The Wall
December 16, 2007 7:43 PM   Subscribe

Israel vs. Palestine: Against the Wall is a six-part series on about the separation wall which divides Israel from the West Bank.

Previously on Metafilter. Some more background on the Second Intifada.
posted by ludwig_van (12 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, the barrier's proven effectiveness in reducing the number of suicide bombings is disheartening to many.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:29 PM on December 16, 2007

Krrrlson, it would have been just as effective in reducing the number of suicide bombings in Israel if it was built on Israeli territory, and it would have been legal, too. Its current path snakes within the West Bank, separating Palestinian villages from their neighbors, making otherwise ordinary travel all but impossible, and effectively annexing large swathes of the West Bank to Israel.
posted by limon at 9:32 PM on December 16, 2007 [3 favorites]

If relinquishing territory is so effective, why do rocket attacks continue from the Gaza strip?
posted by Krrrlson at 10:44 PM on December 16, 2007

Krrrlson, what the Palestinians want and deserve under international law is not merely the relinquishment of territory, but the opportunity to become independent and self-governing. We should remember that Israel retains control of Gaza's borders, airspace, territorial waters, population registry, tax system and supply of goods.

Months before the disengagement, Ephraim Sneh, a member of the Knesset from the Labor Party and the then chair of the Knesset Subcommittee on Defense Planning and Policy, wrote presciently in Ha'aretz that a positive outcome
will occur only if Gaza is handed over to a responsible Palestinian government, through close coordination with Israel, and with active and generous support from the international community and the wealthy Arab states. A Gaza that is not a source of terrorism or a place where terrorism reigns, which is rehabilitated economically, and which is run by a Palestinian government, is likely to be a positive model for the future.

I am not certain that this is the model Sharon has in mind. An opposite, negative development seems more likely at the moment: Gaza in chaos, supported by international welfare organizations, and controlled by armed gangs - that is the model that will prevent any Israeli from even considering a continuation of the process in the West Bank. Continuation of the war after the Israeli exit from Gaza will cause the Israeli public to lose any desire to reach an agreement. In such a public atmosphere, our death grip on 2.5 million Palestinians in seven enclaves in the West Bank will turn into a perpetual one. (article link)

Sneh quotes from an interview in Ha'aretz with Dov Weisglass, senior advisor to Ariel Sharon and one of the chief architects of the disengagement plan. I will take the luxury of quoting Weisglass's words at greater length:
That is the significance of what we did [i.e. the disengagement]. The significance is the freezing of the political process. And when you freeze that process you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and you prevent a discussion about the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package that is called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed from our agenda indefinitely. (interview link)
True to form, Israel aggressively expanded settlements in the West Bank in the months following the disengagement. Meanwhile, to return to your original question, let us consider the effect of Israel's lockdown on Gaza's economy, society, and public welfare, as reported by various NGOs. Jake Hess did job culling relevant excerpts from various report for an article for ZNet. I will quote some of his findings:
Meanwhile, two years after the 'disengagement', Gaza is "under the effective control of Israel" as a "sealed-off, imprisoned, and occupied territory", in the words of the UN's Special Rapporteur on human rights in Palestine.


Human Rights Watch writes that, in 2006, "The closure of Gaza was more complete than at any time since the outbreak of the intifada in 2000, with the Rafah international border, Erez crossing, and other crossings into Israel designed for the transport of goods closed entirely or opened only irregularly, with disastrous effects on Gazan exports and imports."


The UN refugee agency working in Occupied Palestine, UNRWA, describes Gaza as "locked down and imprisoned", as "closure of the crossing points for commercial and construction goods…has reached unprecedented levels." The "conditions of siege imposed on Gaza and the ongoing fragmentation of the West Bank are destroying the fabric of Palestinian society". As a result, "Living conditions in Palestinian areas are now deplorable, slumping to levels unseen since 1967. Every aspect of life has been affected; the entire Palestinian population is suffering. The majority are now dependent on food and cash handouts."
Hess's article is far more thorough, and is replete with footnotes, but I do not reproduce it in full because my response is already too long. If you take some time to aquaint yourself with Israel's policy toward Gaza since the disengagement, you will see it is not very difficult to understand why so many Gazans are consumed with rage. I hope this sheds some light on your question.
posted by limon at 12:34 AM on December 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

Guide: You can paint here, there are no guards in the watch towers, they do not come until winter.

Banksy: Returns to car after 25 mins, and asks “What’s so funny?”

Guide: [Laughing hysterically] Of course there are guards in the towers, with their walkie-talkies and sniper rifles!

posted by jcruelty at 12:35 AM on December 17, 2007

We should remember that Israel retains control of Gaza's borders, airspace, territorial waters, population registry, tax system and supply of goods.

So, in your opinion, after an initial good faith gesture such as the Gaza disengagement, it is an acceptable response to continue with rocket attacks and suicide bombing attempts -- despite a number of so-called truces -- until *all* demands are satisfied? There isn't a single motivation for Israel to continue acquiescing if whatever thugs happen to be in charge of the Palestinian territories at the time, with the blessing and approval of the population, cannot restrain themselves from another murderous outburst for even a week.

The majority are now dependent on food and cash handouts.

Whatever's happening to all that aid?
posted by Krrrlson at 8:49 AM on December 17, 2007

So... did anybody watch the videos?
posted by ludwig_van at 10:44 AM on December 17, 2007

I got through about 2.5 of the segments. The guy comes off as smug. Nothing particularly insightful about the film. And you know you're dealing with some serious bias when the wikipedia article feels more balanced... oh well.
posted by gwint at 11:43 AM on December 17, 2007

Nothing particularly insightful about the film

Or the first ten minutes, anyway. Well, at least you tried.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:49 AM on December 17, 2007

He does sound smug. And asking Itamar Rabinovitch to explain the Wall is a bit like asking Pat Robertson to explain immigration reform. You're going to get a great soundbite, but not necessarily a nuanced understanding of the reason behind why people feel the way they do.

I lived in Jerusalem during 2001 and 2002, which were very bad years. Limon gives a very good summary of the ways in which the Wall affects Palestinians in Gaza, but for many Israelis, keeping free of suicide bombings trumps the suffering the Wall may cause. They're not heartless, but they are self-interested. Suroosh Alvi makes it seem that Israelis go about their lives with light hearts, free of the knowledge that their time at the beach is made possible by an oppressive, 400 mile-long human rights violation. I can safely say that's untrue. The nature of being Israeli is living with a near-permanent sense of cognitive dissonance. It's ubiquitous, and makes people believe and do strange things.
posted by awenner at 1:03 PM on December 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

What's all this nonsense about "stopping the suicide bombings"? Talking like that suggests that there's some kind of constant stream of suicide bombers to worry about.

Since the beginning of this year, 52 Palestinian children have been killed by the Israeli Defence Force. Only one child with Israeli citizenship has been killed in the conflict, and he was killed by the IDF too!

And the disparity was similar before the wall, too.
posted by Wataki at 11:24 AM on December 18, 2007

If anyone is interested, I just got back from the West Bank over Christmas and was able to check out the wall in person. There's a slide show and panorama at the end of this series of posts.

We had a great guide, Mahmoud from West Bank Tours who also does good work for a children's organization called Project Hope as well as the Palestinian Circus, As-Sirk As-Saghir. I only mention this in case anyone wants to visit the West Bank and see for themselves what is going on. Mahmoud is devoted to helping the youth in Palestine channel their energy in positive ways and showing tourists the real Palestine beyond the hype and the headlines.
posted by funkyavocado at 11:05 AM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

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