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:

November 13, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Midterm Results are Challenging Racism in America in Unexpected Ways
Victor Grossman
Germany on a Political Seesaw
Cillian Doyle
Fictitious Assets, Hidden Losses and the Collapse of MDM Bank
Lauren Smith
Amnesia and Impunity Reign: Wall Street Celebrates Halliburton’s 100th Anniversary
Joe Emersberger
Moreno’s Neoliberal Restoration Proceeds in Ecuador
Carol Dansereau
Climate and the Infernal Blue Wave: Straight Talk About Saving Humanity
Dave Lindorff
Hey Right Wingers! Signatures Change over Time
Dan Corjescu
Poetry and Barbarism: Adorno’s Challenge
Patrick Bond
Mining Conflicts Multiply, as Critics of ‘Extractivism’ Gather in Johannesburg
Ed Meek
The Kavanaugh Hearings: Text and Subtext
Binoy Kampmark
Concepts of Nonsense: Australian Soft Power
November 12, 2018
Kerron Ó Luain
Poppy Fascism and the English Education System
Conn Hallinan
Nuclear Treaties: Unwrapping Armageddon
Robert Hunziker
Tropical Trump Declares War on Amazonia
John W. Whitehead
Badge of Shame: the Government’s War on Military Veterans
Will Griffin
Military “Service” Serves the Ruling Class
John Eskow
Harold Pinter’s America: Hard Truths and Easy Targets
Rob Okun
Activists Looking Beyond Midterm Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Mid-Term Divisions: The Trump Take
Dean Baker
Short-Term Health Insurance Plans Destroy Insurance Pools
George Wuerthner
Saving the Buffalohorn/Porcupine: the Lamar Valley of the Gallatin Range
Patrick Howlett-Martin
A Note on the Paris Peace Forum
Joseph G. Ramsey
Does America Have a “Gun Problem”…Or a White Supremacy Capitalist Empire Problem?
Weekend Edition
November 09, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Louis Proyect
Why Democrats Are So Okay With Losing
Andrew Levine
What Now?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Chuck and Nancy’s House of Cards
Brian Cloughley
The Malevolent Hypocrisy of Selective Sanctions
Marc Levy
Welcome, Class of ‘70
David Archuleta Jr.
Facebook Allows Governments to Decide What to Censor
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Zika Scare: a Political and Commercial Maneuver of the Chemical Poisons Industry
Nick Pemberton
When It Comes To Stone Throwing, Democrats Live In A Glass House
Ron Jacobs
Impeach!
Lawrence Davidson
A Tale of Two Massacres
José Tirado
A World Off Balance
Jonah Raskin
Something Has Gone Very Wrong: An Interview With Ecuadoran Author Gabriela Alemán
J.P. Linstroth
Myths on Race and Invasion of the ‘Caravan Horde’
Dean Baker
Good News, the Stock Market is Plunging: Thoughts on Wealth
David Rosen
It’s Time to Decriminalize Sex Work
Dan Glazebrook
US Calls for a Yemen Ceasefire is a Cynical Piece of Political Theatre
Jérôme Duval
Forced Marriage Between Argentina and the IMF Turns into a Fiasco
Jill Richardson
Getting Past Gingrich
Dave Lindorff
Not a Blue Wave, But Perhaps a Foreshock
Martha Rosenberg
Dangerous, Expensive Drugs Aggressively Pushed? You Have These Medical Conflicts of Interest to Thank
Will Solomon
Not Much of a Wave
Nicolas J S Davies
Why Yemeni War Deaths are Five Times Higher Than You’ve Been Led to Believe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail