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A counterpoint

The article I sent yesterday represented a well elaborated "rightist" point of view concerning terrorism. The one below, which has Israel as a setting, represents a well argued "leftist" perspective. I think that both articles do make a nice counterpoint and are well written in their own terms. And, both, somehow are representative of the way people respond towards these issues. I wanted to put them here as a follow up to our ongoing discussions on contemporary problems. Until here my excursus on attitudes towards terrorism and back to the MCA paper.
Let's dismantle the fence
By Yoel Esteron

It's terribly hot. Perhaps because of the oppressive heat it's difficult to remember how it came to be that the Israeli majority supports the fence. Was it something that MK Haim Ramon (Labor) said? Was it something that MK Yossi Beilin (Yahad/Meretz) didn't say? The left was opposed to a fence, but then it turned out that the right was in favor; or maybe it was just the opposite. The suicide attacks have driven all the Israelis crazy, and rightly so. And former prime minister Ehud Barak said that there's no choice.

In the final analysis, people who during cooler days understood that building a separation fence, or wall, is an act of despair made do with a lukewarm battle for the "route." With a shrug of their shoulders they supported the fence, on condition that it was built along the "route." Thus was born a new magic word, which of course disappeared into thin air. Whoever allowed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to build a fence should have known that the route would not be that of Peace Now.

The Israelis saw the fence tearing Palestinians away from their families and their lands - and kept silent. The center and the left, and not only the right, are submissively accepting "security considerations." The pathetic demonstrations here and there against the fence have only emphasized the silence and the submissiveness. The few demonstrators have been labeled with some dubious image, as anarchists from the outer fringes. All the others stayed home with their air conditioners.

Who has even seen a piece of the fence with his own eyes? It is nearby, yet as far away as the fence that India built in Kashmir. If Mina Tzemach or Camil Fuchs conduct a survey, it will turn out that most of the Israelis have already "disengaged" from the centers of friction, and above all, from Jerusalem. If that is the case, what does the "Jerusalem envelope" have to do with them? And where exactly is Bat Hefer and its fence? For most Israelis, the fence is a rumor.

The High Court of Justice gladdened the heart of anyone whose conscience bothered him. A poor consolation. Look, there are justices in Jerusalem, and they have ordered the government to move the fence in northwest Jerusalem so that the Palestinian villages won't be cut off from their fields. A decision that is respectable, reasoned and just, and which misses the main point because even the High Court cannot ask the real, critical question: Is there any need at all for a fence?

Ostensibly, the answer is clear. We need a fence in order to stop terror, at least until there is peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. It is difficult today to oppose this pure logic, without being suspected of suffering from sunstroke. It's too late already - the fence has been under energetic construction for months. The High Court decision may be a "black day," according to Colonel (res.) Danny Tirza, the man who planned the route, but tomorrow is another day.

The fence is tempting. It's as attractive as the slogan: "They are there and we are here." The fence may prevent the next attack for a while - who can argue with the security experts? Even the High Court unquestioningly accepts the pronouncement of the head of the Israel Defense Forces in the territories. But it exacerbates the Palestinians' hatred and despair. It will create 10 terrorist attacks in place of the attack it prevents.

Life without a fence was terrible, but at least it created a sense of urgency; that we have to do something to stop the killing; to solve the conflict; to make peace. The fence creates an illusion that we can "manage" the conflict instead of resolving it, another dubious invention of recent years.

The Israeli majority has given up. That is the true significance of its indifference toward the fence. It is hiding on the coastal plain, and longing for a little quiet after years of terror. Even the peace camp is willing to make do with little - with a crumb from the High Court. Meanwhile, it is allowing the right to continue the settlement enterprise in the West Bank without interference, a dunam here and a dunam there, and imposing the suffering of the occupation on millions of Palestinians.

Anyone who wants to live without terror, to live in peace, has to oppose the fence. Not when peace, or the messiah, comes. Now. Anyone who supports the fence, or remains silent, cannot console himself that he is supporting a route that is reasonable. Anyone who doesn't oppose the fence is in effect accepting Sharon's fence.

The result will be more and more terror that circumvents the fence; the longer the occupation continues, the more horrible the terror. The fence will not stop it for long, it will only make it more sophisticated and more terrible. Here is an urgent proposal to the agenda for Israelis from the center and leftward: Let's dismantle the fence.

David D. Preiss
home page: http://pantheon.yale.edu/~ddp6/