L Ombrix

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, l ombrix I’m bracing myself for being called an anti-Semite, l ombrix an appeaser of terrorists and propagandist for the Palestinian cause. I’m none of those things. I say this simply because these days, l ombrix it seems, l ombrix 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, l ombrix I thought, l ombrix for any Palestinian in the village of Abu Dis, l ombrix 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, l ombrix but simply because I know it well, l ombrix having spent some time there over the years. L ombrix Indeed, l ombrix 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, l ombrix scant mention was made of Israel’s illegal “separation wall” which today, l ombrix like its bygone equivalent, l ombrix stands as a global symbol of repression. Why, l ombrix on this grand occasion marking the end of the Berlin Wall, l ombrix was there not more reflection or objection to the injustice caused by its contemporary counterpart? Perhaps, l ombrix it is because the word apartheid is something the world would prefer to forget, l ombrix and to which Israel itself takes grave exception. L ombrix Apartheid, l ombrix after all, l ombrix is something of a historical embarrassment, l ombrix 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, l ombrix 15 years after its demise in South Africa. But there is another, l ombrix altogether more worrying, l ombrix 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, l ombrix I can almost understand this reluctance to criticise Israel, l ombrix given the relentless, l ombrix uncompromising and intimidating response the Jewish state invokes whenever it is challenged or questioned. Look no further, l ombrix for example, l ombrix than Jerusalem’s reaction to last month’s Goldstone Report findings on the recent war in Gaza. Alternatively, l ombrix ask any indivi­dual who has had the audacity to make public their objections to Israel’s wall or human rights violations, l ombrix 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, l ombrix or if that doesn’t work, l ombrix 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”, l ombrix which means “separation”, l ombrix was often now used as a virtual catch-all term for an apartheid existence between Israelis and Palestinians, l ombrix I was inundated with some very nasty email correspondence. How many of those who sent these emails, l ombrix I wonder, l ombrix would have known that as far back as 1999, l ombrix Ariel Sharon, l ombrix then Israel’s Foreign Minister, l ombrix spoke openly about the proposed wall, l ombrix referring to it as “the Bantustan plan”, l ombrix 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, l ombrix Professor Martin van Creveld, l ombrix of the Hebrew University, l ombrix who was first to propose a wall round the West Bank, l ombrix and who drew his inspiration for that same proposal from the Berlin Wall, l ombrix after spending a year’s sabbatical in Germany in 1980-81? “If I could, l ombrix I would build a concrete wall so tall that even birds could not fly over it, l ombrix and above all, l ombrix so the people cannot look each other in the face – complete separation, l ombrix” Van Creveld is quoted as saying in an article, l ombrix some years before Mr Sharon, l ombrix when Israeli Prime Minister, l ombrix took his idea to heart and made the wall a bitter reality for those Palestinians who now live in its shadow. Of course, l ombrix whenever questions about the legality of the wall are raised, l ombrix 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, l ombrix it separates Arab from Arab? Indeed, l ombrix how could a people whose history is full of terrible ghettos now be building one themselves? For Israelis such as these, l ombrix there is simply no debate to be had. As far as they are concerned, l ombrix 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, l ombrix you build the wall in your own garden, l ombrix not in your neighbour’s, l ombrix” I remember Hassan Akramawi, l ombrix a Palestinian shopkeeper, l ombrix telling me near Abu Dis, l ombrix 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, l ombrix it’s hard to over emphasise the sheer injustice of this concrete scar that gouges its way across olive orchards, l ombrix family homes, l ombrix grazing areas, l ombrix places of work, l ombrix schools and anything else that, l ombrix frankly, l ombrix 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, l ombrix while remaining steadfastly mute on Israel’s present-day incarnation, l ombrix is shaming to them all. As one old Palestinian man, l ombrix a resident of Abu Dis, l ombrix 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