Some call it the
separation fence. Some call it the security fence. Some just call it the
fence, but the "Palestinians" like calling it a "wall." Truth be told, most
of it is metal and wire, like any other fence. But there are parts of it,
solid concrete, more than five meters - almost 20 feet - tall. But, more
importantly than what it is, is why it is.
Long before Israel - the state, government, and most of the people - wanted
to build it, to "separate"; the "Palestinians" had already built a wall between
us. Suicide bombings, endless machine-gun attacks on the roads, rocks and
Molotov cocktails, car thefts and kidnapping-murders, had long before "separated"
us, had shattered the illusion that Israelis and "Palestinians," Jews and
Arabs could live together. The fence or wall or however you choose to describe
it, is only the outward manifestation of an inner state of mind that had
already gripped both peoples.
Arabs had always been a part of Israel. Arabs were part of the newly formed
state, after the 1948 War of Independence. Technically part of the enemy
population who had just warred against Israel, Arabs that found themselves
within the borders of the new State of Israel were related to in contradictory
ways. Jews were justifiably suspicious of them, having by-and-large just
sided with the invading Arab armies trying to crush the newborn Jewish state.
They were under military rule at the beginning and it took some time until
they were afforded full citizen rights including the right to vote in the
Knesset, Israel's parliament. Yet, the "new Hebrews" or "new Israelis" in
the making - Jews distant from their own traditions - had for some time already
been romanticizing the Arab, and his connection to the land. The Fellah,
the Arab peasant farmer, was an early role model for waves of Labor Zionist
youth - during the pre-state period - trying to re-connect their roots into
the land, their ancient homeland. But, the Arab was also dangerous. He was
wild, untamed and uncultured, very different from these central and eastern
European Jewish youths coming to settle the land.
Israeli Arabs were eventually extended the vote, and Israeli Jews thought
they, the Arabs, were integrating - i.e. benefiting from Israel's western
economy and lifestyles - Israeli Jews also thought they were benefiting from
the cultural symbiosis with the Arabs. Jews were seen going to Arab villages
to buy traditional crafts, drink some "real" Arabic sweet coffee, and this
all could be done on the Sabbath, when stores and restaurants were closed
in the Jewish neighborhoods and towns. The Arabs had entered Israel's
heart, they had found their "place," or at least, that's what Israeli Jews
felt. When the miraculous victory of the 1967 Six-Day War took place, in
its aftermath, Israel found itself in charge of more than three-quarters
of a million more Arabs. Now Israelis could "educate" and "help" more Arabs
and mingle among them, to suck up their primitive "lust" for life. What Joy!
In what probably is history's greatest case of going "native," many Israeli
Jews started identifying with the Arabs. Long since educated to reject and
revile their own traditions, many secularized Israeli Jews held Arabs and
Arabic culture in high esteem, eventually supporting a growing political
independence movement among the "good" Arabs that Israel "oppresses."
Not all Jews, I might add, succumbed to this way of feeling. Those Jews still
steeped in their own traditions, filled with love and respect for their own
history, when given the opportunity to visit, and then later, to move out
to the heartland of Jewish history, where the Bible was born, Judea and Samaria
- the West Bank - grabbed the chance. They built cities, towns, and villages.
They re-established a connection to all that was holy and pure in their homeland.
The heartland that was ripped away from them by the Roman Legions almost
2,000 years before, and denied to them by successive occupation forces, Byzantine,
Arab, Crusader, Muslim, Ottoman-Turk, British, Jordanian, had finally returned
to them. Jews re-settled every nook and cranny of their ancient homeland,
as they tried not to bother the Arab invaders in their midst. They built
on empty hilltops, they bought land, they farmed empty fields, and they loved
Arabs, who had "settled" into the hearts of Israelis, began causing "heartburn."
They began demanding equality, or more. They began demanding political independence.
Truthfully, they always had, but just as secularized Israeli Jews over-romanticized
what the Arabs were, they over-romanticized how much the Arabs loved and
appreciated them, and their western economy and lifestyle, selectively ignoring
Arab complaints for decades. Terrorism grew; many Israelis now openly
spoke of "separation," "divorce," and the need to start building "the fence."
