On some days, looking at Israel's security barrier close up doesn't give the
viewer much of a sense of an international controversy.
Driving around the area covered by the fence near Jerusalem earlier this
month on a hot Friday afternoon, I saw little that would have justified the
hypocritical condemnations of the world. Even in those sections where the media and
protesters have regularly gathered to decry the "apartheid wall," there was
quiet and little sign of the dust-up that has attached itself to its creation.
Stripped of those scripted demonstrations by foreigners and canned complaints
by local Arabs in those quiet hours before Shabbat, it was possible to see
the barrier for what it is and is not. That is something the body in the Hague
that calls itself an International Court of Justice was unable or unwilling to
Stand near it and look one way, and you can usually see Israel's population
centers, where going to a restaurant has become an experience akin to visiting
an inner-city jewelry store, where you need to be buzzed in by wary owners.
Look the other way and you can often see Arab villages, from whose streets
armed gangs and suicide bombers have risen to strike at their Jewish neighbors.
Look closely and you'll see most of these villages are not the
poverty-stricken stereotypes adored by broadcast television cameras, but bustling towns whose
growth has continued despite the self-inflicted collapse of the Palestinian
SIMPLY SITTING DUCKS
But according to the International Court of Justice, Israel has no right to
build a defensive barrier. The Palestinians, it seems, have been granted a
unique honor in the history of international discourse: They have been accorded an
internationally recognized right to commit terrorism. On the other hand, the
court has handed the Israelis a distinction that is nothing new to the Jewish
people: the right to die.
Ignoring the fact that it was Palestinian terror that built the Israeli
fence, the court, acting at the suggestion of the U.N. General Assembly, has issued
a ruling that historians will view as yet another indicator of how Jew-hatred
was back in style little more than a half century after the Holocaust.
While Israel's right of self-defense was acknowledged, the international
court effectively denied Israel the ability to carry out such a defense while also
refusing to place the building of the fence in the context of terrorism. But,
of course, the intent of this travesty as with much of the propaganda
offensive carried out by the Palestinians and their fellow travelers in the last
four years is not to knock down the fence.
Their goal is much broader: the delegitimization of Israel and Zionism itself.
After a decade of failed peace talks and terror, the overwhelming majority of
Israelis have had enough. To protect themselves against a Palestinian terror
war, they are building a fence whose purpose seems as much to separate the two
populations as it is to prevent terrorism.
The international court says the fence should run strictly along the 1949
armistice lines that served as Israel's border until 1967. But the problem with th
at argument is that it prejudges the disposition of the territories to
which Israel has as good a legal claim as the Palestinians, a right acknowledged
by the statements by both President Bush and Democratic presidential candidate
John Kerry that Israel has the right to retain portions of the territories
and would effectively make sitting ducks all of the nearly 400,000 Jews who
live in Judea and Samaria, as well as in parts of Jerusalem occupied by Jordan
from 1949 to 1967. That's exactly what Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and his
Those who say that the path of the fence is being dictated by Israel's
"expansionist" agenda, instead of security concerns, have it backward. As a number
of Israeli sources have told me over the past couple of years, had security
and security alone been the only criteria for its route, it would have been
built far deeper into the West Bank, with many more Palestinians ending up on the
Israeli side so as to enable its route to make more strategic sense.
even in the fence route criticized by some Israelis as taking in too much
land, its boundary is set to minimize the effect on Palestinians and run as close
as possible to the areas where the targets of Arab terrorism actually live.
Some Israelis wonder how much help the fence will be in the Jerusalem areas
where growing Palestinian villages abut both sides of the barrier. But there's
no question that statistics show that completed portions of the fence
elsewhere have drastically reduced the number of Arab attacks.
As for the question of the inconvenience and hardship the wall has created
for the Palestinians, the answer is simple. Had they not launched a war in
September 2000, instead of accepting Israel's offer of peace, no fence would exist.
And even then, Israel's own Supreme Court has shown itself willing, as it did
two weeks ago, to force the army to reroute the barrier to accommodate
NOT ROOTED IN REASON
Viewed near or far, the fence is ugly, but how can a reasonable person argue
with Israel's right to build it? Opposition to it is rooted not in a quest for
peace, but in a desire for Israel's eradication.
The question isn't whether Israelis will quiver in the face of new
international calumny or even further efforts by Arafat's forces to kill Jews, such as
last weekend's bombing in Tel Aviv. They won't. Its people have coped with the
trauma of terror, and have, for the most part, not allowed the Palestinians
to disrupt their lives. The streets in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem remain full; so
are some of the restaurants and hotels, as long-absent tourists have started to
return this summer as the intifada has fizzled out in yet another defeat for
But the real question in the aftermath of the latest outrages from the United
Nations and its kangaroo court is for us in the United States. Ironically,
some in this country are now urging a greater reliance on the United Nations and
the European Union, in spite of the fact that these institutions are closely
identified with the deligitimization of Israel that the court ruling
represents. The decision on the fence ought to remind us of the dangers of being pulled
along with what passes for international opinion.
When global bodies enshrine Jew-hatred in law, as this court has done, decent
persons everywhere should tremble.