This post is going to be controversial. Some of you are probably not going to like it. Just for the record, I am a Zionist. I support Israel's right to self-defense. I live in Israel and have done for 15 years now. I am raising 4 children here with a love of the land, its heritage, its people and its language. I live in Gush Etzion. If you don't know where that is, it is in the West Bank, 15 minutes from Jerusalem, 8 minutes from the southern suburbs of Beit Lechem - Bethlehem. And I guess that makes me a "settler." I also believe that Palestinians are people, and that they should be able to live in dignity. OK now!.
Every day, I drive to Jerusalem and pass the extensive work that is being done in constructing the security wall. Yes. I am aware there is controversy about the very name: a fence, a barrier, a wall. And then there is the adjective that describes the fence, wall or barrier. It ranges from the term: security, to "defense," "separation," "apartheid," and probably there are others. For some perspective from the Israeli Government Here is the official take on the Fence.
Here are some pictures, scenes I shot on my way to work a week or two ago.
Let me tell you. The construction and mainly preparation work (levelling the earth and preparing the route of the wall) has been going on for six months now. Many trucks and tractors daily toil all day changing the contours of the countryside in order to construct this barrier. By the looks of it, it will be a monstrous thing. Apparently much of the barrier is a fence, but in places in which there are concerns that the road may be a target for shooting, it becomes a concrete wall.
Well, in short, I hate this wall. I think it is a bad idea, and it will have even worse effects in the future. This post is to explain why.
1. I don't think it is effective in stopping terror. In Gush Katif/Gaza underground tunnels that avoid the border fence stretch for many hundreds of metres. The tunnel used in the operation to capture Gilad Shalit was almost a kilometer long. Even in the West Bank where the soil is not sandy, terrorists will be able to circumvent the wall.
In addition. Thank God, we have had very few suicide attacks lately, even though we know that the terrorists are trying all the time. Many of those who DO get through are transported by Israeli's ferrying illegal Palestinian labour; Israelis who make a quick buck on the black market. Will the fence stop this? And if Tzahal have been successful thus far, without a fence, then will a physical barrier make a considerable difference?
2. Until the summer, there were thoughts and plans of a disengagement – a Hitkansut – in the West Bank. Even though no one would admit it, the separation fence was supposed to be a quasi-border. But now that for everyone the withdrawal on the West Bank is far off the horizon, does this border fence make any sense?
3. This issue relates also to the route of the Fence. For legal reasons, in many places the fence must follow pretty much the Green Line. Now take, for example the northern Jordan Valley. One travels through the Jordan Valley and there is little hityashvut, but most of it is Jewish. By erecting the Fence on the Green Line, they have excluded a heroic halutzic settlement like Shadmot Mehola and placed in on the "Palestinian" side! Why? There are no Palestinians there! It is not security! It is politics. We are effectively withdrawing from land voluntarily and setting our own pioneers apart from the Israeli "mainland". What an insult to these people who have battled for years to establish their farms and communities!
And for those on the Right Wing, are they really interested in effectively creating a wider exclusively Palestinian region? Effectively we are creating far larger areas which are "de facto" Palestine. Why?
4. From the Palestinian perspective, I do have to say that if I was a Palestinian and they built that wall in my back yard, I would sign up with Hamas tomorrow. It is so imposing, so grey, so immense, so restricting. It feels like a big prison. I feel that way as I pass the construction on the way to Jerusalem and also on the way to Beit Shemesh. Gush Etzion will be a walled enclave, and I feel like they are walling me in! Think about what a Palestinian kid feels like. It is not a ghetto – people and trade can get through - but it looks too much like one. I cannot but feel that this wall is creating problems, big problems rather than solving them. Moreover, we hear about the suffering and inconvenience it is causing the Palestinian population. For many, this is genuine hardship.
5. And then there is the hills and valleys themselves - nature. I have to say that the strenth of my feelings on this startled even me! I am far from being a child of the '70's flower power. And yet, the ripping apart of hills, the destruction of fertile land, the obstruction of views, the ruining of natural beautiful countryside is something which has disturbed me in a very deep place. It seems like we are violating the landscape itself! And in Gush Etzion we used to see deer running freely through the hills. Will they be able to run, or will they also be trapped by the separation wall? We are scarring the landscape, making a permanent indelible mark on wide tracts of our historic beautiful land. Have we considered this aspect?
6. And there is the expense. Such enormous resources are being piled into this project! Just the half mile stretch that I witness being constructed daily has taken at least ten trucks half year to work on and they are still not yet finished! Not millions, but billions! I shudder to think of the welfare programs the education, the charity, the health causes that could be funded by those monies!
I would even suggest that Israel's long-term security would be stronger if all those billions were invested in Zionist education programs for Israelis strengthening their understanding of our right to our land and the nature of our struggle with the Arabs and the Palestinians.
What a waste! Whoever came up with such a megalomaniac plan to build a Great Wall of China through the delicate countryside of our tiny land was not thinking straight. Maybe in Ramat Aviv and Herzlia it sounds sensible to build a wall to keep terrorists out. Maybe if you are certain that you are going to more or less '67 borders it mmakes sense. For me I don't get it. The negatives far outway the positives to me.