The Wall

 

Today we visit (among other things), Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity.  It’s a good day.  However, to get there we need to pass through one of the ugliest things in the country — namely, the security fence erected by Israel in recent years (hundreds of kilometers long) to separate areas of Israeli Jewish population from the Palestinian territories of the occupied West Bank.  (Bethlehem is an Arab town on the West Bank.)  Here are some photographs, so that you can have an idea of the thing:

 

Like the great wall of China?

 

It’s fairly imposing

 

Some, oddly, aren’t pleased with it

 

Many would like it opened up

 

The message, in English,
is aimed, to a large degree, at America

 

A nod toward Michelangelo’s Sistine ceiling

 

Remembering John F. Kennedy’s speech in Berlin

 

Posted from Jerusalem

 

 

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  • Darren

    Dan;

    Wouldn’t you say that the wall Israelis erected has reduced bombings and killings?

    • danpeterson

      Yes, I would.

      It’s still ugly and sad.

      • Darren

        While i fully support havin the walls erected, I agree it’s ugly and sad for both needing them and the restrictions is places on human freedom. How I wish for a world without walls.

  • Craig

    Yes, the palestinians would like to open it up because it has stopped their genocidal campaign to kill all the Jews in Israel. Your photos are also misleading. Most of the wall is not concrete barrier, but a simpe fence, and did it ever cross your mind to ask why the Israelis had to build the thing in the first place. If the Palestinians don’t want a wall maybe they should start acting like Human beings. If the Nephites had built a wall to keep out the Lamanites their society might have lasted longer.

    • danpeterson

      “Yes, the palestinians would like to open it up because it has stopped their genocidal campaign to kill all the Jews in Israel.”

      There is no “genocidal campaign to kill all the Jews in Israel,” and there certainly isn’t one on the part of “the Palestinians” as a whole.

      “did it ever cross your mind to ask why the Israelis had to build the thing in the first place.”

      No, it didn’t. Why not? Because I already knew.

      Did it ever cross your mind that I might not be an ignoramus on this issue?

      “If the Palestinians don’t want a wall maybe they should start acting like Human beings.”

      Most of “the Palestinians” DO “act like human beings.”

      Silly sloganeering and absurd overgeneralizations won’t help anything.

      • http://www.whatdomormonsbelieve.com Thad Gillespie

        Hear, hear!

  • MP

    Not as ugly as broken bits of people all around you.

  • http://www.whatdomormonsbelieve.com Thad Gillespie

    MP, suicide bombers are motivated largely by things like this wall.
    If you had no vote, no Constitutional guarantee of petition for redress, no free speech, no money, property that is frequently seized by settlers, and the army routinely walked into your home at 1:00 am to take pictures of you, you might begin looking at violent ways to express your displeasure, too. (Isn’t that what the 2nd Amendment is all about?)

    I don’t support bombings, and I don’t support suppression of human rights, either.

    • MP

      Thad, a subset of Palestinians were bombing Israeli neighborhoods before the wall went up. A large subset (based on their voting, I’d have to say it’s a majority) of them approved of the bombings. That wall stopped the bombings. It’s ugly that it needs to exist, but beautiful that little children can ride the bus without getting blown up.

      Perhaps someday anti-Semites will stop killing Jews (including the continuing rockets falling into Israel). That day will be when that wall can come down.

      • http://www.whatdomormonsbelieve.com Thad Gillespie

        The wall is only a band-aid applied to a much deeper problem. The reason Palestinians demonstrate violently isn’t because they are unthinking beasts who innately hate all Jews, but because they are actively oppressed by the state of Israel.
        Palestinians are children of our Father in Heaven. He loves them. I love them, too.

        • MP

          To think that the Palestinians fight the Jews because they’re oppressed is delusion. The Arabs and other non-Jews who live, work (and vote) in Israel love it there. They don’t want to live with the crazies who have elected leaders who embrace blowing up children.

          And note: targeting children intentionally is evil. Yes a majority of people called Palestinians have embraced it as policy. There is no room for disagreement on that point.

