Borders and Walls

Is it coincidental that both the United States and Israel have identical security issues that are portrayed in the media and political arena as oppression, racism, apartheid-ism and humanitarian violations?  Both countries have built and/or plan for expansion of border walls to prevent unlawful infiltration of persons who pose national security threats.

Just weeks ago, Israel was attacked by over 400 rockets, which were preceded by months of assaults on its border fence.  In some cases, the daily attacks were ingenious fabrications of explosive devices mounted on attractive kites that appeared in the news media as helpless and empathetic actions by down-trodden and persecuted men, women and children. While the kites did little in the way of taking the lives of Israelis, they decimated the bordering communities with explosions and fires burning thousands of acres of agricultural fields, forests, schools and other structures.  In each incident, people bent on killing Jews sought to break through the fences and, in some cases, were neutralized only after breaking in, armed and determined to wreak havoc, murder and mayhem. In response to the rocket attacks, the IDF responded, killing or arresting terrorists, and destroying missile batteries. This latest method of terrorism follows and adds to the continued construction of tunnels, for the sole purpose of devastating terror.

What has been the response of the world?  It has been the same as it always has been. The media dramatizes the wounded people of Gaza and the structures that have been bombed in retaliation. The murder of Jews — men, women and children targeted for death, and whose deaths are celebrated by the Palestinians, rewarded with lifetime stipends and streets named after them. Their children are sent to camps and schools where from the time they can walk and talk are trained to hate and kill Jews.  All the while, terrorists who have been wounded, and not killed, in the process of or in the aftermath of a murderous rampage, are treated in Israel hospitals, and this incredible chessed directed at Israel’s enemies is juxtaposed by the tragic funerals of their victims in all of Israeli communities whose families have been forever destroyed.  On the international scene, Israel is the perennial target of UN resolutions condemning and branding it as the premier human rights violator!

This is not a new phenomenon. Until the current administration which has moved its embassy to Jerusalem, nullified the Iran deal and cut off funding to terrorist states, the United States has often been either silent or has mouthed a message of moral equivalency, attempting to sit on the geo-political fence, thereby leaving Israel to the wolves that seek to annihilate it.

Suddenly, the headlines of unlawful, illegal masses of people, storming fences, throwing rocks and shouting hate, is appearing on the screens of the world media, not just focused on Israel, but now on the southern border of the United States. Caught in more than just a physical battle, the battleground is waged with words and images. Labels placed upon the border patrol, the supporting army units, the caravan of thousands of immigrants identify the biases on both sides. Seeing the spectacle evokes either anger or tears of compassion, or both. As with Israel, the Battleground of Words is far more effective and pivotal than the superior military might of the country seeking to exclude those who seek to enter in violation of existing laws. While the President of the United States may sadly engage in hyperbole and reckless language broad-brushing the caravan as filled with murderers, rapists, drug cartel emissaries, and welfare-seeking groups, the media alternatively refuses to consider the situation at the southern border as a crisis threatening the security and welfare of U.S. citizens. The media brands the President as a racist, a Nazi, a white supremacist, a tyrant — the list goes on and on.  Those labels stick and stir up his detractors, and his supporters rally around him, ignoring his words, but embracing his policies.

From a pure legal standpoint, a person seeking entry into the United States must do so lawfully, either by following the immigration procedures that have been in place for decades or by meeting the strict criteria of political asylum. The two polarized camps — those who favor “open borders” and those who seek an orderly immigration policy for all — are unfortunately not just ideologically at odds, but have utilized the issue for political purposes, hoping that it will garner the votes in 2020 (and beyond) to WIN!  The hidden agenda of too many who speak out is morally odious and should be seen for what it is; of course, there are those who truly believe in each side of the argument.

As for the conditions in Israel, the media does not focus on the human rights violations of other countries. History be damned — no one speaks of the fact that the so-called Palestinians were cast out of Jordan and refused settlements in other Moslem countries. No one focuses on the fact that Moslems sit in the Knesset, work and walk the streets and eat in restaurants, build and worship in mosques, dress in the manner of their religion — all within the borders of Israel. No one speaks of the absence of synagogues in either Gaza or the West Bank, the inability of a Jew to walk safely their streets, worship or even display their religion by their garb. Why?

In the United States, the fact that illegal aliens gain entry, either by smuggling in or claiming asylum and then failing to show up for court to plead their cases, does not offend the conscience or propriety of an increasingly-large segment of its citizenry. Sanctuary cities and states, refusal to cooperate with the federal government in identifying and evicting those who are here unlawfully or worse, having committed crimes or returned multiple times after deportation.

But why now?  Why is this occurring on the world stage, and particularly in the United States and Israel?  Borders are essential to the integrity of a nation. This has been understood from time immemorial. The idea of opening those borders to those who seek the security, safety and opportunity of the host country is a noble one, and has been the beacon that has shone from Lady Liberty since the founding of the United States. Those borders were mercilessly closed to Jews who were seeking to escape the death camps of Hitler’s Europe or the pogroms of Russia. When it suited an anti-Semitic agenda, even clear grounds of life-saving asylum were rejected by country-after-country, arguing that quotas and other criteria were in the national interest of the host country.  Millions of immigrants have come to the shores of the United States, integrated into the multi-cultural fabric of society, and provided the richness and diversity that personifies the nation.

Established by the world community as a “homeland” for the Jewish People, the sliver of land that is Israel was the final hoped-for refuge and dwelling of Jews, primarily if not indispensably occurring as a response to the Holocaust.  Although dwarfed by the millions of acres of land and the billions of people that inhabit the Middle East, the State of Israel was immediately attacked time and again, since its founding in 1948. The explicit mission of terrorist regimes is not just to retake the land, but to annihilate the remaining millions of Jews that exist in the post-Holocaust world. Yet, in order to make “peace”, Israelis have been evicted from their homes by their own government, millions paid to its enemies to sustain them, give them jobs and provide a place of dwelling denied them by their Moslem brothers.

Despite the humanitarian and democratic policies that have occurred in both countries, they are now faced with political and ideological warfare, which ignores the undisputed facts that their borders are being breached and invaded by those who do not wish to identify or integrate with their hosts. They seek legitimacy by illegitimate means, and their violations of the law go unmentioned.  The bias on the world stage is at its heart anti-American and anti-Semitic (beyond anti-Israel).  Ironically, Israel and the United States remain pillars of Democracy.  Their detractors fuel their agendas with ancient hatred and misinformation. The forces of the far Left and the far Right — communism, socialism, fascism, totalitarianism, white supremacy — have chosen this time to magnify the Borders and Fences to archetypal dimensions.  The malevolence at the heart of the controversy must be identified, combatted and defeated, and not any later than now!


About the Author
Naphtali Perlberger is a Senior Lecturer for AISH HaTorah and gives Parsha HaShavua shiurim at Young Israel of the Main Line. He is one of the founders and a past president of the Philadelphia Community Kollel. He is Founder & President of Philadelphia Chapter of Children of the Holocaust, and past FJA Chairman of Men's Organizations; talk show host for a radio show, "G-d is Listening" and former radio news broadcaster. Currently President of Kosloff Torah Academy High School for Girls.