Israel Builds Another Wall

Category: Middle East, World Affairs Topics: International Law, Occupation, Palestine Views: 6986

Before I built a wall I'd like to know
What I was walling in or walling out. 

Robert Frost

On July 9, 2004, fourteen of the fifteen Justices on the International Court of Justice delivered an 'advisory opinion' on Israel's apartheid barrier that accurately reflects the world's growing moral outrage against Israel's determination to push the Palestinians to the wall and beyond. Appropriately - and yet, to our shame - the only contrary opinion was rendered by Justice Thomas Buergenthal, an American.

The Justices declared that the wall being built by Israel, "the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around Jerusalem, and its associated regime, are contrary to international law."

The Justices informed Israel that it is "under an obligation" to stop work on the wall, dismantle those portions of the wall that have been built, annul the legislative regime erected to support its construction, and render compensation for the damage it has already inflicted on the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. 

Finally, the Justices called upon the United Nations - especially the General Assembly and the Security Council - to "consider what further action is required to bring to an end the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and the associated regime, taking due account of the present Advisory Opinion."

In these dark times, when American power has tied itself irrevocably - for the foreseeable future - to every Zionist aim against the Palestinians, be it ever so indefensible, the moral clarity of these judicial opinions will bring hope and encouragement to ordinary humans who do not always find it easy to sustain their struggle in the face of new oligarchies that practice their dark craft in the name of the men and women they trample upon methodically. Countering concerted pressure from the United States and its allies, the fourteen Justices, five from the European Union, have decided to apply the universal principles of justice to the actions of an Occupation that in its malicious intent, its devastating effects, its lengthening history, and its potential for fueling wars has no parallels in recent times.

Yet, as predictably as it is tragic, the Zionists in Israel and their allies in the United States - both Christians and Jews - have responded to ICJ's 'advisory opinion' with hollow cliches that carry little conviction except with a segment of Americans, some of whom are avowed Christian Zionists, others white supremacists, but most have been coaxed into hating Palestinians by a media that is both mendacious and malicious in the ways in which it constructs the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The Palestinians are terrorists and anti-Semites to boot; the Israelis, under threat and in peril, are their innocent victims.

In editorials and speeches ringing across Israel and America, a thousand apologists are protesting that beleaguered Israel is building a 'security fence' - not a wall - whose only purpose is to safeguard innocent Israeli civilians against the primordial violence of Palestinians. In the columns of the New York Times, of July 13 2004, a former Israeli Prime Minister, explains that this "security barrier" is "temporary," it extends into "less than 12 percent of the West Bank," and it does not kill Palestinians, it merely harms their "quality of life" while saving Israeli lives. The unsophisticate that he is, the Israeli Prime Minister of course cannot appreciate that a 'reduced' quality of life easily feeds into higher mortality. There are smarter ways of killing than in death camps with poison gases.

If the League of Nations, in the early stages of the Nazi campaign of ethnic cleansing, had had the moral courage to ask the Permanent Court of International Justice - the predecessor to the ICJ - to pass judgment on the legality of this campaign that, at this stage, included the herding of Jews into concentration camps, how might the Nazis have responded to an 'advisory opinion' that declared the herding of Jews to be in violation of international law and called the Nazis to immediately cease such actions?

The Nazis might have chosen one of several arguments in their defense. Given the overt racism of the times, they could have appealed to their historical right - as communicated by the World Spirit - to exclusive ownership of the German Deutschland; the Jewish interlopers in Germany had to be removed to make room for the original and rightful owners. Had they taken a defensive line, they might argue that the 'relocation' of Jews was a temporary measure, undertaken in the face of clear intelligence of British plans to use Jews as a fifth column in their war against Germany. Alternatively, they might claim that this was a humanitarian move, gathering Jews into districts set apart for them and where they would be free to observe the halacha, which they had been unable to do in the past. They were only making amends for past lapses. And, of course, they might have claimed that the Justices were ganging up against them, singling them out, driven by a new wave of anti-Germanism fomented by the British and Americans.

There is a terrible irony in the chorus of loud Zionist condemnations that have greeted the ICJ's ruling. To the eternal shame of the times, when the Jews were being herded into the concentration camps - where most of them would die - they had very little help from the Allied powers, the self-designated keepers of world conscience. The United States closed its doors to Jewish immigration. Certainly, there were no rulings from the Permanent Court on the barbarity of German plans of genocide. Bitterly, and justifiably, the Jews have accused the world of letting them die in the Nazi terror. No Courts, no governments offered effective support, material or moral.

No one came to the support of the Palestinians either, as the British awarded their country to the Zionists, as the British after occupying Palestine allowed European Jews to settle the country, form militias, and prepare to drive out the Palestinians. No Western publics raised a voice when 800,000 Palestinians were terrorized into fleeing their homes in 1948 and stripped of their right to return. No Western publics supported the Palestinians when they began to resist the Israeli occupation of West Bank and Gaza. Instead, taking the cue from Israel, the Western powers branded the Palestinians as terrorists, and refused to recognize their existence as a people. The moral indignation of the Western publics has only been aroused in the past decade, starting with the First Intifada, which revealed the brutal face of the Israeli Occupation, crushing, pulverizing, expropriating a mostly unarmed people.