          • http://www.whatdomormonsbelieve.com Thad Gillespie

            MP, you are saying that you understand the Palestinians’ true motivation. Please tell me why they instigate their attacks.
            Please point me to the policy document that you are referring to (the one that endorses targeting children). I would like to read it.

          • Darren

            Rhad;

            “Please point me to the policy document that you are referring to (the one that endorses targeting children). I would like to read it.”

            Here:

            “SHA’AR HANEGEV REGIONAL COUNCIL – A 16-year-old boy was critically injured by an anti-tank missile that exploded near a school bus outside Kibbutz Sa’ad, shattering windows.

            The bus driver also sustained shrapnel wounds to his leg and several people were treated for shock. ”

            http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/insideisrael/2011/April/Palestinians-Target-Israeli-School-Bus/

            And:

            ‘JERUSALEM, Dec. 24, 2012 – Palestinian armed groups in Gaza violated the laws of war during the November 2012 fighting by launching hundreds of rockets toward population centers in Israel.

            About 1,500 rockets were fired at Israel between November 14 and 21, the Israel Defense Forces reported. At least 800 struck Israel, including 60 that hit populated areas.

            The rocket attacks, including the first from Gaza to strike the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem areas, killed three Israeli civilians, wounded at least 38, several seriously, and destroyed civilian property. Rockets that fell short of their intended targets in Israel apparently killed at least two Palestinians in Gaza and wounded others, Human Rights Watch said.

            “Palestinian armed groups made clear in their statements that harming civilians was their aim,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “There is simply no legal justification for launching rockets at populated areas.””

            http://yubanet.com/world/Gaza-Palestinian-Rockets-Unlawfully-Targeted-Israeli-Civilians.php

          • http://www.whatdomormonsbelieve.com Thad Gillespie

            I do not view the Palestinians as infallible innocents; they certainly have blood on their hands. I mainly hope to show that Israel isn’t innocent either, and in fact, they exacerbate the problem.
            http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stats/children.html

          • danpeterson

            Precisely.

        • Darren

          If the Palestinian problems are Jewish Israel’s falt, than why do Islamists attack Hindu and Christians in Idonesia as well? Are Muslims oppressed by Hindus and Christians around the world?

      • danpeterson

        You do understand, I hope, that Palestinians in particular and Arabs in general are “Semites.” I know that “anti-Semite” is often used to mean “anti-Jewish,” but, strictly speaking, it’s wrong.

        • http://daversramblings.wordpress.com/ David Richards

          Antisemite is taken to mean anti-Jewish because that’s what it was specifically coined to describe in the 19th century, including by self-described antisemites – it really is, strictly speaking, the correct definition of the word, and applying it to all Semitic speakers would de falling for the etymological fallacy (for comparison, likewise being anti-American isn’t taken to mean a deep and abiding opposition to the policies of Honduras).

          That doesn’t take away from the major point, of course, which is that Palestinians as a whole, however, are not universally antisemitic, although regrettably such attitudes do exist and are entangled in the conflict.

          • danpeterson

            I understand how “anti-Semitic” has historically been used. I don’t think it’s committing an etymological fallacy to think that the term ought to be understood to mean what, in fact, it clearly means.

          • http://daversramblings.wordpress.com/ David Richards

            Except what the word clearly means, based on its invention, popularisation, overwhelming historical use and present definition and current usage, is hostility towards Jews. It has always meant that from its origin. To insist it ‘ought to’ mean something other than what it does mean based purely on its composite terms is to make an etymological argument (thus even concerns about the occasional spelling with the hyphen – see here: http://sicsa.huji.ac.il/hyphen.htm ). The very ‘ought’ admits that the word presently does not mean that.

            Under what other grounds than the etymology should the meaning of the word be changed? Is there even a pressing need for a term to describe hatred of all Semitic language speakers and yet an utter lack of need to retain the historical and presently used term that describes prejudice towards Jews?

          • danpeterson

            It’s not just etymology. It’s the plain meaning of the words “anti” and “Semitic.”

            It’s not as if I’m arguing that “anti-Catholic” should really mean “anti-universal.” That would be an etymological argument.

            “Semitic” is never used to mean, exclusively, “Jewish.” “Semitic languages” include more than Hebrew. The use of “anti-Semitism” to mean only hostility toward Jews/Judaism is misconceived, and reflects its Eurocentric, provincial origins.

            I realize that I’m on the losing end of this argument in terms of probable success. I also dislike the word “helpmeet” and object to the use of “literally” to mean “metaphorically” (as in “I’m literally starving” and “He was literally ten feet tall”). These are quixotic battles, and I know that I have no hope of winning. But I care about precision in language.

          • http://daversramblings.wordpress.com/ David Richards

            On much the same topic, Bernard Lewis puts it well: http://middleeastinfo.org/library/lewis_antisemitism.html

          • http://daversramblings.wordpress.com/ David Richards

            “It’s not just etymology. It’s the plain meaning of the words “anti” and “Semitic.””

            Hence why it is often used without the hyphen (which follows the usage by Wilhem Marr, the fellow who bares most of the responsibility for inventing and popularising the term, using “Antisemitismus” and “Antisemiten-Liga”). You’re talking about the meaning of the words anti and the word Semitic. I’m talking about the meaning of the word antisemitic. They are not the same, particularly since the word came into English from German, and first used in reference to German literature – it was not created in English by merging the terms anti and Semite.

            ““Semitic” is never used to mean, exclusively, “Jewish.””
            It was, by Wilhem Marr in the 19th century (or strictly speaking, “Semitismus”). And of course in the 19th century there was a whole confusion between language groups and “races” – particularly important as the use of the term represented a shift away from religious hostility towards Jews towards appealing towards pseudo-scientific, racialist reasons.

            “The use of “anti-Semitism” to mean only hostility toward Jews/Judaism is misconceived, and reflects its Eurocentric, provincial origins.”

            Since we’re speaking in a European language, and we’re talking principally about a European phenomena, that can hardly constitute an objection.

            I care about precision too, but this is a very different case from use of the word literally – antisemitic has always, from its invention, meant hostility to Jews. Considering its subsequent blood-soaked history (and history inevitably plays a role in language), we should hesitate before trying to redefine the word purely due to its component terms.

          • danpeterson

            We disagree.

            And I think that my disagreement is important, because the most vocal anti-Semitism that I encounter these days — and that I have been encountering a very great deal since the Boston Marathon bombings (committed by ethnic Chechens!) — is focused on mostly undifferentiated Arabs/Muslims.

          • http://daversramblings.wordpress.com/ David Richards

            Since a majority of Muslims aren’t ‘Semites’ by any description (and I’ve not known anti-Muslims to distinguish between Arabs, Persians or Pakistanis…), that wouldn’t seem to fit your definition of the word either.

            And one doesn’t need to call anti-Muslim prejudice antisemitism to condemn it. And since the crowd who want to deport all Muslims (as I’ve seen raise their head on some places) and the sort who claim the Jews own the BBC (as regrettably expressed by fellow students in my MA Islamic studies course just a few years back) rarely overlap at the moment, one risks robbing the term of any real descriptive value. Which, again, historical vandalism of an understandably sensitive subject, never mind that it still exists.

          • danpeterson

            I’m not sure why you want to continue with this, but you’re surely welcome to do so.

      • http://www.whatdomormonsbelieve.com Thaddeus

        If the Palestinians were using guns instead of bombs and rockets, would you defend their “right to bear arms” against an oppressive government regime? (Similar to the American Revolutionary War?)

        • JohnH

          If they were using guns then they would more likely be targeting valid military targets rather then night clubs and buses. They would be nearly as hopelessly out gunned as Israel was in its early days, or perhaps as America was in its revolution, but they would be fighting in a valid manner I can respect.

  • Craig

    Dr. Peterson, if you don’t want me to consider you an ignoramus then stop being ingnorant. Contrary to your dhimmini propaganda the vast majority of palestinians (and Muslims in general for that matter) DO support the extermination of Israel and the Jewish people. This is not rhetoric, this is not some islamophobic generalization. It’s from their own mouths. Every time an opinion poll is taken the vast majority of the palestinians say they are in favor of terrorism, support Hamas, and think Israel should be wiped out. Saying that the palestinians don’t want that might make you feel righteous and morally superior, it doesn’t make you right.

