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A Standing Stigmatism of Apartheid

The Wall as a Good Thing?

by PETER HARLEY

Could The Wall be such a bad thing it,s a good thing? I think Israel has created a liability for itself that no amount of publicity can succeed in selling. Moreover, Israel has created a target for peaceful protests that will prove so costly, both in terms of public opinion and in terms of reconstruction shekels, that The Wall will finally be recognized as something that cannot be allowed to stand.

The Wall is a symbol, and the longer it exists, the clearer it will become in world consciousness. It is a symbol of Apartheid, of land theft, of hatred and of ghetto. It will, in all likelihood, serve to accelerate the end of The Occupation.

Of course, the main argument Israel uses for The Wall is ‘Security’, but to call The Wall a security measure is preposterous on its face, because it slices through Palestinian towns and areas, leaving Palestinians on either side.

After two months of living and traveling in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel, I can attest that it is difficult to convey, either photographically or in words, how ugly The Wall is. True, pictures of it abound: cutting through houses, running down the middle of streets, separating villagers from their land, and so on. But until you stand in its deathly, concrete shadow and feel its industrial indifference to human welfare, until you see the high, hateful reality of it despoiling nature for kilometers on end, you cannot fully appreciate how dreadful it is.

Happily, there are little holes in the tops of most of the interlocking, vertical, concrete slabs that comprise it. These holes were used by the cranes that carried the slabs and set them in place. The same holes will serve admirably as points to hook onto it with steel cables and pull: outwards or inwards, by Palestinian and Israeli peace groups. A truck or a tractor on either side of The Wall might lay down any number of concrete slabs and be shown on Television as a force for Good.

But there should be a plan. First of all, it should be announced that The Wall will be attacked from both sides at the time and convenience of the attackers. This will cost the Israeli Government something in additional surveillance. Secondly, it should be made clear that this will be a nonviolent attack, intending no harm to people. This claim will help lay any blame for personal injury or death squarely at the feet of Israel. There should be video cameras covering the attacks and providing news networks with the true story. Ideally, there would be a fund created in advance to support the people who lost equipment or who were arrested. Finally, there should be an intensive effort to cover the trials of those arrested, and their lawyers should make frequent reference to the International Court of Justice opinion against the legality of The Wall.

The Wall is long and probably cannot be defended physically. It certainly cannot be defended morally. As activists repeatedly tear down it, Israel will at first try to guard and rebuild it, but this will be difficult because construction is normally more expensive than destruction.

The Wall is already a focus for Israeli and Palestinian peace groups and, as such, constitutes a unifying force among people devoted to peace and justice in both nations. But as The Wall develops in world consciousness, it will go a long way toward unifying forces of Good in all countries. And when The Wall comes tumbling down, The Occupation will be partly over.

It is one of my fond hopes and expectations that almost everyone will be able to see this monstrosity for what it is. The Wall is monumental error and it is a monument to error. May it soon be erased.

Peter R. Harley lives in Newfoundland. He can be reached at: pharley@nl.rogers.com