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Author Topic: When Bad Neighbors Require Good Fences
research
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posted 01 August 2003 11:48 AM      Profile for research     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
August 1, 2003
When Bad Neighbors Require Good Fences

Facts on the ground in the Mideast.

The border security fence is comprised of many sections totaling scores of miles. Some sections are concrete, others sheet metal. The barrier is three layers deep in parts, fifteen feet high and surrounded by razor wire. The area around it is lit by spotlights, monitored by cameras, motion detectors and magnetic sensors, and patrolled by armed guards with attack dogs.

But enough about our border with Mexico, let's talk about Israel.

A year ago the Israeli cabinet approved construction of a security fence on the border with the Palestinian Authority. The first phase of the project, dubbed "Another Way," was completed this week, and covers a total of 150km. Other phases of the project are in various stages of execution. When completed, the security barrier will demarcate nearly the entire border between Israel and the purported Palestinian state, and therein lies a problem.
The issue is not the need for the fence, its effectiveness, or its legitimacy. Israel is attempting to regulate access by terrorists to its sovereign territory by erecting a defensible barrier. Similar walls along the Lebanese and Gaza borders have proven useful (though not impregnable). The logic is similar to that which led the United States to begin walling up the border with Mexico in 1991. Our fence restricts the flow of illegal narcotics and illegal immigrants into the country, both of which are issues of national security. Israel faces a graver national-security problem, namely physical assaults on its territory and people by armed suicide terrorists. Imagine how comprehensive the U.S. border-defense system would be if terrorists were coming north to blow up buses and shopping centers to protest the Yanqui occupation of Mexican lands seized in an unjust war of aggression over 150 years ago. One suspects that our response would not be limited to defense — when Mexican bandits made raids into the U.S. in the early 20th century we sent the Army across the border to clean things up.

The Palestinians have showered the security barrier with invective — "apartheid fence," "Berlin Wall" (particularly inapt since the Iron Curtain kept people in, not out), "ethnic cleansing," "terrorism" and so forth. They have raised several specific issues, such as the fact that the wall will disrupt movement — which, yes, is the whole point, but they mean commerce — and fragment existing communities. However, the fence is not intended to be a hermetic seal. In recognition of the reliance of Israel on Palestinian labor in certain agricultural sectors, 41 access ways have been constructed in the completed section of the fence, or about one every 2.25 miles. (On the U.S. southern border there is on average one port of entry every 50 miles.)

The most-significant problem from the Palestinian point of view is that because the fence will run their entire border with Israel, it will thus define that border, and the precise location of borders has been one of the more contentious issues yet to be negotiated (after they accept the right of Israel to actually have borders, that is). The first phase of "Another Way" was less controversial because its path was close to the "green line," the cease-fire line from the 1967 war that defined the Israeli border with Jordan, and which is accepted by most of the international community at least a few Palestinians as the official boundary of Israel. Future phases will deviate by some degree from the green line, encompassing many of the authorized settlements to the east and Israeli suburbs of Jerusalem. The fence will thus achieve by fait accompli what warfare and negotiations have failed to achieve. It will become the ultimate fact on the ground. Yet, like most fences, it has two sides. By defining Israel's border, it will also define Palestine's. The fence will be as much a statement of Palestinian territoriality as Israeli. It will mark the limit of officially sanctioned Israeli settlements, and mean an end to Israeli expansion. In fact, the fence was first proposed by Israeli leftists precisely to detach Israel from the settlement movement, which at its most radical opposes any border west of the Jordan River. Thus while the Palestinians may not be inclined to accept the route the fence takes (which is still largely yet to be determined in planning, let alone construction), the fact is that once completed it will go a long way to end the territorial question.

Palestinian politicians, having barely conceded that Israel has a right to exist at all, are not ready for such a concrete resolution of the issue. They would prefer to have open — ambiguous, easier to renounce, more readily penetrated — borders. But the PA cannot reasonably expect Israel to adopt the kind of open-border policy that the United States has with Canada, given the harsh realities of the security situation and the unwillingness of the Palestinian leadership to take concerted action against the terrorists in its midst. So long as the Palestinian Authority refuses to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, the security fence will be necessary. Palestinian Security Minister Muhammad Dahlan has attempted to defeat this reasoning by claiming "there's no such thing as a terrorist infrastructure." Well, that being the case, there's no such thing as a security fence either. Matter solved.

The Fence

[ 01 August 2003: Message edited by: research ]


From: Raleigh, NC | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged
cynic
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posted 01 August 2003 12:02 PM      Profile for cynic     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Well, that being the case, there's no such thing as a security fence either

But enough about East Berlin, circa 1961.