Yet the Zionists today relentlessly accuse these Western publics of anti-Semitism, of singling them out because they are Jews. For too long, the Zionists have acted with impunity against the Palestinians, because they have succeeded in using the Holocaust to shield themselves against the censure of Western publics. That makes the Occupation a perfect crime, without any perpetrators. Better yet: the perpetrators became the primary victims of those they victimize.

However, lately, world conscience has been stirring, waking up to the insufferable conditions imposed upon Palestinians by the Israeli Occupation. World conscience is affirming itself in a hundred ways: in the Internationals who risk death to stop the demolition of Palestinian homes; in the willingness of the Belgian Court to try Ariel Sharon for war crimes; in the reminders by South Africans that this Occupation is worse than the Apartheid they had endured; in the academics who initiated a movement to boycott Israeli academics; in the students protesting investments in the Israeli economy; in the world-wide marches, protests and activism against the Israeli Occupation. And now the International Court of Justice has spoken, loudly and clearly, against Israel's apartheid wall.

Indeed, increasing numbers of Israelis are speaking out - even members of their armed forces, those who have seen the ugliness of the Occupation at first hand because they were its direct enforcers. Hundreds of Israeli soldiers have refused to 'serve' in the West Bank and Gaza, risking jail sentences. Other Jewish voices are being raised, warning that Israel is losing its soul, that the Occupation is brutalizing young Israeli men and women, who then brutalize their families, their spouses, their children. Increasingly, Israeli soldiers are taking their own lives. This is not a distant colonial Occupation, thousands of miles away from the European home base, that could be held down by a handful of soldiers and hired natives. Every Israeli - indeed a large segment of world Jewry - participates in this Occupation.

Is there a danger that the world may to begin to look upon Israel as the moral equivalent in our own times of a Nazi Germany? This 'moral equivalence in our times' does not require that Israel duplicate all the crimes of Nazi Germany. Instead, the world will be asking if, relative to the morality and the constraints of our times, Israel has gone as far as Nazi Germany did in more barbarous times, when the extermination of 'inferior races' was regarded as the right of White Europeans. 

It would appear that as Israel builds the apartheid barrier whose intent is to wall the Palestinians in, sealing them inside a few miserable Bantustans, it is simultaneously building another wall, invisible but no less solid in construction, that is walling Israel out, disconnecting it from the human community, its laws, its hopes and its sympathies. Increasingly, in the years ahead, the world will be asking this question unless it can see an end to the Israeli Occupation in sight.

M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at Northeastern University. His last book, Poverty from the Wealth of Nations, was published by Palgrave in 2000. Visit his webpage at M. Shahid Alam

  Category: Middle East, World Affairs
  Topics: International Law, Occupation, Palestine
Views: 6986

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Older Comments:
Walls throughout history have never worked, from the great wall of China, to the Berlin Wall. They invoke a sign of disrespect and confirm to the Palestinians that Israel has no intention of withdrawing from occupied territories, which will no doubt incite more violence. Israel should work harder to make peace with the Palestinians and share the land, and so should the Palestinians, both sides have to give a little for peace. As far as American aid going to Israel, it's a fact that over 70% of Americans do not agree with our countries stand on aid and support to Israel. Why it keeps happening is simple. Any politician who has spoken against Israel is branded an anti semite and his life and career is destroyed in the media. No politician who wants a future in politics in America will ever speak agaisnt Israel.

Salaam, Peter. My guess is America would not even have to outlive its usefulness - merely say no.

Personally, I hope Mel Gibson makes a movie about the Maccabees. If he does, I suppose the ADL will next be accusing him of mocking the Zionists for their intolerance.

Until you receive a copy of the Qur'an, perhaps you might try if you have not already done so.

Actually, Mr. Bergum is my father's name. And peace be unto you, Aisha Muhammad.

Seemingly every day the Zionists loose the support of past supporters such as Peter and myself. Personally, I prefer to remain hopeful that in time America will as a matter of policy turn away from promoting injustice in foreign lands such as Palestine.

I am currently wondering if American participation in efforts to force Palestinians from their lands could in some way be considered in violation of various Neutrality Acts. These acts were intended to keep the United States out of foreign conflicts - which some Americans seem committed to getting the U.S. into. Also, the claim that "God gave the land to the Jews" seems in contention with the First Amendment's premise that "the State is firmly committed to a position of neutrality" with respect to religion (contrary to public statements made by a number of U.S. officials supporting expulsion of Palestinians). At some point I am thinking that U.S. officials might wish to demonstrate a little impartiality in upholding the law of the land. You might well of course be right, Aisha - but hopefully I am not simply spinning my wheels.

In the meantime, a crisis in which America turned the other cheek is to me what seems more unlikely - with the notable exception of the USS Liberty. Historically, this seems to be something America's adversaries have often been unable to accept. As always, of course, Allah knows best.

