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Berlin Wall is gone but Israel’s inhumane barrier still stands http://nigelparry.com/enginefiles/uploads/banksy-israel-wall.jpg David Pratt/ Herald Scotland In writing this, cipro in canada I’m bracing myself for being called an anti-Semite, cipro in canada an appeaser of terrorists and propagandist for the Palestinian cause. I’m none of those things. I say this simply because these days, cipro in canada it seems, cipro in canada anyone who dares criticise the policies of the Israeli government leaves themselves open to such accusations. The compulsion to write something that would leave me prone to such an attack was instigated earlier this week by watching Berlin’s champagne and fireworks celebrations commemor ating the fall of the Wall. How strange it must be, cipro in canada I thought, cipro in canada for any Palestinian in the village of Abu Dis, cipro in canada sitting before a TV screen looking on as the world indulges in rapturous back-slapping over the restoration of freedom and human rights that came with the passing of the wall. I mention Abu Dis not because it’s special, cipro in canada but simply because I know it well, cipro in canada having spent some time there over the years. Cipro in canada Indeed, cipro in canada I might just as easily have named umpteen other Palestinian communities cut off behind the concrete wall and fence built by Israel that stands twice as high and runs four times as long as its infamous Berlin predecessor. What was amazing about the Berlin jamboree – aside from the toppling dominoes – was that in the days leading up to and during the celebrations, cipro in canada scant mention was made of Israel’s illegal “separation wall” which today, cipro in canada like its bygone equivalent, cipro in canada stands as a global symbol of repression. Why, cipro in canada on this grand occasion marking the end of the Berlin Wall, cipro in canada was there not more reflection or objection to the injustice caused by its contemporary counterpart? Perhaps, cipro in canada it is because the word apartheid is something the world would prefer to forget, cipro in canada and to which Israel itself takes grave exception. Cipro in canada Apartheid, cipro in canada after all, cipro in canada is something of a historical embarrassment, cipro in canada even if its existence and enforcement – whatever Israel might say – shamefully continues today for millions of Palestinians corralled in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, cipro in canada 15 years after its demise in South Africa. But there is another, cipro in canada altogether more worrying, cipro in canada reason for our collective reticence over Israel’s shameful policy of closure and containment of the Palestinian people. It has to do with the way the world becomes cowed whenever the need arises to confront this “democratic” state over policies that fly in the face of international law and human rights conventions. Frankly, cipro in canada I can almost understand this reluctance to criticise Israel, cipro in canada given the relentless, cipro in canada uncompromising and intimidating response the Jewish state invokes whenever it is challenged or questioned. Look no further, cipro in canada for example, cipro in canada than Jerusalem’s reaction to last month’s Goldstone Report findings on the recent war in Gaza. Alternatively, cipro in canada ask any indivi­dual who has had the audacity to make public their objections to Israel’s wall or human rights violations, cipro in canada only to find themselves on the receiving end of an often vitriolic Zionist lobby. One of the favourite responses of these Zionist cadres is to denounce any critic as an anti-Semite, cipro in canada or if that doesn’t work, cipro in canada an appeaser of terrorists. I remember well the first time I dared use the word apartheid in the context of Israel’s wall. In pointing out in an article that the Hebrew word “hafrada”, cipro in canada which means “separation”, cipro in canada was often now used as a virtual catch-all term for an apartheid existence between Israelis and Palestinians, cipro in canada I was inundated with some very nasty email correspondence. How many of those who sent these emails, cipro in canada I wonder, cipro in canada would have known that as far back as 1999, cipro in canada Ariel Sharon, cipro in canada then Israel’s Foreign Minister, cipro in canada spoke openly about the proposed wall, cipro in canada referring to it as “the Bantustan plan”, cipro in canada saying that the South African apartheid model offered the most appropriate solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? How many also would have known that it was one of Israel’s own prominent military historians, cipro in canada Professor Martin van Creveld, cipro in canada of the Hebrew University, cipro in canada who was first to propose a wall round the West Bank, cipro in canada and who drew his inspiration for that same proposal from the Berlin Wall, cipro in canada after spending a year’s sabbatical in Germany in 1980-81? “If I could, cipro in canada I would build a concrete wall so tall that even birds could not fly over it, cipro in canada and above all, cipro in canada so the people cannot look each other in the face – complete separation, cipro in canada” Van Creveld is quoted as saying in an article, cipro in canada some years before Mr Sharon, cipro in canada when Israeli Prime Minister, cipro in canada took his idea to heart and made the wall a bitter reality for those Palestinians who now live in its shadow. Of course, cipro in canada whenever questions about the legality of the wall are raised, cipro in canada Israel invariably responds with the same answer: “It stops the bombers and that’s all that matters.” But how can Israel insist on calling it a “security wall” when instead of just separating Israel from the West Bank, cipro in canada it separates Arab from Arab? Indeed, cipro in canada how could a people whose history is full of terrible ghettos now be building one themselves? For Israelis such as these, cipro in canada there is simply no debate to be had. As far as they are concerned, cipro in canada the crushing effects of the wall on the lives of millions of Palestinians is a small price to pay for the relative – if somewhat imaginary – guarantee of their own personal security. But to call it this way makes for a convenient defence of a policy they also know is little more than a land grab and indefensible in terms of international law. “If you want security for your house, cipro in canada you build the wall in your own garden, cipro in canada not in your neighbour’s, cipro in canada” I remember Hassan Akramawi, cipro in canada a Palestinian shopkeeper, cipro in canada telling me near Abu Dis, cipro in canada where the wall had cut his business off from the village customers who gave him a meagre income. For anyone who has never seen the wall, cipro in canada it’s hard to over emphasise the sheer injustice of this concrete scar that gouges its way across olive orchards, cipro in canada family homes, cipro in canada grazing areas, cipro in canada places of work, cipro in canada schools and anything else that, cipro in canada frankly, cipro in canada the state of Israel has decided to confiscate. Its sheer physical size bears down when you are near it. The double standards displayed by many world leaders this week keen to add their ringing endorsement to the inhuman and intolerant rule the Berlin Wall represented, cipro in canada while remaining steadfastly mute on Israel’s present-day incarnation, cipro in canada is shaming to them all. As one old Palestinian man, cipro in canada a resident of Abu Dis, cipro in canada once put it to me succinctly: “Where is the world? Where is the world?” David Pratt Originally published on 13 Nov 2009 at http://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/spl/dundee-united/berlin-wall-is-gone-but-israel-s-inhumane-barrier-still-stands-1.932008