Friday, April 24, 2009

Good fences build good neighbors

There was a small story in today's J'lem Post about a demonstration against Israel's security fence. A few years ago I was asked by a family friend if I supported the fence, and this is what I wrote her.

"You wondered what I thought of the fence that Israel started, and has since pretty much stopped, building. I've heard every argument against it - it separates families, is a land grab, doesn't promote peace, isn't a long-term fix, etc. But I’ve also witnessed the Islamic fundamentalists who rule the Palestinian territories separate families, try to take the land of Israel away from Israel, and destabilize peace efforts. I've also seen the wall in person, and how it affects the communities, and I support it.

There is a fundamental flaw in the way the whole conflict is reported in America and Europe. It's framed as a land and/or border dispute between two sides who share a common goal of establishing a mutually agreed upon line of demarcation, but that's not an accurate picture. In fact, it's far from that.

Since 1948, the Arab countries in the region have slowly grown accustomed to Israel being a country. Being accustomed, though, is not the same as recognizing Israel's legitimacy - it's legal and fundamental right to exist. Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and even the countries Israel has peace treaties with (Egypt and Jordan) have said throughout the last 60 years that they will never acknowledge a country where Jews live if it lies between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, and they’ve acted on those words countless times.

The idea that the Muslim nation at-large has grown accustomed is really the fuel that fires the leadership of Syria, Iran, Hamas, Fatah, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, and the Muslim Brotherhood. These groups hate that there has been a general feeling of apathy towards Israel among their fellow Muslims, but they're operating within that apathy to change it, and it's been working. I’ve read about Fatah officials taking peace meetings with Israeli leaders supporting Israel’s right to exist, and then I’ve seen television footage taken the same day of the same Fatah officials making stump speeches in the West Bank and Gaza celebrating that the end for Israel is near.

For these Israeli enemies, the end of Israel is not a matter of "if," but "when." How people expect Israel to make lasting peace with nations and groups who don't want lasting peace is beyond me. The only time I've seen Israel's enemies give tangible and lasting concessions to Israel is when Israel beats them on the battle field. Those are the only times. For these reasons, my policy perspectives have gone into bunker mode, literally. There seems to be two options: negotiate, or out survive them. Negotiation with groups who only want to "end" you seems pointless to me, so that leaves only one option, and thank God Jews have been such great survivors (they've had to be because they rarely stand up for themselves).

If that's not enough, I'll throw in a few numbers. Between August 2001 and August 2002, 58 people were killed or wounded in the Israeli towns of Afula and Hadera. Since the fence went up between them and the West Bank, only 3 people have been killed. There was a drop from 17 terror attacks launched from northern West Bank in Israel from April to December 2002 to only five attacks from the area in all of 2003. When I see those kinds of numbers, I can’t find a reason not to support it seeing as the other side takes advantage of areas where no fence exists. If the human rights thing is an issue, having the right to defend yourself is just as important a right as any, and if a wall works, it’s better than all-out war."

No comments: