Question of Palestine home
"As is" reference - not a United Nations document
Department of Public Information (DPI)
23 February 2004
The past week has witnessed an unprecedented outpouring of opposition to Israel's West Bank Wall in articles by Palestinians, Israelis and Americans in major North American newspapers and websites. Fourteen articles, their weblinks and brief excerpts are listed below.
Huwaida Arraf, Co-Founder of the International Solidarity Movement, "Tear it Down, It's an Oppressive Grab of Palestinian Land", The Detroit Free Press
A year and a half ago, the ISM was part of a similar effort with the villagers of Jayyous. However, despite the petitions, protests, sit-ins, and beatings and arrests of demonstrators, thousands of Jayyous' olive and fruit trees were destroyed. Seventy-five percent of Jayyous' farmland was taken from its owners. More than 200 greenhouses are now abandoned because Israeli soldiers forbid Jayyous farmers from crossing to their land. All of the village's wells fall on the other side of this "security" fence. Today, Jayyous is nearly surrounded by a 9-foot high razor-wire fence, equipped with motion sensors and security cameras. Jayyous' residents have to request special permission to enter and exit their village.
David Bloom, Co-editor WorldWar3 Report, "Letter from Jayyous", the Nation
On November 14 a stack of hundreds of permits was delivered to the municipality of Jayyous. Mostly the permits were for children, old men and women, and Jayyousians who currently live in places like Canada, Saudi Arabia or Jordan. Conspicuously absent were permits for any of the farmers who had participated in Jayyous's campaign of dozens of nonviolent protests against the wall in the preceding year. Or anyone who had a family member seized by Israel's security forces. Only 30 percent of the farmers who needed them could get permits, and they were issued for two months, until January 14. Of seven numbered items on the permit, the most salient is Number 6: "This permit does not prove your ownership of the land, or if you have a house there, this permit does not prove you are the owner of the house."
Noam Chomsky, Professor and Activist, "A Wall as a Weapon, The New York Times
What this wall is really doing is taking Palestinian lands. It is also — as the Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling has described Israel's war of "politicide" against the Palestinians — helping turn Palestinian communities into dungeons, next to which the bantustans of South Africa look like symbols of freedom, sovereignty and self-determination.
Marda Dunskly, Professor, "Build Bridges, Not Walls", The Chicago Tribune
The court will have to weigh the applicability of the 4th Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying power's use of collective punishment and de facto annexation, against a situation of non-traditional combat on both sides. The ruling could yield important consequences if the court finds that the barrier has legal implications. This would be a significant departure from the decades-old, failed approach to managing the conflict as a solely political matter. Advocated by Israel and supported by the United States, this approach views Palestinian rights as negotiable. They are subject, unlike Israeli rights to statehood and security, to the vagaries of a political process marked by a lack of parity between the two parties and the U.S. largely backing Israel.
Gary Fields, Professor, "Build Bridges not Walls, The Chicago Tribune
In these circumstances, the wall is creating a landscape of unintended consequences. In seeking to separate Jews and Palestinian, the wall is working paradoxically toward creation of a single territory. By seizing additional Palestinian land and obliterating any remaining geographical contiguity in the West Bank, it is undermining the territorial basis of Palestinian statehood and redefining the political choices open to Palestinians for resolution of the conflict.
Jeff Halper, Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition, "America is Complicit in Illegal Wall"
The US government sells massive quantities of sophisticated arms to Israel, a major violator of human rights according to the State Department, even though US law prohibits sales to countries designated as such. American arms intended to be used against armies -- F-16s, Apache helicopters with laser-guided missiles, tanks, and artillery -- are deployed against civilian neighborhoods and refugee camps. It provides an umbrella for Israel, enabling it to treat the Palestinians with impunity and steadily strengthen its occupation, yet avoid international accountability. It even provides funds -- tax dollars -- for Israeli-only highways connecting West Bank settlements to Israel proper. Is American support for the wall (with minor reservations) congruent with American interests? In a world in which the United States seeks to combat terrorism yet is seen as a bully toward Arabs and Muslims, is active involvement in repressing the Palestinian people truly constructive? Can US-Israeli unilateralism provide a sustainable approach to a better, more peaceful, more just world?
Jamal Juma', Coordinator of the Campaign to Stop the Wall, "A Noose Around the Necks of Palestinians", The Miami Herald
The wall is a noose around the necks of tens of thousands, soon to be hundreds of thousands. Palestinians see it clearly as the final stage in sealing their fate into lifeless reservations. As the barrier slices the West Bank, it facilitates Israeli control of some 50 percent of the occupied area and has already brought about the expulsion of nearly 15 percent of the population of Qalqiliya, the first city targeted by the wall. Here lies the fate of countless other communities if it remains.