From: Calgary, unfortunately | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged
research
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posted 01 August 2003 12:10 PM      Profile for research     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by cynic:

But enough about East Berlin, circa 1961.


True-- but East Berlin, circa 1961 was about keeping people IN-- not out.


From: Raleigh, NC | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
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posted 01 August 2003 12:15 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I'm glad the article (source?) also mentioned the similar high-security fence along the US-Mexican border.
From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
worker_drone
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posted 01 August 2003 12:23 PM      Profile for worker_drone        Edit/Delete Post
quote:
The Palestinians have showered the security barrier with invective — "apartheid fence," "Berlin Wall" (particularly inapt since the Iron Curtain kept people in, not out)

To be fair, at the same time this wall is keeping Palestinians out of Israel, it's keeping them in their territory.

I'm not necessarily against the fence, but I read a very telling comment on another thread, in a linked article, that had a Palestinian commenting something to the effect of"why couldn't they have built the fence on their side of the line"? I think that's a valid complaint. If the wall has to go up, why can't it go up fully on the Israeli side?


From: Canada | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged
research
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posted 01 August 2003 12:31 PM      Profile for research     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by leftylicious:

To be fair, at the same time this wall is keeping Palestinians out of Israel, it's keeping them in their territory.

I'm not necessarily against the fence, but I read a very telling comment on another thread, in a linked article, that had a Palestinian commenting something to the effect of"why couldn't they have built the fence on their side of the line"? I think that's a valid complaint. If the wall has to go up, why can't it go up fully on the Israeli side?


That's a really good point-- and I argue that the fence should NOT be used to 'define borders'.

I think pressure has to be kept up on Israel to keep that on the front burner.

The argument about 'what side' the fence should be built really doesn't go anywhere in another sense, in that building it anywhere should not define borders.

It's a security matter, period-- and should stay that way, until defined and agreed borders are achieved.


From: Raleigh, NC | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged
cynic
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posted 01 August 2003 12:33 PM      Profile for cynic     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
True-- but East Berlin, circa 1961 was about keeping people IN-- not out.


Can anyone give an example of a fence that leads to peace? Is the Mexico wall an example of North American brotherhood? Are the walls in Northern Ireland bringing the Protestants and Catholics together in harmony?

Razor wire does not foster peace.


From: Calgary, unfortunately | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged
research
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posted 01 August 2003 03:27 PM      Profile for research     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by cynic:

Can anyone give an example of a fence that leads to peace? Is the Mexico wall an example of North American brotherhood? Are the walls in Northern Ireland bringing the Protestants and Catholics together in harmony?

Razor wire does not foster peace.


You're point is well taken-- but even with Mexico, there is no instance of democracies going to war with each other, fence or no fence.

Democracy is the vital issue here, not the wall.


From: Raleigh, NC | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 01 August 2003 08:29 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Another thread where an entire article is posted - please fix it.
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 01 August 2003 09:00 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
What a disgusting piece of writing. Right up front, the writer pre-empts any serious debate about the fence at all. He then revels in the fence in its role of creating "facts on the ground," and condescends to those silly Palestinians who are still resisting such (outrageous) facts.

There is no logical argument here, just a series of ever more arrogant assertions.

(I also don't follow his failed witticism about the Berlin Wall -- which certainly was meant to keep some people out, others in. This is a childish word-game.)


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mishei
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posted 01 August 2003 09:05 PM      Profile for Mishei     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Skdadl let's not be too cute...The Berlin Wall was built to keep people in. Pure and simple. Any different interpretation only negates the evil that Soviet style communism really was meant to be.
From: Toronto | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
'lance
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posted 01 August 2003 09:06 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
You're point is well taken-- but even with Mexico, there is no instance of democracies going to war with each other, fence or no fence.

France and Germany, 1914. Kaiser or no Kaiser, Germany was effectively a democracy.


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 01 August 2003 09:08 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Mishei:
Skdadl let's not be too cute...The Berlin Wall was built to keep people in. Pure and simple. Any different interpretation only negates the evil that Soviet style communism really was meant to be.

I'm not being cute. You are being simplistic.

The history of the Soviet empire is unlikely to be summed up in your "pure and simple" self-righteousness, Mishei. And if you don't think that the Soviets were worried about letting many many things and people in, then you just weren't paying attention.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
research
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posted 01 August 2003 09:50 PM      Profile for research     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by 'lance:

France and Germany, 1914. Kaiser or no Kaiser, Germany was effectively a democracy.


Well, arguably, that's ONE.


From: Raleigh, NC | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged
'lance
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posted 02 August 2003 12:42 AM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Chile v Peru and Bolivia, 1879-1884.

