March 26, 2008

Fencing Israel

Posted in conflict at 6:05 pm by greensstoptheboycott

An unpolemical piece by Haim Watzman in Orion Magazine about the impact of the security barrier on desert life. It ends:

“Like Boral (and Bar-Hai and all the other Israelis I quote here), I have fought for this land in wars and conflicts. When a piece of land is part of your history, your religion, your identity, when you’ve defended it and seen people die for it, you want to protect it, preserve it—and possess it. And yet these feelings do not trump the fact that another people live on this land and feel no less powerful an attachment to it. I do not wish to be a part of a society founded on an injustice, so I support the Palestinians’ right to have their own country, even if it means giving up this place to which I am so fiercely attached.

As a former soldier, I know that added security for my country often means misery for the Palestinians. The fence is meant to protect me, but it will scar the land we share. As a lover of and frequent hiker over its mountains and through its canyons, I cannot bear to see the desert also under attack. But I do not want to return to the days of the bus bombings, when I had to fear for the lives of my children when they took public transportation to and from school. There are no ideal solutions here, only risks, and a choice between a set of unattractive options. That is part of our tragedy.”

March 20, 2008

On Israel’s separation barrier

Posted in conflict, israel at 3:27 pm by greensstoptheboycott

One of the reasons cited by Green would-be boycotters is what they like to refer to as the ‘apartheid wall’.

‘Apartheid wall’ is a misnomer calculated to associate Israel with apartheid South Africa. For an examination of the difference between Israel and apartheid South Africa, there is a very cogent piece by John Strawson on Engage and a Z-Word essay on franchising apartheid by Rhoda Kadalie and Julia Bertelsmann about how the apartheid analogy has evolved and been contested in South Africa.

See also Mohammad Darawshe who reviews the good and improving state of Israeli law – and it is law which is important if you want to make an apartheid analogy – while criticising Israeli civil society for its lagging vision. Mohammad’s organisation, The Abraham Fund Initiatives (TAFI), has brought about real, strongly-felt changes in Israeli society including changes in policing policy, partnerships between Jewish and Arab local government officials, and a vast increase in uptake of Arabic on the Israeli school curriculum. This doesn’t look much like apartheid to me. TAFI recently set up a UK office.

For a short critical assessment of the separation barrier which doesn’t insult its readers by serving up Israel as a cartoon villain read Israel’s separation barrier: the best of the worst by Haim Watzman.