Thursday, July 22, 2004

Israelis use unfounded arguments to justify Wall


By Ray Hanania

What are the main arguments in defense of Israel's wall, which was recently ruled "illegal" by the International Court of Justice?

Well, according to Israel's former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has a right to build a wall in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem because those territories are not "occupied," as Palestinians and the world claim, but "disputed."

Therefore, Netanyahu recently wrote in The New York Times (July 13, 2004), international laws do not apply.

Israel is building the wall, which it calls a "fence," not on the border that separates the "disputed" lands from Israel, but on the "disputed" lands. This divides the "disputed" lands and allows part of the "disputed" lands to be merged with Israel.

In other words, Israel is expanding its borders, which is exactly the strategic goal Netanyahu has advocated all of his political life. Netanyahu and others assert Israel needs the wall to separate "Israelis" from Palestinians.

You see, Israel allowed Israeli Jews to enter the "disputed" lands to create settlements. They did so by confiscating lands belonging to Palestinians. So, they say, they can't build the wall on the 1948 border that separated Israel from the Palestinian areas after the U.N. Partition Plan failed. They have to build it on the "disputed" lands because they built settlements there and need to encircle them to protect them from Palestinians, too.

One solution would be to remove the settlements, but Israel doesn't really want to do that. It undermines their real goal: land confiscation and annexation. Israel is not so much about justice as it is about land expansion.

Even though Israel claims the occupied lands are "disputed," they make no reference to the fact that the dispute involves national sovereignty, not property rights. All of the lands in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and even East Jerusalem are owned, legally, by real people, who all happen to be Palestinian.

Trivial details to most Israelis, but the core of the conflict for Palestinians, who happen to be Christian and Muslim, and not Jewish.

There are other moral issues that expose Israel's illogical arguments on the wall. For example, one Israeli, Jacob Amir of Jerusalem, wrote in The New York Times (July 14, 2004), "That fence has no political meaning. It can be demolished or moved at any time. But as long as the murderous terror continues, the fence will stay in place."

We know that logic is not logic at all when it comes to Israel. What Amir contends regarding the wall was long ago also argued about the Israeli settlements. "They are temporary." "They can be dismantled" -- once the Palestinians accept Israel's right to exist.

Palestinians accepted Israel's right to exist in 1993, in a signed document. And although final details of peace faced some serious hurdles, the fact is none of any of the settlements built since 1967 has been dismantled, demolished or removed.

In fact, the settlements continue to grow.

This is a part of what Israelis wink and nod about to each other. It's called the fait accompli. They simply create facts, like settlements or the wall, and assert they are only temporary. But temporary turns into months, then years, then decades, and soon, the legality of the illegal structures and land confiscation becomes moot.

Finally, when the emptiness of their logic becomes evident, Israelis often create a straw dog argument that might be reasonable if it were true.

Rabbi Joel Berman, writing to The New York Times from Boardman, Ohio, makes the most incredulous claim: "Has anyone noticed that while many Israeli voices, including the Israeli Supreme Court, have decided that some of the separation barrier needs changing (mark of debate, signal of democracy), not a single Palestinian voice is heard saying 'It is wrong to send suicide-homicide bombers to Israel'?" Rabbi Berman shares the problem of most Israelis. Or maybe, it's less of a problem and more of a strategy on their part.

Palestinians denounce suicide bombings all the time. As one of the few Palestinian nationally syndicated columnists, I do all the time. But I am far from alone.

So why doesn't Rabbi Berman hear our voices? Because he doesn't want to. It's easier for him to defend Israel's illegal actions and violations of the international rule of law if he can say that Palestinians are immoral, unethical and violent.

If he had to admit that Palestinians in fact do denounce suicide bombings, it would pretty much destroy his argument. And that has always been a problem driving the Palestine-Israel conflict.

Very few Israelis really care about what the Palestinians are saying. They never wanted to accept the fact that we existed in the first place, and only accepted our existence when the Palestinian revolution used violence.

You can't blame violence on someone who doesn't exist. But you can distort reality and all the facts. It makes it easier for them to point a finger of blame.

It's always someone else's fault. Never Israel's.

To find out more about Ray Hanania, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at

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