The fence will never be completed

Amira Hass


Adar1 29, 5765

Thousands of men beat their wives regularly. Once every few days or weeks a man murders his wife. Men murder streetwalkers, turn women into sex slaves, rape them, harass them at work, on the beach, on the street. Men, who control the power centers, perpetuate the economic discrimination of women in society.

Theoretically, the female half of society is threatened by very many in the male half. But nobody would think of suggesting imposing night curfew on men, for example, when a serial rapist is at large. Nobody would dare suggest, for instance, to make men sign a domestic non-violence commitment, on pain of imprisonment or suspension from work. The suggestion to take all men into preventive detention would sound no less imaginary. So would conducting courses to eradicate the treatment of women as private property from men's consciousness.

Society and the decision-makers choose the means to thwart civil violence on the basis of the threateners and their victims' respective place in society. Deciding when a threat - physical, emotional or economic - on numerous individuals ceases to be personal and becomes strategic, that is, it undermines the foundations of society, is political. It is not an exact science. The means to prevent and foil this threat derive from this decision.

In the public atmosphere that was created in Israel during 2001, the Palestinians' suicide bombings were perceived as a strategic danger. The fear experienced by every individual was self-evident. The fact that the fear was nurtured by ignorance, deliberate oversight and repression of the violence of the Israeli occupation made it no less real. But the Israeli policy makers manipulated the fear and still do. They presented the threat on Israeli citizens as a strategic threat on the very existence of the state. They took advantage of the justified personal dread of many people to advance their solution to the fear and threat: a separation fence.

They used the consensus of fear that the suicide bombings created in order to present the fence, in its invasive, destructive route, as the only possible solution. However, the character of the fence and its route were determined not on the basis of the real threat, but on the basis of Israel's political and real estate plans.

The construction of the separation fence is being carried out in the language of control that has evolved here since 1947, and has not been altered even in the years of the political negotiations at the end of the 20th century. In Israeli propaganda, Israel is the attacked victim, and therefore may do anything to protect itself. There is no correlation between the subjective feeling of the victim and Israel's objective - military - power and strong international status. The fence's route - with or without the High Court's kashrut stamp - clearly promotes the intentions to annex Palestinian land. These intentions were not stopped in 1994, with the Oslo Accords, but accelerated.

Israel usurped the lands of the Israeli Arabs and gave them to Jews, deprived the Arabs access to lands defined as state lands, and banished Palestinian residents of the West Bank from lands that have become synonymous with lands for Jewish settlers. In the same way, it is fatally damaging the private and public Palestinian lands along the fence. The process of construction and uprooting trees and saplings and demolishing greenhouses and water wells combines arrogance with contempt toward anyone who is not Jewish, and toward the international position. It does so as part of a basic, both open and concealed, master plan of usurpation.

While engaging in the honey-sweet military jargon of "humanitarian passes," Israel is turning blooming Palestinian territories into wasteland, in a cynical reversal of the ancient lie. While talking incessantly of temporality, the fence is demarcating the border between Israel and the state of prison compounds, and between the compounds and the settlements.

The constructed fence is continuing in its energetic destruction, but the fence will never be completed. because even after its construction is finished, it will perpetuate the policy of annexation, usurpation and severance. It will continue to cause disasters all around it. And again, especially during the talks of IDF pullout from this town or another, the Palestinians sometimes give the impression that they have grown accustomed to their disinheritance and have accepted it. But after a period of adjustment, the prolonged banishment will beget a new period of rebellion, which will lead to even more condescending Israeli "solutions" that will drive any chance of a just peace agreement further and further away.