    And if the palestininians don’t have constitutitional freedoms who’s fault is that? The Isrealis are no longer in Gaza, they keep out of the West Bank and the let the Palestinians run their own affairs. If there is no free speech it’s because their own leaders won’t allow it. If there are no civil liberties it’s because their own leaders won’t allow it. The Jews are useful scapegoats but that doesn’t mean there’s any truth to what you say.

    • danpeterson

      “Dr. Peterson, if you don’t want me to consider you an ignoramus then stop being ingnorant.”

      Nice touch, that. Misspelling “ignorant,” I mean. I really appreciate irony.

      Why is it, I wonder, that people of your particular anti-Islamic stripe are so consistently, personally nasty? I’ve had encounters with about six of you over the past couple of weeks here and on Facebook, and you’re essentially interchangeable.

      “Contrary to your dhimmini propaganda”

      Another nice touch. Misspelling “dhimmi.” It certainly inspires confidence in your mastery of the relevant subject matter.

      “the vast majority of palestinians (and Muslims in general for that matter) DO support the extermination of Israel and the Jewish people.”

      Even if, for purposes of argument, we stipulate that the vast majority of Muslims would like the state of Israel to cease to exist, that is not at all the same thing as wishing the extermination of the Jewish people, or literal genocide. Please try to think and write more clearly.

      “Saying that the palestinians don’t want that might make you feel righteous and morally superior, it doesn’t make you right.”

      If you were to calm down and stop your hyperventilating, you would see how wildly disproportionate and, in fact, irrelevant your insults are to what I actually posted.

      “The Jews are useful scapegoats but that doesn’t mean there’s any truth to what you say.”

      But my blog entry didn’t actually say any of the things that you seem to think it said.

    • Lucy Mcgee

      Craig- What are your credentials? Care to cite any study which bolsters your assertions? When you write “vast majority”, what does that mean? Are you taking your data from PEW, or elsewhere, or just making things up?

    • http://plainandpreciousthing.blogspot.com/ Rozann

      Reply to Craig-Actions do speak louder than words. I used to believe that if we’d just get the mothers together we could solve the problems in the Middle East; then I read of the pride of the Palestinian mothers at their suicide bomber sons. I guess Satan has gotten to even the mothers over their. There may be peaceful, moderate muslims but they must be in the minority or else too frightened to speak out against the destruction of Israel as a country and the Jews as a people.
      To Dan Peterson- Your love of the people and area may have biased you to the realities in the greater Middle Eastern world. Where is the leader speaking up for a peaceful coexistance with Israel? Why the constant bombing and attacking? When a county can’t be left alone to live and work in peace they must do whatever they can and will to protect themselves from the evil forces calling for their eradication. Unfortunately, we know that peace will not come until the return of the Prince of Peace himself.

      • http://plainandpreciousthing.blogspot.com/ Rozann

        oops I meant “over there”

      • danpeterson

        I’m sitting here in Jerusalem as I write. I’ve lived in Israel on two separate occasions, and visited it more times than I can count. I lived in Egypt for four years. I’ve spent time in Iran, and considerably more time in Turkey, and have also spent various amounts of time in Jordan, Malta, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia. I’ve studied and taught about the area, including its languages, for decades.

        It amuses me to be told that I’m probably blind to the reality of the Middle East. Particularly when it seems that those telling me that I’m blind don’t actually seem to know or understand what I think about the place, and when it seems very likely that they’re far less familiar with the area than I am.

  • Lucy Mcgee

    Palestinians face a debt crisis, which means the public health sector is but the latest victim. Foreign aid has dropped since 2011 which has caused an avalanche of business failures. People are poor, and with little hope. This has created an environment for continued terrorism as Thad noted. Without a major infusion of money, no reliable peace will occur. The Palestinian Authority won’t survive if aid dries up. Follow the money.

    I would ask if Craig has ever lived his live in a society plagued with abject poverty; has he ever lived confined behind a wall? It means little to sit at a computer in a first world nation and make unlettered assertions. Anyone can do that. But to actually put yourself mentally in the place of those who struggle every day is a much more difficult matter. It requires compassion and the willingness to put aside ones’ bias.

