FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Thank You, Your Honors

In a carefully reasoned but unequivocal decision, the International Court of Justice in the Hague did the expected: It found that Israel’s construction of its security wall inside Palestinian territory is illegal according to international law.

As an Israeli deeply concerned about the security of my country, and a Jew deeply concerned about the moral implications of building this barrier, I applaud this decision.

Israel’s security claims in favor of the wall are seriously flawed: As it is now being constructed, the wall does not follow the 1967 border, but rather reaches deep into Palestinian land, a route that will ultimately leave hundreds of thousands of Palestinians on the Israeli side. How will this prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from entering Israel?

On humanitarian grounds, the wall is unconscionable. It prevents Palestinian access to farmland, schools, hospitals and jobs. Picture your children having to wait at the wall twice a day for soldiers to show up and unlock the gate, allowing them to get to and from school. Picture the farmer who made a living from his olive trees, which are now inaccessible or have been felled to make way for construction. Imagine that you suddenly need to see a doctor, but have no permit to get through. Imagine that you simply want to visit your elderly mother, but the wall now comes between you. According to B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization, when the wall is complete, some 38% of Palestinians will find their lives disrupted and their livelihoods discontinued.

The presence of the wall is not only cruel to Palestinians; it will ultimately harm Israeli security as well, as it intensifies the bitterness and hatred directed toward us. Is this the security that the wall will provide?

Unlike Palestinians who can hardly avoid it, most Israelis have never even seen the wall; it is built inside Palestinian territory, where only Israeli settlers (and the soldiers sent to protect them) now venture. If other Israelis saw it, I hope they would be shocked. In several places, the wall does not simply wend through Palestinian towns, it actually surrounds them entirely, penning the residents inside – their right to enter or leave left to the whim of young soldiers guarding the gate.

In these localities, civilian populations are now entirely encircled by a 30-foot-high, gray concrete battlement interrupted only by watchtowers from where soldiers train binoculars and automatic rifles on the residents below. Lights mounted on the wall shine down into the streets, making constant surveillance that much easier. As a Jew whose ancestors were confined to ghettoes during anti-Semitic periods of history, I find this horrifying. Will keeping 100,000 Palestinians penned in ghettoes and enclaves serve the security needs of Israel? Did forcing Jews into the ghettoes of Europe serve the security needs of those countries?

Last week, the Israeli Supreme Court acknowledged the grave violations of Palestinian human rights resulting from the wall, and ordered the army to reroute it in specific locations. While our government is hoping that this Israeli court ruling will make it possible for Israel to ignore the Hague tribunal – on the grounds that “the wall is an internal security matter that we are dealing with” – most Israeli peace activists do not agree. Construction of the wall within Occupied Territory – meaning on somebody else’s property – is a violation of basic rights, no matter how you look at it. And claims that the wall provides security are undercut by the large numbers of Palestinians who will remain on the “Israeli” side.

Ultimately, the best way for my country to achieve security is to negotiate peace with the Palestinians, and sufficiently improve the lives on both sides so that there is a vested interest in maintaining the peace. The wall, however, does just the opposite. As a result, it is not only bad for Palestine, but bad for Israel too.

A few days ago, I watched an old Palestinian woman surveying with dismay her family’s olive trees that the army had cut down, shaving a swath on which the wall will rise. “Those stupid people,” she said, careful not to name them, “If not for their stupidity, we could have lived in peace with each other.”

GILA SVIRSKY is a peace and human rights activist in Jerusalem. She can be reached at gsvirsky@netvision.net.il

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Justin Anderson
Don’t Count the Left Out Just Yet
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
September 20, 2018
Michael Hudson
Wasting the Lehman Crisis: What Was Not Saved Was the Economy
John Pilger
Hold the Front Page, the Reporters are Missing
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail