Touring the Fence

I toured the fence today, which the Israel Defence Forces calls the anti-terror fence and the Palestinians call the apartheid wall. It is, I must admit, a little of each.
Well, not an apartheid wall. The very fact that so many Arab towns and villages have remained within the fence–that is, connected to main-land Israel–proves that racism is not a factor in the decision-making process. The leader of my tour–a personal one by a captain in the IDF–pointed out that no Arab/Palestinian-Israeli citizen has been cut out of Israel eventhough many Jewish citizens of Israel have been, and that fact bears a lot of weight.
But it is a national boundary, albeit a temporary one, and that by itself is bound to infuriate those who think that Israel must become a binational state by the name of Palestine. And yes, nations tend to dwell apart.
The anti-terror argument does make sense. We stood up in Alfe Menashe, a settlement, and saw the distance between Kalkiliya–a major Palestinian city–and Kfar Saba–a major Israeli city. 10 minutes, walking. That’s all. If there was no terror, that would not present a problem. But when children are taught to kill at an early age, it is a necessary evil. A moral choice between life and absolute freedom of movement.
On the other hand, the harm to the Palestinian population is apparent. It was very hard to see the fence and Kalkiliya behind it, while the residents of Alfe Menashe lived in relative safety and affluence. While the IDF is trying to make it easier for Palestinians to get to and from Kalkilya through a network of tunnels and bypass-roads, it is not enough. Israel simply must find a way to maximize Palestinian access to lands and minimize the harm done to them by a select few. That means removing settlements that do not connect with Israel proper. The Palestinians, as Terje Larsen said, must too find ways to minimize the threat they pose Israeli human beings, which, indirectly, would greatly improve their lot.
Just to conclude, what the fence makes clear is that this Holy Land was not meant to be divided. Political authority can and should represent the separate communities in separate states, but the future will only be healthy for both nations once the borders melt away as they did in the EU. It can happen, but it will only happen once both sides make real steps towards acceptance of the other and true reconciliation.


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