Shamai Leibowitz and David Nir, human rights lawyer, physicist and activists, "Wall that Must Fall to Save Israel from Itself", The Houston Chronicle
We ask millions of Americans to apply pressure on the U.S. government to halt Israel from building this wall and from continuing its path to self-destruction. As Jews contemplating our history, we realize that the only path to safety is through mutual recognition, not domination. As the prophet Zechariah wrote: "These are the things you shall do: Speak truth to one another, render in your gates judgments that are just and make for peace." (Zechariah 8:16). We desperately need the loving help of the citizens of the free world. It is time for those who truly support Israel to bring down this wall.
Peter Lipman, Human Rights Researcher, "Barrier Violates International Law", The Seattle Post Intelligencer
During my two-month visit last fall to Israel and the occupied territories, I had many opportunities to see the dire effects of the wall on Palestinians' lives. I witnessed groves of ancient olive trees -- the livelihood of a people -- uprooted to make way for the wall. I saw acres of homes and shops demolished for the same purpose. Where the wall was already completed, I watched farmers who were trying to reach their fields forced to wait at locked gates surrounded by electrified wire and watchtowers. Often, at the end of a wasted day they were turned back, prevented from tending their crops. This, after enduring humiliating treatment from teenage soldiers, simply for trying to support their families.
Jessica Montell, Executive Director, B'Tselem, "Crossing the Line", The Baltimore Sun
The barrier is a political issue, but with legal ramifications. As the occupying power in the West Bank, Israel has a legal obligation to ensure the Palestinians' welfare. The occupier has the right to undertake security measures, but such measures must minimize harm to the protected population. Israel does not appear to have taken such care with regard to the separation barrier. Undoubtedly, Israel faces security problems. Regardless of how we have reached the current situation, and who is to blame, Israel must protect its citizens from suicide bombings and other indiscriminate attacks, which constitute war crimes. On this basis, Israel justifies building this massive complex of fences, trenches, walls and patrol roads to prevent Palestinians from entering Israel. However, the route Israel has chosen for this barrier turns a legitimate security measure into a land grab.
Ayed Morrar, Resistance leader from Budrus, "It must come tumbling down", The Toronto Globe and Mail
When Israeli construction crews began destroying our olive trees in November, schoolgirls left their chemistry books and old men marched with their sons to face the bulldozers and the soldiers. Forgetting political differences, our whole village showed up for demonstrations, often led by children carrying banners and women marching and chanting. In dozens of non-violent demonstrations since November, we've faced Israeli soldiers with only our signs, flags, and songs.
Iltezam Morrar, 15 Year Old Student from Budrus, "It Exists not for Security but for Apartheid", The Philadelphia Inquirer
Americans should know that, from our viewpoint, the wall is not a security wall. Security and safety do not come from stealing land (Budrus lost about 80 percent of its village area in 1948, when Israel was formed, and stands to shrink by another 20 percent if the wall goes up). Security does not come from killing or harassing people (there is hardly a family in Palestine without some member who has been killed, hurt or imprisoned) or cutting trees (which Israeli officials have started doing around my village). So this is not a security wall. It is an apartheid wall.
Sharif Omar, Jayyous Farmer and Community Leader, "This Wall Must Fall", Alternet
Last September I was working in my olive grove near the wall, when I came across uprooted olive trees coming out of the bulldozed ground. These green young branches are soft and beautiful, deeply rooted in the ground and stronger than the wall and bulldozers. These trees refuse to die or to surrender, and send a message to all farmers and people who love the land. "Do not give up, and keep struggling and one day you will touch the sun." We have been here longer than these trees, and we will stay here longer than the stones.
Marouf Zahran, Mayor of Qalqilya, Build Bridges, Not Walls, The Chicago Tribune
Sharon's vision is to confiscate as much Palestinian land as possible, leaving millions of Palestinians to live in ghettos--decaying, impoverished towns, caged by concrete walls, electrified fences and razor wire, breeding only hopelessness and despair. If Sharon gets his way, today's Qalqilya will be the prototype for tomorrow's Palestinian state. For nearly three years before the uprising, not a single Israeli civilian was killed inside Israel by an act of terrorism. There was no wall then, but there was a peace process and a genuine Palestinian belief that Israel would end its occupation and allow the Palestinians to live in the same freedom and security it demands for Israelis. Instead of reinstilling that belief, Israel is only creating more animosity. Since the wall's construction, the number of Qalqilya residents supporting Palestinian extremist groups has risen sharply. Sharon's wall is not about peace. It is not about security. It is about hate--the hatred that Sharon has for my people as non-Jews in what he wants as his Jewish state, the hatred he has for our quest for freedom and independence based on equality.