A Wall Against Fear

So what if the absurdity and baselessness of the fence idea have been revealed? It's not important, because the public so badly desires a wall against fear that no one will bother to ask questions.

There was never a rational reason behind the need to establish the "separation fence" or for the route the fence follows, but rather a psychological need that was avidly answered by politicians and generals who had no better ideas. The terrifying wall, which brutally rapes the landscape of hills and orchards and turns the lives of tens of thousands of people into hell, is first and foremost a psychological division of the world into two: on one side lies the protected area of the "home" where people are expected to live normal, peaceful lives, and on the other side, the threat of death, barbarism and terror.

To provide a remedy for the geography-of-fear syndrome, the Israeli government is prepared - with the fervent support of most of the public - to invest hundreds of millions of dollars; and the true significance of this witch-doctor's potion is hidden behind the argument over whether this is a "security" or a "political" fence.

This national project is on its way to gaining a place of honor among similar projects - all equally cynical, populist, wasteful and destructive - that were described at the time of their inception as the height of Zionism and the most ingenious defensive system, but whose initiators today deny all involvement with these white elephants that have faded into obscurity. As usual, of course, no one will demand accountability from the witch doctors: There is no price too great for national morale and the fence will never be tested in reality because there will always be those who will say that, had it not existed, the number of attacks would have been incomparably higher.

It is inherent in "national projects" of the "separation fence" kind that, at a certain stage of their execution, the absurdity of their existence will be revealed. This is what happened when the fence-builders came to Jerusalem and tried to set up the "envelope." The route that they chose follows, more or less, the same arbitrary line - lacking in all urban, security or political sense - that was drawn so hastily in June 1967. This line was dubbed the "Arak and cigarette border" because it was fixed in such a way as to leave the factories producing liquor and cigarettes outside the municipal boundaries of the reunited city. Its only purpose was to annex areas empty of Arab residents and to leave the populated areas outside the municipal border.

Now, 36 years later, when the entire urban space of Jerusalem (way beyond its artificial borders) is filled by hundreds of thousands of people, they wish to perpetuate the 1967 border "with essential corrections" which will make worse the existing urban distortion and turn the lives of 50,000 residents into a nightmare.

Those who are planning the fence do not even try to present proof that its route is based on security considerations since there is no way to explain why a concrete wall that divides inhabited homes and crosses fences and streets, has any security value, and why those living on the other side of the fence are more dangerous than those on "our" side.

In order to justify with "security reasons" the drawing of a political line that cuts off the Ramallah canton from the Bethlehem canton, they have cooked up a groundless ethnic-urban theory designed to give a collective identity to some quarter of a million people as "the Arabs of East Jerusalem," loyal residents of the State of Israel. This group of people to whom the Israelis, out of the goodness of their hearts, have granted a blue ID card, "have to" behave as if they are different from their sisters and brothers who find themselves on the other side of the arbitrary "Jerusalem envelope."

The theory states moreover that the residents of East Jerusalem tend not to engage in terror activities since they "have something to lose" and are interested in maintaining the advantages of holding Israeli citizenship. This is an attitude typical of colonial powers who are convinced they can define ethnic identities, create them from scratch, place them inside borders and fences and erase them when they are no longer needed.

The Arabs of East Jerusalem - a fictitious identity created when arbitrary borders were drawn - are the "good Arabs" in the eyes of those planning the "Jerusalem envelope" and if they dare "to make trouble," they will soon be taught a lesson.

The fence itself will be dedicated at an impressive ceremony and the Jewish public will cheer on its far-sighted leaders. The danger involved in building the fence, the difficulties of crossing it, the expropriations, the loss of contact between families - all of these will serve merely to increase enmity and nurture the urge for revenge, but these do not bother the fence-builders. Anyway, as the fence-planners know, the aim of the fence is not security but psychology.

One can assume that the fence-planners would like to avoid the embarrassment caused them by the "Jerusalem envelope" but, what can one do, the psychological and political pressure increased after the last murderous terror attack. And so what if the absurdity and baselessness of the fence idea have been revealed? It's not important, because the public so badly desires a wall against fear that no one will bother to ask questions.