Is Israel rebuilding a Berlin wall ?
June 17, 2002 7:31 AM   Subscribe

Is Israel rebuilding a Berlin wall ? Some people remember the moment of happiness when the Berlin wall was finally destroyed. Is this new wall a symbol of a new cold war era ?
posted by elpapacito (22 comments total)
Same news, but reported by Palestinina News Agency
posted by elpapacito at 7:38 AM on June 17, 2002

Glad I wasn't the only one who thought of Berlin when I read about that.
posted by louie at 7:41 AM on June 17, 2002

I am not unsympathetic to the conflict from the Israeli perspective, but I can't help but think that Israel has, in part, internalized the experience of the Ghetto and is now imposing it on the Palestinians.
posted by tranquileye at 7:48 AM on June 17, 2002

Surely there is a possibility that the new wall will create a de facto border at the green line?
posted by laukf at 8:06 AM on June 17, 2002

I also thought of the Berlin Wall when I heard the news.
posted by LinemanBear at 8:09 AM on June 17, 2002

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
posted by machaus at 8:09 AM on June 17, 2002

Surely there is a possibility that the new wall will create a de facto border at the green line?

Except that the border would not coincide with the actual Green Line, as the fence is being built on Palestinian lands, leading to the appropriation by Israel of several hundred acres of the West Bank, including some historical sites of cultural significance to Palestinians.
posted by mapalm at 8:10 AM on June 17, 2002

I think a closer analogy is perhaps the Great Wall of China.

After all, the fence in Israel is being put up by a government trying to reduce the number of people sneaking into the country with the intent to blow up civilians to make a political statement. The Berlin Wall was put up by a government that was trying to prevent a massive (and embarassing) flood of it's own citizens trying to emigrate to a country that was willing to accept them.

I don't find the two situations really comparable.
posted by jaek at 8:13 AM on June 17, 2002

I think that's the reason Sharon & a lot of other hard-right Israeli politicians have opposed the wall - it's effectively admitting that the west bank will never be assimilated into Israel proper, and hence is incompatible with their territorial aspirations.

I can't really see the comparison with the Berlin wall - this wall is built by the Israelis to keep the unwanted out, not to trap its own citizens inside.

The ghetto comparison is more apposite.
posted by riddley at 8:15 AM on June 17, 2002

The wall will be a public relations disaster, giving Israel's enemies a (literally) concrete symbol to coalsece upon. Journalists will give it a cute name and use it as a shorthand reference for Israeli ineffectuality or shortcomings in policy. A major boo boo.
posted by Faze at 8:31 AM on June 17, 2002

Watch, now they'll start blowing up the wall and THEN blowing up people.
posted by SpecialK at 8:35 AM on June 17, 2002

I thought the Palestinians wanted to start their own state on the land Israel took from Jordan in 1967. I can't travel to Canada without hassle; I don't feel like I'm in a ghetto.
posted by subgenius at 8:38 AM on June 17, 2002

Well jaek and riddely are right when they say the wall is more like the Great Wall then the Berlin wall ..but they seems to miss the most important point: it's the sensation of cold war given by any wall that's built to divide two populations in the same land.

Given that they can't just wipe each other away from the face of earth, the wall is supposed to ease the situation or to freeze it into a perpertual cold war scheme, in which the guys on the other side of the wall are evil and going to the other side of the wall is the same as going into an alien hell.

I don't think the ghetto image is fit for the situation : sending people to a ghetto like in WWII is sending a minority into an area that is part of one nation, and not obviously of the people that is sent into it. That'd be the same as saying that palestianians don't have a nation or their own land.

Also one could argue that the wall could serve two functions: keeping the terrorists outside Israel and keeping the tanks outside Palestina, at least until Israel decides to open the gates. But if the wall is effective at stopping terrorists, then Israel would have no reason to send tanks ; so it does stops the tanks too.

At the end the new wall, if it will be finished, represents a cultural/geographical/military division not far from the one represented by Berlin wall.
posted by elpapacito at 8:55 AM on June 17, 2002

Better a wall than continually increasing stack of bodies...? I don't like walls, but I like dead people less.

Also: do plans for a Palestinian state correspond with the borders of the West Bank? I've never seen that specifically laid out, but if so Palestine would have a border with Jordan then, and would be able to circumvent a wall by trading across that...? Trade, imo, being the lifeblood of a new state. The more alternatives that a Palestinian state has to engage in trade, the less they will be dependant on Israel as they mature as a nation.
posted by UncleFes at 9:23 AM on June 17, 2002

A wall ? How will the tanks get out of Israel ? Big gates perhaps, reminiscent of castles.

A moat might be a good idea, with gators. A drawbridge, over which the tanks can roll out.

I'm sure those that trade with Israel will be very happy to have to drive through a wall. Moreso, the Palestinians will be even more isolated, as there is no doubt who controls the wall and movement.
posted by Mondo at 9:28 AM on June 17, 2002

elpapacito, I think "Ghetto" when I look at a map of the Territories and then hear that Israel is building walls around the fragmented Palestinian areas.
posted by tranquileye at 9:32 AM on June 17, 2002

It doesn't look that ghetto to me in this Time map
posted by elpapacito at 9:49 AM on June 17, 2002

Right now Palestinians live in 220 separate cantons, each one with checkpoints making travel between any other canton very difficult. You don't need a wall if you have Jewish-only roads and Army checkpoints every few meters.

Trade, imo, being the lifeblood of a new state

Which is one of the reasons why the "generous" Camp David offer was turned down; Israel maintained control over the border with Jordan.

A secure border is an excellent idea, but this wall is not a secure border, it's a security fence built on appropriated land. It treats the symptoms but not the disease. However with the amount of attacks this year, it is hard to really blame the Israelis for this manouver. However like any option that does not involve a negotiated settlement that ends with two viable states, it is bound to fail.
posted by cell divide at 10:34 AM on June 17, 2002

Apparently, there is already a fence completely surrounding the Gaza Strip. According to columnist Ran HaCohen--who, by the way, argues that bombing Israeli soldiers is legal--that fence "reduc[es] intrusions to a zero level."

Interestingly, HaCohen criticized the Israeli government for not building a fence along the border with the West Bank. He argued that the three reasons no fence had been built were (1) it would look like a border; (2) it would leave some settlements on the PA side; and (3) "One cannot ignore the propaganda profits. Israel uses terror attack on its citizens, especially on civilians inside the Green Line, to justify its ever more violent occupation and to endlessly expand its illegal settlements. Why build a simple fence, if you can occasionally sacrifice a few civilians in return for a huge propaganda benefit for the occupation and the settlements?"
posted by subgenius at 11:35 AM on June 17, 2002

Just curious, though several of you mentioned the words "Berlin Wall", has *anyone* seen it called an "Iron Curtain", *anywhere* in the news?
posted by kablam at 2:32 PM on June 17, 2002

Except this wall is not to keep the builder's citizens from escaping (Notice how no Arabs in Israel are seeking to flee to Yasser's paradise. Or Syria or Lebanon or Eqypt or Syria.)

I hope the wall offers some deterence from Palestinian Islamic wackos. And if they take to the air? It's fairly easy to destroy airfields and airports.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:53 PM on June 17, 2002

Pulling the settlers out of the West Bank and pulling out of the occupied territories would to more to stop suicide bombings than the tallest wall they could build.
posted by Loudmax at 5:48 AM on June 18, 2002

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