(Wa salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.)

Mr.Bergum, I agree. It is only a matter of time before the Zionists turn on us, probably only until we no longer serve their purposes. I am not as naive as some others, and you may not know it, but many Jews sneer at our religion, and have called us (Christians) 'pagans' and other pejoratives.
I really came face to face with the reactionary elements in the Jewish community when the movie 'The Passion' was released. You may recall the furor that this supposedly anti-Semitic (an absurd allegation, to say the least) film made. I had Jewish friends that thought Mel Gibson's father was the member of some strange right wing Christian sect, and made judgemements about a movie they never saw. Gibson's father was Catholic, and there was nothing whatever anti-Semitic in his beliefs or the film. Some members of the Jewish community also have protested some of the Pope's selections for sainthood (why they think they have a say in my religion escapes me), and fit in very well with the evangelical christians for their pretension, arrogance, high handedness, and belief that their ends justify their means.
I know that being a Muslim in this country can't be easy, we must educate the populace about what Islam really is, and what is really going on in the world.
By the way, I am very interested int the Quran and intend to buy a copy as soon as possible.


Mr. Bergum
I think you are spinning wheels. What you've said has been called for; for more than 40 years. Israel is not going to tear down the wall nor is American money going to be divested. America supports this racist thing more than any other nation. More funding is given Israel from American money than anywhere on the planet. This is very wrong by any Faiths or Denomination standard.

Indeed, Peter, increasingly Christians seem to be wondering why the Chosen would require any help from the Goyim to conquer what supposedly already belongs to the Chosen. It appears that some of the Chosen are beginning to ask the same question. It would seem only a matter of time before one of them, in essence, "goes out and intentionally wrecks the relations with the gentiles" ( Surely it would require only a few of them - for example from that chain of settlement-supporters who were standing hand-to-hand from Jerusalem to Gaza - to get the job done - especially considering the sorts of things they have at their disposal. Have you ever heard of the USS Liberty? Perhaps Israel's next such attack on the United States will finally succeed in wrecking relations with the Gentiles.

While I certainly cannot see the future, it seems reasonable to imagine that some of the Zealots would turn against their latest "Puppet Empire" as Zealots once turned against a puppet empire some 2000 years ago. Regardless, such a betrayal would not likely bode well for Zionism here in America - nor would it likely bode well for so-called Christian Zionists, who would perhaps receive a little insight into what it has been like being a Muslim in America these past few years. I am confident that with the passage of time the truth shall become clear.

Also, if the very mountains were to join Jews in praising their Lord would Israel scheme to control the whole of Palestine? In any event there would surely be no shame awaiting those who turn ever in repentance to their Lord. In case you might be interested, this paragraph was partly inspired by Qur'an 38:17-26.

Peace be with you, Peter.

How does Israel justify by GOD this racist thing?
By the Most High GOD; in any faith this is wrong. The earth belongs to GOD. I believe that Israel has forgotten the injustices that they have suffered and with the help of the US Government, Isreal is acting as the devil they have claim to hate. Its sad that in the new millenium we are back to builing walls. And being guilty of shooting at people who only have rocks.
The penalty by GOD will be swift and severe.

Tear down this wall! Thank you Mr.Bergum for your comments concerning Christians, I might add that the Pope has long condemned the mistreatment of the Palestinians. Many Christians in the U.S. are simply unaware of what is happening or are misinformed aobut the situation (I know I was); for me it took meeting an old woman whose house had been stolen from her, leaving her with nothing. To this day I seethe at the injustice. I am sorry to say that before I was firmly yoked to the Zionist cause; I am so sorry. I think that if more people were apprised of the situation as it truly is (as I was), they would react appropriately. I submit that we must educate the Americans about the situation, and the Israeli government must be met with vigorous protest, I submit that we do this with passive resistance in the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr., thus, if the Israeli government does not respond the world community surely will.

RICHMOND, July 2 - The 216th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) approved several measures opposing the Israeli occupation of Palestine Friday, including a call to begin gathering data to support a selective divestment of holdings in multinational corporations doing business in Israel/Palestine. The vote was 431 to 62 to study matter. When a handful of commissioners expressed reservations about the action, Mitri Raheb, a Lutheran pastor from Bethlehem and guest at the Assembly, said divestment is important because it is a way for the churches to take direct action. For too long, he said, the churches have simply issued statements - and that is not enough. If you have time, please visit

NABLUS, West Bank, July 30 - Palestinian gunmen late Friday abducted three foreign church workers, including one American, Palestinian security officials said. They were released hours later. If you have time, please visit

For whatever it might be worth, I personally do not advocate divestiture. If anyone would like me to explain my thinking then insha'Allah I would be happy to do so. If not then perhaps I should quitely exercise patience and simply contemplate the situation. The point is that Christian relief workers are among the few outsiders to witness what is happening in Palestine and are now beginning to act on what they see (insha'Allah).

I am still quite hopeful for our sometimes seemingly disoriented ummah. News stories like those above however make it much easier for me to be hopeful. Alhamdulillah!