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Sharon's Wall
Last uploaded : Sunday 17th Aug 2003 at 23:35
Contributed by : Hazem Saghiyeh


In the early 1960s, the poorer and less democratic built a wall in the face of the richest and more democratic. This was in Germany. Four decades later, the richest and more democratic is building a wall in the face of the poorer and less democratic. This is taking place in Israel-Palestine.

This difference is attributed to many changes in the regional and international, as well as in the political and economic, atmosphere. Ariel Sharon, (who last year was opposed to the wall and called it 'populist'), will most probably try to sum down these changes to a single factor: terror. George Bush may express his "understanding" to the point of view of Israel's prime minister, just as he did before (even though he criticized the wall).

But the side that builds the wall, whether it is poor or rich, democratic or not, facilitates jumping into some generalizations: First, the idea championed by the wall builder has lost all attraction and appeal. It has lost all propensity for extending and export. (The image of democracy in the Middle East could end up like that of Soviet socialism in Europe).

Second, the builder's mind is extremely mythical in the sense reminiscent of Middle Ages practices. And when this takes place in the era of globalization, and by a party that stands to gain from it, it provides a powerful argument to the opponents of globalization.

Third, the builder has no room for adventures. And peace is an adventure. He is tightly linked to the narrowest geo-political givens. He is strongly linked to the past, which dictates his and our future.

And, when all is said and done, the wall does not conceal its symbolic representation of a racist hierarchy: Inside there are citizens, and outside there are barbarians. But it does not conceal either its negative repercussion on U.S. policy: the consequences extend from where the wall is built to Iraq in the East, and to Egypt, and perhaps further in the West. That is why George Bush should not express his "understanding" when Sharon tries to make him do so.

There is, moreover, another point: If the three planned phases of its construction are completed, the wall will cover almost half the area of the West Bank, where most of its fertile land exists and, in effect, separates the northern West Bank from its southern part. In addition to its disastrous economic consequences, this would turn the Palestinian state into an impossible proposition. And everyone is aware of Israel's ability to transform the temporary into permanent, and security matters into strategic issues.

But while the two-state proposition fails, contemplating a one state in which citizens have equal rights would not work. Such a suggestion would be refused by Israelis, and will meet a Palestinian and Arab-Islamic opposition. A democratic state that is neither Jewish nor Islamic is doomed in advance.

Thus, what is to be done?

What must be done is to bring down the wall and rally all the forces that can be mobilized to that end. The most powerful element to make this plan succeed is putting an end of terror and suicide attacks. Regardless of whether the wall is designed to prevent terror, as the Israelis say, or as a pretext to absorb additional territories, as the Palestinians say, terror has to end. This is what will make it possible to mobilize the Israeli public opinion against the wall and against absorption of territories. Only then will the Palestinians gather the means they don't have today to the right they already have.

First published in al Hayat.
JewishComment is grateful to Common Ground News Service for rights clearance.




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