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Good fences make good neighbors


[This article predates the construction of the annexation wall. a later article discusses what Israel is really doing.] I was shocked to learn recently that there is no border fence dividing Israel from the occupied Palestinian territories. The reason is that expansionists want to annex these territories permanently. In their eyes, a fence would be an admission that those territories are not part of Israel, so they won't allow it.

The lack of border fortification makes Israel nearly defenseless against terrorism. The natural result is a large number of terrorist attacks against Israel. Unwilling to block attackers at the border, Israel tries to suppress them by attacking the whole Palestinian populace--a terror tactic which doesn't even work.

When Israeli forces "seal off" a Palestinian town, so that its inhabitants can't get to a hospital and may die as a result, when they cut off water to a town of 100,000 people, that's a brutal substitute for controlling the border. The whole range of Israeli retaliation policies, from demolishing families' houses to assassinations to tank invasions, are cruel and ineffective alternatives to a simple, harmless fence. The fence would require patrolling, like any border, but that would not involve violence against innocent civilians and would not push them into suicidal despair.

A fence is the non-terrorist way to protect Israel from terrorism. If the Israeli government's priorities were to keep Israelis safe and make peace possible, a fence would be the first step. That alone won't resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, but it would take a step towards a climate where a resolution could eventually occur.

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