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June 22, 2002
A Fence or a Fantasy

By Ramzi Baroud


Not once does an Israeli official appear on television, address journalists or a crowd without exhorting Israel's desire for peace with the Palestinians. But on the ground, the Israelis have probably carried out every brutal policy imaginable to eliminate the chances of such alleged "peace" to ever be attained.

The Israeli policy is and has always been straightforward, speaking with the tongue of the prey while acting like a predator. It is no wonder Prime Minister Sharon and Foreign Minister Peres have done wonders together; the first is a war criminal, so is the other. But Peres is a sweet talker.

So as Peres brings tears to reporters' eyes in Europe, exclaiming Israel's commitment to peace and reconciliation, Sharon would be bulldozing people into mass graves in the West Bank. But how shrewd really is the Israeli tactic?

Israel is known for being opportunistic, too clever, its steps are often well-calculated, has no lasting friends in the world, willing to stab even the United States in the back (i.e. the bombing of the USS Liberty, repeated spying attempts, Jonathan Pollard scandal and the China arms sale are only a few examples), if it can possibly benefit from such betrayal.

When the Palestinian uprising exploded in tears and anger two years ago, Israel rushed to the Palestinian territories with all of its might, and the latest of its killing technology. It was the marking of a new area for the Palestinian struggle for freedom and statehood, but also a new low for Israel.

The casualties of the uprising or Intifada were calculated at a much faster rate than past Palestinian uprisings, including civilians, police officers and fighters, grouping Palestinians of all ages, genders and extending to include the entire occupied territories.

As Palestinians buried their dead, often having to collect their body parts or gather the remains of their ashes, Israel was boosting over the advancement of its weapons, rewarding its killers as heroes and offering no remorse to the families of thousands of victims, to entire nation in fact, besieged and humiliated.

The Intifada however quickly changed its tactics, seeing that all cries for help and protection Palestinians made before the apathetic "international community" were in vain. Palestinians too learned how to inflict damage, severe damage, making war, despite the incredible imbalance of power, somehow painful to both sides.

Israel, in most of its wars against the Arabs in the past has managed to enjoy relative calm. When parts of Egypt, Syria and most of Lebanon were rampaged and set ablaze by Israeli bombs, Tel Aviv was still a great spot for shoppers and vacationers alike. Even the illegal settlements in the West Bank and Gaza were a safe haven in the midst of ravished Palestinian land.

While the refugees fought for daily survival, between a murderous army and dire economic conditions, the settlements enjoyed industrial fishing lakes, large swimming pools, tennis courts and cheap yet fancy housing.

Pushed to the brink, following years of the inhumane polices of Israel, policies based on everything but the acknowledgment of international law and the humanity of Palestinians, Palestinian resistance groups adopted a policy that inflicted severe damage on the Israelis, army, militant community (settlers) and even societies outside the West Bank, Gaza and occupied Jerusalem.

The Israelis, not used to such heavy casualties lined up behind Sharon, angry and also desperate, pledge loyalty and almost entirely falling in the war camp. "Peace movements" in Israel were almost completely silence, and if they spoke out, they remained reserved and careful not to upset the consensus lined up behind Sharon and his so-called "national unity government."

Palestinian retaliation, which also inflicted heavy damage and also on the Israeli civilian population, was hardly awake up call for the Israeli government that violence begets nothing but violence, that war criminals like Sharon have achieved nothing but bringing despair, genocide, pain and anger, that a solution to the conflict would only come as a result of the honest implementation of international law, not the use of Apaches and directed missiles.

The Israeli Knesset, the elected parliament of the self-proclaimed "only democracy in the Middle East," turned to a Mafia joint where Knesset members would openly seek the assassination of top Palestinian leaders, applaud the murders of refugees and propose the killing of the families of wanted Palestinians as well as those who are wanted by Israel.

Starting with the shooting to death of little children like Muhammad Dura as he huddled beside his father in Gaza seeking his protection, to full scale massacres such as those in Jenin, Balata, Nablus and Ramallah, Israel has tried everything.

Meanwhile, Sharon and his cronies shot down every attempt to bring about a peace rearrangement, as early as Sharm el-Sheik and as late as rejecting the even lame and unfair Colin Powell's proposal of a "provisional" Palestinian state.

The Israeli government, backed by a large majority of the Israeli people, made it clear that they were only interested in pursuing a military solution, a murderous campaign targeted every Palestinian in the West Bank and Gaza. True, they killed many, but achieved little.

Just weeks after the temporary halting of the Israeli attacks on the West Bank where hundreds of Palestinians were left dead, where whatever was left from the Palestinian economic infrastructure was totaled, and where Arafat was besieged and humiliated, bombings inside Israel, and against soldiers and militants in the West Bank reached a record high level.

Despite an unprecedented security arrangement that sealed Israel from all directions, Palestinian men and women penetrated Israeli towns, blowing themselves up and with them blowing the Israeli policy or myth: murder-for-peace (vs. land -for-peace proposed earlier).

Now, when one would hope that the Israelis would wake up on the bloody reality they've created, Israel comes with yet a new strategy: a "security fence" that would stretch 350 kilometers, completely caging the Palestinians of the West Bank, while robbing thousands of dunums of land from their Palestinian owners, once again defying international law, the Fourth Geneva Convention and the most basic standards of human rights.

The experiences of decades teach us that the Israeli fence is yet another failing apartheid experiment that would garner nothing but more bitterness and reap more despair. The fence would of course strangle the barely standing Palestinian economy, and cut off Palestinians completely from the outside and from each others, as Jenin, Tulkarm and Qalqilya would be turned into small, separate entities, encircled by settlers, soldiers and fences.

However, the Israelis would still gain nothing, for their victims who were not deterred by 54 years of genocide and massacres will hardly be stopped by a fence, even with cameras and other devices. The fence is hardly a solution. It's part of the problem, the Israeli racist mentality.

Sharon however, shall gain another chance: six months for the fence to be built and several more months to be tested. During that time, the man would get the chance to lead yet more militant policies, to execute a few dozen more invasions, many assassinations and a massacre or two.

By the time the fence will prove a failure, and it will, the ever creative Israeli government shall find a way out while of course blaming the Palestinians for whatever new disasters to come about, but never itself.

One has to remember that Israeli fences are nothing new, for in the past, many refugee camps, large territories that belonged to the Palestinians were sealed, fenced, and often confiscated. Yet, such policies, while they further dehumanized and humiliated the Palestinians, they enforced their determination to rid themselves of the Israeli occupation, its racism and apartheid.

This giant fence shall be another reason of why Palestinians can never live under Israel's occupation. Their rejection, cries for justice and freedom extended throughout five decades and more, and not even a concrete wall can block the echoes of their voices from reaching to the other side of the fence.

By Ramzy Baroud
Editor-in-Chief (PalestineChronicle.com)

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