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Build Peace – Not Walls



The “Christians United for Israel” evangelical organization, CUFI, had recently brought an Israeli Colonel, Dan Tirza, to the Sacramento Conservative Jewish Congregation of Mosaic Law, to do some “Hasbara.” The Hebrew word for explaining, and informing in a patriotic way. As the chief architect of the “Security Barrier,” he was to explain to the congregants – who, by the way, needed no explanation or persuasion on the matter – why the “Barrier had to be Built.” Colonel Tirza who, according to himself and to the CUFI local official who introduced him, had participated in previous peace negotiations between Israeli diplomats and Palestinian officials, was bombastically justifying (he actually refused to use the microphone, and spoke loudly, directly to the disciples) the need for building the notorious Separation Wall. Or Separation Fence. Or Separation Barrier. Or the Apartheid Wall, as the Palestinians call it. Call it what you will – indeed, in its short time of existence it has accumulated many names – it most definitely built a notorious, nasty reputation for itself.

To the delight of my fellow congregates, the Colonel first gave a short explanation as to why Israel had to build the fence. (According to him, it is 95% barrier fence, and only 5% barrier wall.) Following the collapse of the Oslo Accords, he proclaimed, and the eruption of the Second Intifada, which caused many civilian casualties, death and injury in Israel, the necessity for the barrier had become a reality. Naturally, he squarely blamed the Palestinians for the collapse of the peace negotiations and the Oslo Accords. Hence the need for the fence/wall. (Let’s settle here on this compromise: fence/wall.) What he clearly forgot to mention, purposely I believe, was that much of the fence/wall “is built outside the 1949 Armistice Line (Green Line), annexing potentially 10 percent of Palestinian land,” (per the UN in Wikipedia). “It cuts far into the West Bank territory at places, and encompasses Israel’s largest settlement blocs containing hundreds of thousands of settlers.” Annexation de facto, I call it. Not less important, to my mind, he forgot to mention that the Oslo Accords had collapsed mainly because one Jewish religious extremist – supported from the back, directly and indirectly by many others, including Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of the opposition then – who took the law into his own hands in the form of a handgun, and assassinated Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Prime Minister, who was about to make the peace accords a reality.

Typical oversight, when you do such “Israeli Hasbara” to American Jews. Because you see, the collapse of said peace initiative, and any and all other peace initiatives to follow, is exactly because Israel has refused to make peace following PM Rabin’s assassination. You might call me to order here, and remind me of Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat at Camp David. Correctly so. However, what Ehud Barak had tried to achieve, with a strong helping hand from President Bill Clinton, was destined to failure from the get go. Yes, Yasser Arafat was a fool not to accept this peace proposal. But no, it had no chance of success no matter what. In Israel there were forces, led by strongman Ariel Sharon, who were already taking upon themselves to derail that peace initiative by any means necessary. Result: they brought about the current unending, unresolved conflict. Yes, following the Oslo Accords some of the Palestinians continued to arm themselves, and resist the occupation. (Shame on them, really.) And yes, Israel – systematically and purposely (shame on them, too) – continued to build settlements on the land the Palestinians are supposed to have a state of their own. Under these circumstances, there was no chance for peace. Therefore, the architect of the “No Peace” strategy, the builder of the “Managing the Situation” policy, i.e. PM Netanyahu, had asked the Colonel to be the architect of that fence/wall.

It reminds me, strangely enough, of the nonchalant remark attributed to Marie Antoinette: “Let them eat cake.” Since the French people had no bread, as result of the long natural famine and human corruption, then let them eat cake. In our case, by analogy, if you don’t have peace, you have the fence/wall. That the citizens of France were hungry, and might’ve simply needed better economic policies and distribution of wealth and resources, was not something the queen could comprehend. With King Bibi it’s the same. (Don’t wait for the revolution, though, it may never come.) And so, if we don’t have peace, citizens of Israel, let’s build walls. Because for peace, as is the case with bread, you need to work. And because the fence/wall will prevent the Arabs from attacking the Jews. And, as anybody and his brother will tell you, that’s why the notorious wall was so successful. It prevented all those terrorist attacks. The citizens of Israel are now living peacefully, separated from their enemies.

Well guess what – terribly sorry to break it to you, my friends – last month two Palestinians from the West Bank infiltrated Israel in spite of the “enormously successful” fence/wall, and murdered in cold blood four Israelis enjoying themselves in the bustling center of the beautiful, peace loving city of Tel Aviv. Previous to that, in about six months, numerous terrorist attacks in that same fashion had occurred in Israel, mainly in Jerusalem. (This week an exposé in the NY Times documented very clearly how the Security Barrier isn’t secure at all; Palestinians in the West Bank are crossing, and jumping over this wall at will to work in Israel in large numbers.) So what’s next, maybe a dome. A bubble. Like in Stephen King’s novel Under the Dome. Cover the whole state with a bullet-resistant, bomb-resistant dome, and our brothers and sisters in Israel will live forever in peace and tranquility under that dome. In the absence of peace (i.e. bread), let them have a dome (i.e. cake). Where is this Colonel now, when we need him again? Hopefully, Mr. Donald Trump is yet to hire him to build that wall on the border of America and Mexico.

But let me end, this time, with the words of someone else, much wiser and accomplished than yours truly. At the end of his very successful, deeply researched and absorbing PBS TV Documentary series, “The Story of the Jews,” historian Simon Schama – who explored the story of the Jewish people from ancient times to the present day – is standing and walking slowly in front of the huge Separation Wall. Among other things, stressing a caveat to his right to speak on the matter, he says this: “Today in Israel the distance between dream and reality can be measured in hundreds of miles of barb wires and concrete… The bible is full of encounters between men and god, between men and other men, between even enemy brothers. It’s very difficult for me to stand here and say that that’s kind of Judaism, the Judaism of openness, of encounter, has chance of new life here. This is Judaism, a Jewishness that looks, scurries beneath the shadows of these towns for safety. It’s not ultimately a Judaism of bravery. It’s not ultimately a Judaism of life.”

* The “Leave a Comment” link is the last tag below, in blue.

2 Responses

  1. So,,,,,,, which wall are you opposed to? The West Bank wall, I think. But what about the Gaza wall? I certainly hope you favor that wall. And of course there is the Egyptian section of the Gaza wall. And oh,,, what about the walls that the host Arab countries put up around refugee camps holding their fellow Arabs? What about the wall between the USA and Mexico? Yeah,,,,, Trump stole Obama’s idea. Or Hungary’s new wall? What about the reasons for these walls?

  2. I need to reply to this: ” was bombastically justifying (he actually refused to use the microphone, and spoke loudly, directly to the disciples”. He refused to use the microphone because it was Shabbos and he was religious; trying to turn it into something else weakens your viewpoint.

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