So the Israeli government rolled out maps, plans, and devised schemes to
carve up its homeland. The "fence" had begun!
Not all Israeli Jews support the fence. Many on the "wrong side" of the fence
feel that their personal safety has been sacrificed. If Hamas or Islamic
Jihad can't get to Tel-Aviv or Haifa to bomb, then terrorism in Judea and
Samaria will probably go up. Are those Jews there worth any less, than these
Jews here? Is their blood any redder in Tel-Aviv?
But most significant is the symbolism. A fence, a wall is being created that
will separate the "Palestinians" from the Israelis. If a Palestinian state
is born, the "wall" will economically choke the newborn, so say the Arabs.
It signifies to them the end of "Palestinian" workers coming into Israel
to labor. But it will also help to "separate" the Israeli Arabs from their
brothers in "Palestine." Or will it?
Will Israeli Arabs feel disconnected from those in the new state, as they
did before 1967? I doubt it, modern telecommunications technology will
see to that. Over 25 years of Israeli control of the areas - until it was
handed over to the Palestinian Authority, and 10 years of a "Peace Process"
has "Palestinianized" Israeli Arabs beyond recognition. Note their
increasing involvement in terror acts alone, or with "Palestinians" against
Israeli Jews. This I believe will only grow.
Two other phenomena I believe will also grow. First, if Hamas, Islamic Jihad,
and the other terror groups can't access pre-1967 Israel anymore - if the
security fence is that good - then their motivation to improve their missile
technology will grow exponentially. Remember that as many times as Israeli
politicians point out the "impenetrability" of the Gaza security fence and
how it's prevented terror attacks originating from Gaza, they never mention
the growth of Kassam missile technology and the increasing vulnerability
of Negev towns, on the "right side" of the fence, from Gaza. Imagine more
accurate missiles - eventually with chemical or biological warheads - suicide-bombers
will be child's play in comparison. Second, there will be increasing irredentism
- i.e. calls for independence and affiliation with "Palestine" - on the part
of Israeli Arabs.
But as I said earlier, not all Jews want the fence, the wall. Almost 200
years ago, a process of "enlightenment," better called secularization and
assimilation, began within the Jewish people. It spread from western and
central Europe eastward, and even crossed the Mediterranean to North Africa.
It promoted a more "universal" cultural approach. Many of the early non-religious
Zionist leaders promoted it in the developing Jewish state. Many Israeli
Jews began to feel alienated from their history and traditions, as earlier
pointed out. The "wall" being put up in the heartland of the Jewish people
will separate most Israeli Jews from their most holy places and history,
the burial place of their forefathers in Hebron and Joseph's Tomb in Shechem
- Nablus - for example. Truthfully, many don't care. But, a country that
doesn't honor, respect, and care about its past, will have a hard time, convincing
its sons and daughters to strive for a future. The Arabs, in contrast, have
a mythologized false past in this land and - even so - are willing to fight,
kill, and sacrifice for it. The Jews need to know why they are in Israel
and not in Paris, Morocco, Algiers, New York, or Moscow. The wall in the
heart of the Land of Israel will help prevent this from happening.
And what about for those who do care? What about for those Jews who daily
sacrifice for their beloved Eretz Yisrael - the Land of Israel - living in
Judea and Samaria? They are being cut-off from the rest of the Israeli nation.
Put on the "wrong side" of the fence as if to symbolize they've done something
wrong sticking to their traditions and history, in spite of all attempts
to take it away.
But, in spite of it all, they have their forefather's graves before them.
What other nation can make such a claim, that they know where their founding
fathers and mothers are buried? They can walk the places that biblical figures
- kings and prophets - walked. They can climb up the same mountains, and
down the same valleys. Most Jews on the "wrong side" of the fence know why
they are there. They haven't gone "native," they aren't "loosing" to the
Arabs. Their world isn't shattered because the pipe dream of peace is shattered.
But that "wall," that "wall" hurts!
Ariel Natan Pasko is an independent analyst & consultant. His articles can be read at: www.geocities.com/ariel_natan_pasko.