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Archive for February, 2008

Because the post was rather long, I put it on its own page. It contains a rundown of the United States’ involvement in Nicaragua in the post-WWII era, with special attention paid to the acts of U.S. terror committed against Nicaragua for which the U.S. was found guilty in the World Court.

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A discussion I had a while back on the U.S. education system and classism.

Clicky: U.S. Education and Classism.

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The recent events regarding the breach in the comparatively short 40-foot security fence that runs between Gaza and Egypt at the end of January have brought some long-needed attention back onto the much larger Israeli West Bank Barrier. Back in July of 2004, I was condemning this larger security wall, pointing to the unanimous World Court decision that found the barrier to violate International law. Thanks to U.S. backing, Israel ignored the Court’s decision and has been expanding the wall steadily for over four years. The Barrier is now more than 260 miles long and while its route runs mostly along the 1949 Armistice line, or “Green Line,” much of the infrastructure deviates from several typically agreed border lines and cuts into Palestinian land.

West Bank Barrier

Furthermore, since it’s inception, the barrier has cut off, split up and been one more excuse for Israel to raze Palestinian homes, worsening the endless crisis of internally displaced persons already set into motion by Israeli settlements and occuptation. Without the Wall, refugees could, in time, move on to some other place and reestablish themselves. Now, the Wall gives them no where to go and no way to get there even if they had a destination. In addition, the wall has cut off supplies including food and medicines. The intense need for these basic materials was highlighted by flood of goods that gushed over the border immediately following the breach of the Gaza-Egypt wall. Additionally, the Security Barrier actively strangles the Palestinian economy by not only restricting the flow of goods in and out of the West Bank but by denying Palestinian workers the freedom of movement–specifically their ability to get to and from work on a daily basis. And perhaps even more troubling is that the Barrier is future-proofing suffering by cutting off children from their schools, which will have long term impacts on the Palestinian economy and job markets.

The negative wake of this Barrier is already manifesting itself. Hard evidence has been gathered in the form of general misery and frustration on one end of the spectrum and a rising body count on the other. People can only go so long without their homes, access to foods, medicines and basic services, or a freedom of movement. Even the most critical cases, such as medical emergencies, routinely face the reluctance of the Israeli border guard to allow passage.  And, of course, I think it’s essential to point out that the Barrier is not even 60 percent complete.  The finished version is projected to span 436 miles and that means hundreds more destroyed homes, displaced peoples and more pain and misery to come as families and communities are split into pieces.

So the question is, is the Barrier worth it? Well, if you scan the headlines of the U.S. media, you’ll probably get caught up in the statistics that show that infiltrations into the Israeli homeland have been greatly reduced. In other words, where the barrier is complete, attackers are intercepted or are otherwise thwarted. This is a good thing, at least at face value. However, closer examination shows that, as journalist Amos Harel of Haaretz points out, “The security fence is no longer mentioned as the major factor in preventing suicide bombings, mainly because the terrorists have found ways to bypass it.” Even the Shin Bet (the Israeli equivalent of the U.S. FBI) believes the reduction in terrorist attacks is more likely due to better police work, the increased influence of Hamas, and most importantly, a general truce among Palestinian militant groups.

So while there have been fewer attacks on the Israeli homeland, and I’m sure the Barrier has played some factor in that reduction, the question about whether or not the ends justify the means remains open for debate. However, I refuse to narrow my moral playing field this myopically. I cannot agree with those who justify the Wall by pointing out the potential security gains. In the end, every person considered “protected” by this Barrier was made so by the blood, displacement and misery of others.

For me, the question is, “How many people need to have their lives destroyed before it becomes wrong?”

Sources and Further Information:

World Court Says Israeli Barrier Violates International Law – NYT:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/09/international/middleeast/09CND-WALL.html?ex=1202965200&en=2f2937d8fe096a70&ei=5070

Shin Bet: Palestinian truce main cause for reduced terror:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/objects/pages/PrintArticleEn.jhtml?itemNo=664916

Displaced by the Wall:

http://www.badil.org/Wall-Report.pdf

General assembly establishes register of damage arising from construction of wall by Israel in occupied Palestinian territory – U.N.: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2006/ga10560.doc.htm

Israeli West Bank Barrier:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_West_Bank_barrier

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