    • Darren

      The way I see it, if poverty bred terrorism than the “vast majority” of the world’s population would be terrorists. I also don’t view Osama Bin Laden as having been raised poor. Islamists are a serious threat to everyone in the world. These are they who spur anti-Jew attacks and rile the populous up to hate Jews and America.

      • Lucy Mcgee

        Darren, imagine if your homeland was taken and you were forced to live under the control of those who were the invaders. And imagine further if those invaders were aided by the most powerful nation on earth, given weapons and aid which eventually led to their economy thriving and yours being reduced to one of impoverishment and control.

        The first reported female suicide bomber in Palestine was a volunteer ambulance worker who had been displaced and had lost everything. She saw, first hand, the violence committed against her people daily. She was 28. This hour long documentary may offer some insight:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOsB2lYhid8

        • Darren

          It is NOT Israelis which reduce Palestinians “to one of impoverishment and control” but the Palestinians which impoverish and enslave them. After the Jews took official control of Israel, control the Palestinians did not have, many ofthe Palestinians left to neighboring countries and those countries launched an outrigt attack upon the Jews. These countries, all six of them, lost decisively. Since then, the Palestinians have resorted to terrorism to fight the Jews. No, not “all” Palestinians do this but as a collective whole, tyes, the are guilty of terrorism. It is the Palestinian choice to be terrorist, including suicide bombings, which impoverishes them and makes them slaves; not Israeli policy. In fact, the latter would guarantee Palestinians the right to vote and worship. The Palestinians, on the other hand, would hardly be so generous upon the Jews.

          It is not poverty which causes terrorism but terrorism which causes policy. The Palestinians are to blame for Palestininan misery; not Jewish Israel.

  • Nate Oman

    Dan: When American Islamophobes start demonizing the Palestinians en mass as violent jihadis and insisting that Israel can do no wrong, I always wonder if their rhetoric would change if they realized that a sizable percentage of all Palestinians are Christians. If the Israeli occupation of the West Bank was cast as “Jews oppressing Christians” rather than “Israelis defending themselves against terrorists,” would the knees jerk in different places? It’s not that I somehow think that Israeli actions would be worse if they were committed against Christians or are more forgivable if committed against Muslims. It’s just that I think that a lot of conservative Americans, especially of the Evangelical variety, would be less rabid if they could see the humanity of the Palestinians.

    One of the things that is really awful about the Wall is the tens of thousands of Palestinians that it has thrown out of work, and the reduction in commercial contacts between Israelis and Palestinians. It both further impoverishes the Palestinians and massively reduces the ability of market interaction to act as a salve to violent identity politics. (Insert reference to Montesquieu and the doux commerce argument here.)

    It surely reduced the number of terrorist attacks in Israel, but I am hard pressed to see how walling the Palestinians off and then systematically encroaching on their remaining land with settlements and running a perpetual police state is a good long term solution for the Israelis. As near as I can tell from Likud right on the Israeli political spectrum, the long-term plan is to simply harass the Palestinians out of every bit of desireable real estate in Israel or the West Bank and use the Israeli military and security forces indefinitely to manage the resulting violence and resentment. That strikes me as fundamentally nuts as a long-term strategy.

    • Lucy Mcgee

      Israel has been the benefactor of tens of billions in aid which includes the latest in weapons of war, while all the while, across the wall, people suffer and die, lose their land, their business, and their hope. As long as parents look at their kids and see no future, there will be a tendency toward violence. Bin Laden used the oppression of Palestinians as a building block for his terrorist network. Anyone who can’t agree that the destruction of the economic well being of a population hasn’t provoked terrorism isn’t looking hard enough.

    • http://www.whatdomormonsbelieve.com Thad Gillespie

      Nate, I think you’re right. Stories of Christian Palestinians could change the course of the narrative dramatically. Do you know of any?
      Walling off sections of countries certainly doesn’t seem viable long-term, but “negotiating with Muslim terrorists” isn’t too palatable to the wealthy American Christians dumping money into Israel’s political chests. Israel can’t change course or they risk having important spigots turned off.

    • danpeterson

      An excellent post.

      I’ve been thinking along similar lines, and may try to do something (small) about it with a Deseret News column in the relatively near future. I routinely find that many Americans can’t distinguish between “Arab” and “Muslim,” and that, consequently, they fail to recognize that a significant (though sadly diminishing) proportion of Palestinians are, in fact, Christians.

    • Darren

      “I always wonder if their rhetoric would change if they realized that a sizable percentage of all Palestinians are Christians.”

      When Christian Palestinians controlled Beruit, there was no problem there betwen Bereit and Israel. That changed dramatically when Islamists took control of that area (with the blessing of liberal US policies to my understanding). Reagan sentthe troops but frankly I’d argue that he pursued the liberal policy of not allowing them to engage theenmy and the result was disatrous. Reagan then took the libertarian approach and withdrew the troops. I for one am of the mindset that once you send in the troops you unleash them; if you’re unwilling to do so, it’s better not to send them in the first place.

      “It’s just that I think that a lot of conservative Americans, especially of the Evangelical variety, would be less rabid if they could see the humanity of the Palestinians.”

      To respond to this portion of your hypothetical, I’ll openly question why you attack conservatism and Evangelicals in particular? While I too disdain the broad charactiturizing of Islam by some from the Evanglical faith, their support for Israel is really not that wrong. In fact ,keeping Jewish Israel safe keeps the US safe. You call for recognition for the Palestinian humanity and if you do so by calling for peace then I’ll give you the road map to peace. After the Golan Heights was used many times asa staging front to launch m,issiles into Israel, Israel responded by completely decimating the military batteries and all Palestinian forces located there. Since then there really has been no more attacks from that area upon Israel. To the contrary, look what has happened when Israel turned over the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians, missiles have been launched ever since. That did not happen when Isarael occupied the area. The conservative approach works and works affectively. I think within Israel the Likud Party understands this more than the other political parties and thus I support their position of power there.

      “One of the things that is really awful about the Wall is the tens of thousands of Palestinians that it has thrown out of work, and the reduction in commercial contacts between Israelis and Palestinians. It both further impoverishes the Palestinians and massively reduces the ability of market interaction to act as a salve to violent identity politics. (Insert reference to Montesquieu and the doux commerce argument here.)”

      Agreed.

      “It surely reduced the number of terrorist attacks in Israel, but I am hard pressed to see how walling the Palestinians off and then systematically encroaching on their remaining land with settlements and running a perpetual police state is a good long term solution for the Israelis.”

      I’m no expert but I say with confidence that if the Palestinians cease their terroristic attacks, the wall will come down. The purpose ofthe wall is not to box in the Palestinians, despite if that what it affectively does, but to stop assasinations, which, as you acknowledge, does do that.

      ” As near as I can tell from Likud right on the Israeli political spectrum, the long-term plan is to simply harass the Palestinians out of every bit of desireable real estate in Israel or the West Bank and use the Israeli military and security forces indefinitely to manage the resulting violence and resentment.”

      That’s complete rubbish. In fact, Id say that’s far more ignorant than radical Evangelicals declaring Islam a Satanic cult. Get the Likud Party out and I think it’s safe to expect an increase of Palestinian terroristic aggression.

      • danpeterson

        I would like to learn more about this era, apparently fairly recent, of excellent relations between Israel and a Christian-led Lebanon.

        Can you suggest any books on the topic?

        • Darren

          Ummm, “books”? What are those? ;)

          I get most my info from the net. I scrounge around and develope trust from certain websites and those are the ones Inpay attention to. Pajamas Media, National Review, and Human Events are thre sites which I pay attention to for current events and insightful views on various national and world. The website I frequent most to b.go is hamous.org. The site’s owner, hamous, is pretty smart as well as Shannon and Texpat who are part of the site’s administration. These three people are very knowledgable with national and world affairs. On hamous’ site, I’ll send out a “bleg” for reading materials on Lebenon and when it was dominated by Christian Palestinians and let you know the feedback. Blogs usually don’t work for me but I’ll still give it a try tomorrow.


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