February 23, 2004
The New York Times

A Wall as a Weapon

by Noam Chomsky

It is a virtual reflex for governments to plead security concerns when they undertake any controversial action, often as a pretext for something else. Careful scrutiny is always in order. Israel's so-called security fence, which is the subject of hearings starting today at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, is a case in point.

Few would question Israel's right to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks like the one yesterday, even to build a security wall if that were an appropriate means. It is also clear where such a wall would be built if security were the guiding concern: inside Israel, within the internationally recognized border, the Green Line established after the 1948-49 war. The wall could then be as forbidding as the authorities chose: patrolled by the army on both sides, heavily mined, impenetrable. Such a wall would maximize security, and there would be no international protest or violation of international law.

This observation is well understood. While Britain supports America's opposition to the Hague hearings, its foreign minister, Jack Straw, has written that the wall is "unlawful." Another ministry official, who inspected the "security fence," said it should be on the Green Line or "indeed on the Israeli side of the line." A British parliamentary investigative commission also called for the wall to be built on Israeli land, condemning the barrier as part of a "deliberate" Israeli "strategy of bringing the population to heel."

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. . . .


Uri Davis, "Israel: An Apartheid State," Zed Books Ltd., 1987

"3000 NGOs brand Israel "Racist Apartheid" State," Reuters, September 2, 2001

[Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon? Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions? Have they forgotten that God cares deeply about the downtrodden?--Desmond Tutu, " Apartheid in the Holy Land," Guardian, April 29, 2002]

Leila Farsakh, "Israel: an apartheid state?," Le Monde diplomatique, November 2003

Uri Davis, "Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within," Zed Books Ltd., February 7, 2004

Virginia Tilly, "It's Location is not the Point," CounterPunch, February 26, 2004

Richard Ben Cramer, "How Israel Lost: The Four Questions," Simon & Schuster (May 4, 2004)

[The International Court of Justice has said the barrier Israel is building to seal off the West Bank violates international law because it infringes on the rights of Palestinians. . . .

The nonbinding opinion also found that Israel was obligated to return confiscated land or make reparations for any destruction or damage to homes, businesses and farms caused by the barrier's construction.-- "UN court rules West Bank barrier illegal,", July 9, 2004]

Anthony Browne and Ian MacKinnon, "Israel and US defy ruling on 'illegal' security barrier," The Times, July 10, 2004

[A recent report by the House of Commons international development committee pointed to the leverage available through making European trade agreements conditional on Israel's compliance with international law and security council resolutions (all flouted by Israel).--Gerald Kaufman, "The case for sanctions against Israel: What worked with apartheid can bring peace to the Middle East," Guardian, July 12, 2004]

"Torn Apart: Families split by discriminatory policies," Amnesty International, July 13, 2004

[150 nations voted in favour of dismantling the wall, 10 abstained, and six - Israel, the US, Australia, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau - rejected the motion.--Matthew Tempest, "UN calls for Israel to tear down wall," Guardian, July 21, 2004]

[The court's opinion leaves Israel entirely free to build a wall within its pre-1967 borders.--Gregory H. Fox, "What the Court Really Said About Israel's Wall," Washington Post, July 22, 2004]

Nathan Guttman, "Presbyterians divest themselves from Israel," Haaretz, August 5, 2004

"Human rights group says Israel conducts apartheid-like policy on West Bank roads," Associated Press, August 9, 2004

[. . . since 1967 approximately 650,000 Palestinians have spent time in Israeli prisons, which amounts to about 40 percent of all Palestinian males--Gideon Levy, "A nation of prisoners," Haaretz, August 22, 2004]

Aluf Benn, "UN agent: Apartheid regime in territories worse than S. Africa," Haaretz, August 24, 2004

Chris McGreal, "Israel seeks funds for separate Arab roads," Guardian, September 6, 2004

Chris McGreal, "Anglican group calls for Israel sanctions," Guardian, September 24, 2004

Donald Macintyre, "Israeli destruction of Palestinian homes 'violates international law'," Independent, October 19, 2004

Conal Urquhart, "Israel's new road plans condemned as 'apartheid'," Guardian, December 5, 2004

Jane Lampman, "From churches, a challenge to Israeli policies," Christian Science Monitor, December 6, 2004

Chris McGreal, "Israelis use barrier and 55-year-old law to quietly seize Palestinians' land," Guardian, January 31, 2005

"World Council of Churches Considers Divesting," New York Times, February 23, 2005

Shamai Leibowitz, "Israel: A Call for Divestment," The Nation, March 16, 2005

Lizette Alvarez, "Professors in Britain Vote to Boycott 2 Israeli Schools," New York Times, May 8, 2005

Grey Myre, "Israeli Barrier in Jerusalem Will Cut Off 55,000 Arabs," New York Times, July 11, 2005

Henry Chu, "Israeli Anthem Doesn't Speak to All Citizens," Los Angeles Times, August 10, 2005

Report: "Knesset Enacts Racist Law," B'Tselem, August 10, 2005

"Norwegian county boycott of Israel ires Jewish groups," Associated Press, December 22, 2005

[Others, on the left, question why the US's six million Jews have the right to become Israeli citizens while tens of thousands of foreign workers and Palestinians who live there and speak Hebrew do not.--Conal Urquhart, "Fury as Israeli writer criticises US Jews," Observer, May 14, 2006]

Donald Macintyre, "'Racist' marriage law upheld by Israel," Independent, May 15, 2006

Tamara Traubmann, "U.K. lecturers' union approves academic boycott of Israel," Haaretz, May 29, 2006

Virginia Tilley, "The Case for Boycotting Israel,", August 5, 2006

Amira Haas, "Can you really not see?," Haaretz, August 29, 2006

Greg Myre, "Israeli Visa Policy Traps Thousands of Palestinians in a Legal Quandary," New York Times, September 18, 2006

Jimmy Carter, "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid," Simon & Schuster (November 1, 2006)

Editorial: "A racist Jewish state," Haaretz, July 20, 2007

Ruth Eglash "Is Israel an 'apartheid' state? This U.N. report says yes,", March 16, 2017




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