“Something there is that doesn’t love a Wall”
— Robert Frost
By building a cowardly protective diplomatic wall to shield his Israeli bosses, thus denying statehood and freedom to Palestinians, the Obama Administration’s December 30, 2014, arm twisting and shameful vote at the U.N.’s Security Council on a time-table for ending Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine has sealed the fate of Palestinians and doomed them to a future of certain occupation, harsher brutality, more exploitation, and further expulsions.
In effect, Mr. change we can believe in has just helped hammer the last nails in the coffin of a future Palestinian state.
History could have served as a moral lesson for Drone King Obama and his minions.
Standing behind protective bullet proof glass and in close proximity to Germany’s Reichstag and the iconic Brandenburg Gate, on June 12, 1987, Ronald Reagan uttered the following words: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
Just over two years later, on 11/9/1989, the Berlin Wall fell down to the cheers of millions around the world, and Berlin’s 18th century neoclassical Doric style triumphal arch, the Brandenburg Gate, the majestic gateway to Germany’s capital, would once again bear testimony to that sacred credo that “All men are endowed with an inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
In 2014 two historic events were celebrated with joyous commemorations: the twenty-fifth anniversary of the 1989 Fall of the Berlin Wall and the fiftieth anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in the U.S. will no doubt be chronicled as two significant milestones in human history as momentous events equal in magnitude to the 1215 Magna Carta, the 1834 Emancipation Act, and Neil Armstrong’ 1969 landing on the moon.
While the iron curtain has been falling down precipitously and more democracies have sprouted across the globe, Israel, “America’s darling, the only democracy in the Middle East, and America’s most dependable U.S. ally,” has been very industriously building walls in and around Palestine that have institutionalized apartheid and racism. The building of the projected 435 mile (more than 3/4th finished) Wall of Separation/Apartheid, compliments of hard earned US taxpayer dollars to the tune of 2.3 billion dollars, has gone unabated and unopposed for well over 25 years. What will amount to 5.3 million dollars per mile would be akin to building similar walls from San Jose to San Diego, CA, and from Geneva, Switzerland, to London. This does not take into account the wall of separation (land and Sea) boxing in 1.8 million Gazans (in an area that is not quite twice the size of Washington, DC) in the largest open air prison on the face of this earth.
Like blood thirsty Romans at a coliseum kill fest, last summer, for entertainment, Israelis set lawn chairs on the Tel Aviv beach to watch their brave gladiators rain fiery hell to obliterate schools, hospitals, shelters, mosques, churches, high-rise residences, U.N. shelters, power, water, and sewage treatment plants and just about anything that walked in the ghettoized Gaza Coliseum. Entire neighborhoods were pulverized to rubble, and whole families (as many as 25 in the Abu Jame’ family, 18 of whom were children — ranging from infants to grandparents) were slaughtered in cold blood while the world silently watched.
And change we can believe in Obama? As he’s repeatedly done since assuming the Presidency, he tucked his tail between his legs and cowered in the corner, checkmated, yet again, by Bibi Netanyahu. Clicking his heels and saluting, Obama’s response was a submissive “Yesss, Sir, Bosss! New weapons shipments are on their way, special delivery, just as you tole me, Bosss.”
Add insult to injury, 74% of the West Bank roads are dotted with Berlin-like check points in the form of road gates, guard rails, tunnels, concertina wire, trenches, earth walls and mounds much like barriers placed on farms and slaughter lots to isolate sheep into restrictive controlled spaces. Regrettably, many Israelis merely perceive Palestinians as wild, un-kosher terrorist beasts to be tamed, beaten, shot, banished and sometimes exterminated. Official Israeli government and military statements bear witness to the bureaucratic vituperative and racist rhetoric uttered last summer by some ministers and academicians calling for the extermination of the people of Gaza. Others take pride in placing the people of Gaza on a diet, 1200 calories or less, per day, per person, to be exact.
While the dastardly Wall of Apartheid is a wall intended to asphyxiate the West Bank of Palestine into Bantustans crisscrossed with Jews-only highways under the pretext of security, the real intentions are to choke freedom of movement in a slow, peristaltic, calculating, and cold-blooded ethnic cleansing of Palestine. What a mockery this Wall of Shame and check points are to the memory of the millions of human beings brutalized in European pogroms, at Auschwitz, at Buchenwald, and the Warsaw Ghettoes?
