FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Israel’s Apartheid Wall on Trial

by NEVE GORDON

Jerusalem.

Imagine a domestic terrorist cell loose in the city. They have already murdered a few people. The intelligence agency claims that members of the black community are harboring them, and their victims are almost always white. Since the city is more or less segregated, the police commissioner decides to erect a 25 foot concrete wall around the different black neighborhoods. All access to and from each neighborhood is blocked, except for a single gate which is open from 7 am to 9 am and then again from 5 pm to 7 pm. Special permits to pass through the gate are distributed to a select few.

The black population is outraged. Their leaders protest the siege and decide to sue the police. In their petition to the court they underscore that the commissioner’s reaction constitutes a form of collective punishment informed by racism. Thousands of innocent men and women cannot reach work, their children cannot attend schools or universities, hospitals are out of bounds, and patients are dying because they do not receive medical care. “Our life has become unbearable,” they say.

A date is set for the trial, but a few days before the hearing, the police commissioner notifies the public that he is unwilling to show up in court. He summons a press conference and tells the reporters that this is a security issue, not a legal one.

This disturbing story is but an analogy of the Israeli and Palestinian positions now being argued at the Hague.

On the one hand, Israel is unwilling to recognize the legitimacy of the International Court of Justice and has concentrated all of its efforts on a public relations campaign. Its major argument is that while the wall is uncomfortable and may lead to inconveniences, one cannot compare a bit of discomfort with the deaths of innocent lives. The security of its citizens, the Israeli government argues, is more important.

To make its point clear, Israel has brought a shattered bus — the remains of a bloody suicide attack — to the Hague. Parents whose children have been murdered have been flown in, as has an entourage of university students. Their goal is to convincingly present Israel’s position, which can be summed up in four words: We are the victims.

The Palestinian delegation, on the other hand, has filed a well-documented petition against the wall, claiming that Israel is using the terrorist attacks as pretence to strangle a whole population. Israel’s true goal, they argue, is to undermine the Palestinian infrastructure of existence and to undercut the possibility of creating a viable Palestinian State. The wall for them is a catastrophe, a weapon of dispossession, expropriation and expulsion whose major target is the civilian population. Not unlike the terrorists, it also makes no distinction between civilians and combatants.

Israel’s campaign is informed by two major fallacies. First, it conveniently ignores the fact that the wall is not being built on the 1967 border (which is the internationally recognized one), but rather deep inside Palestinian territory. Why cut through towns and villages, destroy and confiscate fields and olive groves, separate between farmers and their lands, between the sick and hospitals if the objective is security? If security were indeed the goal, wouldn’t it be more logical to erect the wall between Israel and the West Bank, and not inside the West Bank?

Second, Israel like every other country has both the right and obligation to defend the lives of its citizens. The major reason the Israeli government is failing to protect its citizenry is not because it isn’t building the wall fast enough, as Israel’s Chief of Staff claimed after the last suicide bombing. Nor can the blame be put on its military, which is by far the most powerful one in the Middle East.

The major reason Israeli citizens are not safe is because the government has decided to continue the 37 year-old occupation and oppression of another people. The only way Israelis and Palestinians will ever be safe is if Israel ends the very occupation that this separation wall intends to perpetuate by confiscating more and more land.

Like the imaginary wall built in the midst of a city to protect it from terrorists, the real wall that is now being built in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is both immoral and impractical. It is, accordingly, inimical to Israel’s own interests. Paradoxically, then, if the International Court of Justice rules in favor of the Palestinians, it will also be ruling in Israel’s interests, for it is in Israel’s long-term and therefore true interests that the Court find it guilty.

NEVE GORDON teaches politics at Ben-Gurion University, Israel, and can be reached at neve_gordon@yahoo.com

 

 

Neve Gordon is the co-author (with Nicola Perugini) of the newly released The Human Right to Dominate.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 18, 2017
Gary Leupp
The Extraordinary Array of Those Questioning Trump’s Legitimacy (and Their Various Reasons)
Charles Pierson
Drone Proliferation Ramps Up
Chris Floyd
Infinite Jest: Liberals Laughing All the Way to Hell
Stansfield Smith
Obama’s Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Ron Leighton
Trump is Not Hitler: How the Misuse of History Distorts the Present as Well as the Past
Ralph Nader
An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
NATO and Obsolescence: Donald Trump and the History of an Alliance
Zarefah Baroud
‘The Power to Create a New World’: Trump and the Environmental Challenge Ahead
Julian Vigo
Obama Must Pardon the Black Panthers in Prison or in Exile
Alfredo Lopez
The Whattsapp Scandal
Clancy Sigal
Russian Hacking and the Smell Test
Terry Simons
The Truth About Ethics and Condoms
January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump. It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
Kenneth Surin
The Neoliberal Stranglehold on the American Public University
Lawrence Davidson
Is There a Future for the Democratic Party?
Douglas Valentine
Who Killed MLK Jr?
Robert Fisk
The Foreign Correspondent in the Age of Twitter and Trump
Dale Bryan
“Where Do We Go from Here?”
David Swanson
The Deep State Wants to Deep Six Us
Dan Bacher
Obama Administration Orders Speedy Completion of Delta Tunnels Plan
Mark Weisbrot
Obama Should Make Sure that Haitian Victims of UN-Caused Cholera are Compensated
Winslow Myers
The Light of the World
Bruce Mastron
My Latest Reason to Boycott the NFL: Guns
Weekend Edition
January 13, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Gregory Elich
Did the Russians Really Hack the DNC?
Jeffrey St. Clair
The President Who Wasn’t There: Barack Obama’s Legacy of Impotence
Anthony DiMaggio
Ethics Fiasco: Trump, Divestment and the Perversion of Executive Politics
Joshua Frank
Farewell Obummer, Hello Golden Showers
Paul Street
Hit the Road, Barack: Some Farewell Reflections
Vijay Prashad
After Aleppo: the State of Syria
John Wight
Russia Must be Destroyed: John McCain and the Case of the Dodgy Dossier
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail