Aaron David Miller and Jimmy Carter both said on Diane Rehm today two things that made me cringe. You can listen here to the whole hour, they start talking about the Apartheid Wall about half way through.
Both President Carter and Miller refer to the Wall as “impermanent,” and state that if it had been built on the 1967 borders, it would have been acceptable. Miller went so far as to say that “Nobody had any objection to the barrier if it were along the borders…”
This is simply untrue. While it is certainly the case that IF Israel ceased land confiscations in the West Bank and went back to the internationally accepted 1967 border, it would create a much improved situation for peace, it is also the case that the 1967 border separates Palestinian families from one another. The Apartheid Wall is
apartheid because it separates Arab people and families. The 1967 border is a partition border modified by war.
While Jewish Israelis can pass from one side of the wall to the other on special roads, Palestinian families cannot. The wall cuts off Palestinians who reside in the West Bank from their families who live in the Arab Israeli villages on the Israeli side of the Wall. Let’s remember that these are the original inhabitants of the land, and any barrier built on the 1967 border still separates Palestinian town from Palestinian town, and stops family members from seeing one another.
I stood with my friend on the West Bank side of the Wall, while she shouted across tens of meters of electric fence and barbed wire to her cousin, a Palestinian Israeli citizen. They were both crying. It is nearly impossible for them to visit one another.
The second issue is of the relative permanence or impermanence of the Apartheid Wall. It seems that the official discourse surrounding the Wall considers it impermanent. Sure, you can remove concrete slabs. You can remove miles upon miles of electric fence and barbed wire and ditch imposed on defaced hillsides. But you can’t erase the defacement that is blasted into the landscape. You can’t replace the entire neighborhoods of East Jerusalem that have been razed to the ground and buried under concrete and asphalt.
The physical evidence of entire communities has been decimated, as the physical evidence of the destroyed villages inside of Israel have been planted over with trees and built upon. This Wall will fall, but you can’t bring back what was destroyed.
Jimmy Carter spoke some truth when he said “It’s a disaster.”