the fence has been moved eastward. A new road will be paved to connect Modi'in Ilit, Nili and Na'aleh with the settlement of Ofarim. Palestinians will not be permitted access to the road, and will instead travel via two tunnels, which will be built under it. The entire project will cost an estimated NIS 120m.

It is astounding that anyone still peddles the myth that the barrier is being constructed solely for security purposes. As should be obvious to anyone, the barrier represents a clear attempt to annex valuable land under the legitimate pretext of security. This is self-evident. All one needs to do is glance at a map or take a walk around Jerusalem.

The task of highlighting these simple facts is made trickier by those on the far-left, who deny that the barrier has any security benefits whatsoever, and is simply being built out of maliciousness. This was reflected in the International Court of Justice's 2004 ruling that the barrier was entirely illegal. While correctly (and indeed elementarily) pointing out that Israel had no right to build a barrier on occupied land, it failed to acknowledge that it has been successful in saving Israeli lives.

Amid these complicated discussions about the barrier, we would do well to take advice from the people of Brobdingnag, the mythical land of giants in Gulliver's Travels. In that land, each law can be no longer than 22 words (the number of letters in the Brobdingnagian alphabet), and commentary on the law is a capital crime. Aside from the fact that Jews would not last long in such a place (Judaism, after all, is one long commentary on the commentary, ad infinitum), such brevity could do our discussions on the separation/apartheid fence/wall/barrier a world of good.

So, to mark the latest government attempt at a land-grab, let's re-state the obvious. "The barrier is a wonderful idea for preventing terrorism. At the same time, it can ensure a just solution for the Palestinians. Place on Green Line." Twenty-six words, just like our alphabet. The Brobdingnagians would be proud of our clarity.


At 10:26 AM, Blogger Greg said...

Gert: what makes you think Israel is not building the wall(and I think it's a bad idea but for different reasons) on its own territory!? And what gives you(or anyone else) decide what "Israeli territory" includes for us?

At 10:27 AM, Blogger Greg said...

btw: how was it? Will be in touch...

At 4:48 PM, Blogger John Brown said...

In other words, Greg, you believe that the simple act of being a Zionist, Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing are perfectly acceptable behavior.

At 11:35 PM, Blogger BaconEating AtheistJew said...

What makes the West Bank land that Jews can't live on? Jordan gave up the rights (even if they had any) in 1987.

Gert, Please read this post. If you see something debatable, I would like to hear your point of view.

John Brown, you are too much of a rhetorical assmonkey retard to get it. Don't bother even looking.

At 6:28 AM, Blogger Greg said...

beaconeating atheist: good points!

At 6:28 AM, Blogger Greg said...

gert: I may have overdone my answer to your query on my site a bit. Sorry if it angered you. That was not my intent.

At 4:40 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Nope, no anger here Greg...

At 6:57 PM, Blogger Greg said...

Okay, just wanted to make sure;)


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