Or if that's too obscure, India v Pakistan.

Edited to add:

Screw it, I know I'll run out of patience rapidly if I try to continue this. Just read this.

[ 02 August 2003: Message edited by: 'lance ]


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
The Oatmeal Savage
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posted 21 August 2003 03:35 AM      Profile for The Oatmeal Savage   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
skdadl,
I've worked in the old soviet union for the last four years, Ronnie Reagan got it right when he referred to it as "An evil empire." It was quite simply, evil, by any definition of the word.

From: top of the food chain | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged
Mycroft_
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posted 21 August 2003 03:50 AM      Profile for Mycroft_     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
I've worked in the old soviet union for the last four years, Ronnie Reagan got it right when he referred to it as "An evil empire." It was quite simply, evil, by any definition of the word.

And how would you describe the mobster capitalism that exists in Russia today along with the drop in living standards, health and even life expectancy?


From: Toronto | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 21 August 2003 04:07 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
"A stunning success", of course - if you listen to boobs like that Sachs guy who spearheaded the pillaging effort - uh, I mean, conversion to capitalism - in Russia.
From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Willowdale Wizard
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posted 21 August 2003 06:11 AM      Profile for Willowdale Wizard   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
[The US-Mexico] fence restricts the flow of illegal narcotics and illegal immigrants into the country, both of which are issues of national security.

and, how succesful has that fence been since 1991? are we to believe that no illegal narcotics come in from mexico anymore or no illegal immigrants make it across the border?

it's naive to believe that the fence won't be used to create a defacto border. where else in the world do you have a security fence that splits a sovereign state down the middle?


From: england (hometown of toronto) | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged
Justice
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posted 21 August 2003 06:20 AM      Profile for Justice     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I think democracy is something relative and unstable, it fluctuates there are times in American history even in its recent history where it's been more democratic and times where it's been less. Any country that segregates it's inhabitants is arguably less democratic. I think democracies today are much different today then they were 50, 100, 200 years ago and so on. Greece was called a democracy but the truth is very little people actually had freedom or power to change anything. Democracy can also be hijacked like Germany in 1930's and be influenced by money and corruption like often happens in places like the US and many other places.

I guess you could call anarchy absolute but I wouldn't like to live that way I think anarchy is a far way from freedom and freedom is not absolute. I think the world needs some sort of structure and rules to prevent from hurting one another and ourselves.


From: Toronto | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged
Mimichekele2
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posted 21 August 2003 11:06 AM      Profile for Mimichekele2        Edit/Delete Post
I kind of have to agree with the Oatmeal guy. My workplace is full of people who emigrated from the former Soviet empire. It was a lot worse according to all of them than anything any of us ever imagined. Now that the Soviet KGB archives have become available to independent researchers as well as archives of the secret police in all the former Soviet Bloc countries, we know a lot more than was ever possible to know before 1989.

As for the Berlin Wall, the Stasi and KGB archives (Stasi=East German Stalinist secret police) are clear: the Wall was built to imprison people inside East Germany. During the Soviet Empire, I visited East Germany. Along the Wall in Berlin and elsewhere in Germany, the machine gun nests and towers and the automatic firing machines - "automatische Schussanlagen" (machine guns that were triggered automatically by foot steps inside the mine minefields leading up to the wall) ALL pointed inwards, towards the Communist side. None of the automatically triggered mines and machine guns pointed towards West Germany or West Berlin. The Wall was built to keep people inside the Soviet prison.


From: More lawyers, fewer bricks! | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
Mimichekele2
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posted 21 August 2003 11:13 AM      Profile for Mimichekele2        Edit/Delete Post
As for the Israeli Wall, I think the idea of putting it along Israel's legal borders on the Israeli side makes a lot more sense. That would not cut into Palestinian farmland and would not be such an affront to political sensitivities on both sides. Also, I suppose if the wall did not take in West Bank settlements, that could be seen as a sign of good faith and help lessen tensions temporarily.

Unfortunately, as usual, good ideas seem to arrive too late in that part of the world. Who said something about leaders over there never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity?

[ 21 August 2003: Message edited by: Mimichekele2 ]


From: More lawyers, fewer bricks! | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
The Oatmeal Savage
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posted 21 August 2003 03:40 PM      Profile for The Oatmeal Savage   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Mycroft,
It is just a different mob, the new gang of thugs is certainly no worse than the old gang of thugs. The people do have freedoms they didn't have before, number one, they have the freedom to leave. They also get to see how the west really is, not the Pravda view of it. Things are rotten over there, but there is room for a little hope that wasn't there before.

From: top of the food chain | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged

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