Bar Ilan University
Bar Ilan University - Kobi Snitz (Dept. of
Mathematics) in Amherst claims Israel has no right to build a
defensive wall to keep out terrorists
For more details and to see the full
in all, it's another wall
Bruce Lerner, Collegian columnist
Several weeks ago, Rateb Abu Rahma and Kobi
Snitz, members of the group "Faculty for Israeli - Palestinian
Peace," visited the University of Massachusetts and the surrounding
area. Their talk was titled "Bil'in, Village of Resistance," and
referred to a town where non-violent resistance led to an Israeli
court ruling to redirect a portion of the wall that goes through the
area. The event was poorly attended at UMass but nevertheless proved
to be very informative and was greatly appreciated. It was a
privilege to have people who have experienced Israeli crimes
firsthand come speak for the sake of spreading knowledge and
nurturing concern for innocent people on both sides of the conflict.
The speakers' message was clear: the separation that Israel has
built along the West Bank is a hindrance to people's lives in the
region and must be torn down if peace is desired.
First of all, one thing must be noted. The wall
(and it is a wall, not a security fence) is completely unlawful. The
International Court of Justice ruled in 2004 that building the wall
is "contrary to international law." Any discussion of the separation
wall must have as its central tenet this crucial fact of the wall's
inherent illegality. Even before one turns to the physical and moral
implications of the hideous concrete barrier, the fact that it
stands contrary to the somewhat basic legal obligations of countries
in the international community has to be taken into consideration.
However, considering that the discussion of international law is
egregiously absent from mainstream U.S. publications, there are many
other reasons to knock the wall down.
First, to make a moral argument, the wall is
completely harmful to the Palestinian people. It snakes through
Palestinian land, fencing off valuable land and water resources and
effectively starving people to death. These resources belong to the
Palestinians, and the Israeli elites have no right to them. It has
been noted that the average Israeli has as much drinking water as a
Palestinian farmer has to grow his crops. This drastic inequality is
unjustifiable and the wall serves to further the discrepancy and to
steal the very livelihoods of the people who live in the West Bank.
One must remember that many of the affected people are innocent
children who have committed no crime except that of having dark skin
in the Middle East.
The racism that politicians and concerned
American elites spout is quite apparent. One thing that Snitz said
during his talk was very interesting. He said we should replace the
word "Palestinian" with the word "Jew" when we talk about the
reasons for building the wall. Imagine someone, especially in the
United States, talking about building a security fence for
protection from Jewish terrorists and radical Judaism. It sounds
absurd, just as it is when the word Palestinian is substituted. The
Palestinians are not terrorists to be corralled off - they are
victims who have basic human rights that are not being respected by
the governments of the United States and Israel. Both of these
points were made on the UMass campus recently.
Another reasonable point to make about the
construction of the wall is that it is impeding progress to peace,
the very thing that people like Bush and Sharon say they want in the
region. Ignoring the obvious hypocrisy and lies in the words of the
above-mentioned world leaders, peace cannot be accomplished while
people are subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment. Simply put,
vicious practices breed hate and especially retaliatory violence,
some justifiable and some not, the unjustifiable being known as
terrorism. Any actual attempt at peace would take into account the
other side and its wishes. Anything less than this should be
considered a cruel joke, just like the Annapolis peace conference.
The Faculty for Israeli - Palestinian Peace
stressed that students can and should get involved in the process
for justice and peace in Israel/Palestine. The organization offers
opportunities for students to travel to the occupied West Bank and
Israel to see with their own eyes what people go through and to help
the situation. The speakers stressed the importance of international
outcry in ending the occupation and urged people to become active.
Their message was powerful and offered a taste of the type of
success people can strive toward.
Bruce Lerner is a Collegian columnist. He can
be reached at email@example.com.