Tuesday, July 20, 2004

In a controversial move, the United Nations voted 150-6 to endorse "a resolution demanding that Israel comply" with the ruling of the International Court of Justice at The Hague "to dismantle its West Bank barrier," according to a report from BBC News.
According to al Jazeera, the largest Arab-language news network, many Palestinians see the barricade/wall/fence as, bluntly put, an 'apartheid wall', which personally seems extreme (my view is that it is simply a wall). Whether this degrades the social standing of Palestinians even further from their current second-class citizen status to the point at which it can be compared to South African apartheid is, well, arguable at best.
There were 10 abstentions to the vote, and among the nations opposed were the United States and, of course, Israel. The 'security fence' (a.k.a. 'apartheid wall' or barricade) currently being constructed will cut relatively deep into Palestinian territory, which is the cause of the controversy over the issue as many Palestinians (the US Census Bureau estimates that the population of Palestinians living in the West Bank is roughly two million) see as a 'land grab'.
Israeli Defense Force (IDF) plans entail the construction of enclaves inside the West Bank that appear to divide off sections of the West Bank into segregated cantons, known quite simply as the 'Encirclement Fence' (David Makovsky, "How to Build a Fence," Foreign Affairs, March/April 2004, vol. 83/no. 2, p. 60).
Under the IDF plan, the so-called fence will excise 47% of Palestinian territory and there will be 118 Israeli settlements (as opposed to 52 settlements under the Israeli Ministry of Defense plan, 45 according to the 'Clinton Parameters', and 18 under the Geneva Accords) on the 'Israeli side' of the fence (ibid., p. 61), which under the 'encirclement' plan will cut far into West Bank territory, even more so than what is currently being constructed. (Imagine the global outcry from humanitarian groups and the like if the 'encirclement' plan, much less the current one in effect by the Ministry of Defense, were to be implemented.)
Under the current scenario, which has elicited global condemnation -- from the ICJ for instance and, now, the UN, in addition to 'Arab world' opinion -- 14.5% of Palestinian land is being annexed and 10,940 Palestinians (id.) are being displaced, roughly .5% of the population of the West Bank.
The idea of segregating a whole population of a particular group of people (the Palestinians) is disturbingly reminiscent of the ghettoes in which the Jews were forced to live cordoned off from the rest of society by the Germans, although it must be made clear that I, a Jew myself, am NOT comparing the state of Israel to Nazi Germany, but rather that the policies of the Sharon administration and the IDF toward the Palestinian people are about as disturbing as the PLO's policy toward the Jewish people, which is to drive them to the sea; Sharon's policy is to keep the Palestinians as second-class citizens, and segregated from society in name of 'security'. Of course, this is a completely outrageous, unacceptable observation and for that I most sincerely apologize.
Again, as a Jew, however, I very much support Israel's right to exist as much as any nation's. However, I am deeply troubled that its Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, may be sending his nation down the path of a very dark road, and I hope that the two peoples in that troubled land may someday find a way to co-exist and seek a peace between themselves. A wall, be it in the form of any name, is not the answer. It will only make the problem worse, and continue to ensure that the devastating cycle of resentment and violence may only continue.

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