Looming 25 feet in height with interspersing monstrous, unsightly medieval-like concrete turrets equipped with every mode of Big Brother electronic prying eyes, this Wall of Shame denies Palestinians access to schools, medical care, economic growth, and often runs right through the middle of towns and villages, isolating families from each other, and farmers from their fields. In one case, the Palestinian Catholic convent of the Salesian Sisters of Cremison’s property was bisected by the wall, thus separating the sisters from the convent school and the Palestinian Christian village to which the convent ministers and to whose children it provides an education. Israel’s real intentions are the disruption of daily life, eventual expulsion of Palestinians from their ancestral lands, and the outright theft of the convent’s rich, arable farm lands. Pray, tell, how can a handful of Catholic nuns and young school children be a security risk to a regional nuclear superpower?
For the Israelis, this Wall of Shame has become an insular and corrupting enclosure of the mind, the heart, and the soul, a kind of Juden uber alles corrupting mentality that is the downfall of all tyrannies and societies that feed on hatred as a means of subjugating those they consider inferior. Did the Holocaust help spawn such a deep seated nationalistic and religious neurosis? Is it greed for more free land? Is it religious fanaticism? Is it inebriation with power? Is it a seriously flawed magnetic north needle gone south on morality, justice, values, and decency? Is it hubris? Is it human nature?
Rubbing salt into 66 years of wounds, a new racist bill was recently introduced in the Israeli Knesset, an abominable bill that calls for the exclusive rights of Jews to the exclusion of non-Jews.
Unfortunately for the Palestinians they have been led astray by all their leaders (Hamas, PLO, and Palestinian Authority), some fanatic, others a corrupt and indecisive lot of servile overseers tending to and on behalf of Israel and its servile puppet, the U.S. They’ve also been sold down the river by an equally greedy and corrupt fanatical, seventh century theocratic sheiks propped up and supported by an equally greedy E.U. and American politicians addicted to oil, power and hegemony.
I have the highest admiration for the resilience of the dispossessed people of Palestine. Few peoples and countries have exhibited such Sumud (resilience, steadfastness, courage), a Sumud that has lasted for over 66 years. And try as they may to break the fabric of Palestinian culture, familial bonds, and personal, familial and national spirits, the Israelis will fail. There are no winners in this danse macabre, this sardonic minuet whose music is played by colonialists bent on subjugating the indigenous population by building walls of hunger, oppression, intimidation, brutal and deadly power, expulsion, expropriation of land, and the malicious attempts to dismantle Palestinian culture and identity.
Somewhere in the bible there is an account, a fable about the walls of Jericho. We are told in hyperbolic fictional language that the walls of Jericho were felled down by bugle sounds. The Israeli Separation Wall is a stinging blight on the Talmudic traditions and Jewish lore, both of which are rich in teachings about Justice, fairness, and kindness to strangers. (“He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love … by giving food and clothing. So show your love … for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10:18-19.)
This monstrous Wall of Apartheid will fall down only when the bugles of justice are blown from Jerusalem itself.
Would this not be a better world if, during this, the season of the celebration of the celebration of Hanukah (the Festival of Lights, Resistance, and Hope), the birth of the Prince of Peace, and the high aspirations for a more peaceful and hopeful New, 2015 year, Obama had the moral fortitude to declare America’s freedom from political servility by standing at Jerusalem’s Wall of Shame to utter the following: “Mr. Netanyahu, tear down this wall”?
I am not holding out for such an event occurring in the foreseeable future, if ever, and have appropriated William Blake’s poem, London, to express this gloomy reality in which an oppressed people are telling the world that “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall”:
I wander thro’ each charter’d village
Near where the heinous wall does go
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of resilience, and marks of woe.
In every cry of every Man,
In every infant’s cry of fear.
In every voice: in every canton,
The mind forg’d manacles I hear.
How the starving orphan’s cry
Doth not the church, synagogue, or mosque appall
And the brutal settlers on a high
When blood runs down their ghastly wall.
But most thro’ every day I hear
How the soldiers ruthlessly curse,
Blasting their guns away, till infants’ tears
Cry for justice against a wall perverse.
Raouf J. Halaby is in his 42nd year serving as a Professor of English and Art at a private university in Arkansas. He is a writer, sculptor, photographer, peace activist, and an avid gardener. firstname.lastname@example.org