Wednesday, May 7, 2014

How is Israel's separation fence different than all the others?

How is Israel's separation fence different than all the others?

Mordechai Kedar

We all remember the onslaught of anti-Israel propaganda that followed the construction of the separation fence (between Israel and the West Bank). Who didn't condemn us back then? The media, politicians, artists, Palestinians, Arabs, Europeans, Americans, South Africans and even Israelis - all joined in with the chorus aimed solely at vilifying Israel, as the country sought to protect itself from the scourge of suicide bombings, which has claimed the lives of upward of 1,000 Israelis since 1993.

This preventive, non-violent measure that greatly reduced the number of terror acts on our streets was branded as racist by our neighbors.

A few months ago, Turkey began building a concrete separation wall along the border it shares with Syria to prevent infiltration of terrorists from the war-torn country, parts of which are effectively under the rule of al-Qaida. The response, or rather lack thereof, of the international media, academics and officials represents a prime example of hypocrisy, revealed here in all its ugliness. The international community keeps mum on this matter, as do the so-called human rights groups - that rush to the defense of all and sundry, provided they are not Jewish.

The Turkish separation fence proudly joins the ranks of the many other separation fences around the world, such as the ones between the US and Mexico; Saudi Arabia and Iraq; Saudi Arabia and Yemen; Morocco and all its neighbors; South Korea and its neighbor to the north; India and Pakistan; Pakistan and Afghanistan; Botswana and Zimbabwe; Thailand and Malaysia; Uzbekistan and Tajikistan; Kuwait and Iraq; the UAE and Oman; Morocco and the Spanish enclaves Sveta and Malia; Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, and the list goes on.

Yet for some reason, the only separation fence to enjoy worldwide notoriety is the one that delineates Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Jerusalem from Israel proper.

Some claim that Israel's barrier is unique in that it was built on land that does not belong to Israel. Yet the case of Turkey shows this is not true. Turkey's fence encloses ─░skenderun - a disputed territory that according to Syria was unlawfully handed over to Turkey by the French - under its dominion

Besides, what country is the West Bank a part of? According to the resolutions passed at the San Remo Conference in 1920 -- some of which had lay down the foundations for modern international law -- these areas belong to the Jewish people.

Thus, there is no escaping the conclusion that we get unfairly scrutinized by the international community, while it is only too happy to ignore whatever the Turks, Moroccans, Americans and all the others get up to. According to this vicious litany of condemnation, Israel alone is guilty of racist occupation and is the world's only apartheid state.

Therefore, I suggest that our national public relations operation furnish its speakers with data and photos of separation fences around the world. For there are still a few who, when confronted with evidence of discrimination against Israel, will come around and acknowledge the selective and biased nature of the anti-Israel criticism.

Mordechai Kedar is Director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation) at Bar-Ilan University, Israel.