I agree with the PLO: Tear down the fence!

This week, The PLO issued a statement reiterating its demand that Israel implement the 2004, recommendations of the International Court of Justice and tear down the Judea and Samaria (they of course say “West Bank”) security barrier.

The court’s opinion was issued despite the fact that statistics indicate that the barrier, constructed at the height of the Oslo War, no doubt protected Israeli population centers from the wave of suicide bombings which plagued the country at the time.

While the barrier does have its benefits, I agree with the PLO on this one.

I say: ‘tear down this fence!’

While I concur with the PLO that the fence should be dismantled, I diverge when it comes to their reasoning for doing so.

While the Arabs claim that the fence was built as a tool for Israel to implement a policy of “land grabbing” and “settlement” expansion,” the fence in fact deters Israel from legally building additional communities in Judea and Samaria to serve its housing needs.

While its official or unofficial government policy, how many times have we heard politicians make a differentiation between communities to the West of the fence and those to the East?

In other words, while the Arabs view all “settlements” as being illegal regardless of where they are located, WE OURSELVES have placed both a physical and a psychological chasm between the Jews living on one side of the barrier and the other.

How many times do we hear about the “consensus settlement blocs” vs. those “isolated” communities, which of course the two-staters say will have to be turned over to the PA in any future agreement.

What has truly become the difference between consensus and non? It’s that darn fence, which we only have ourselves to blame for.

A fence, whether “the fence” or those smaller ones surrounding residential communities in Judea and Samaira, while on the surface appear to be a terror deterrent, are simply but Band-Aids, which don’t solve the overall problem.

Without rooting out the terrorists themselves, whether in Judea and Samaria or in Gaza (which is also surrounded by a fence), there will always be ways around, over, or under them.

Do fences stop Kassam rockets and Grad missiles? Surely not.

Also in recent weeks Arab terrorists in the “consensus” Gush Etzion (and in many other areas as well) have lobbed rocks at passing motorists –  both over the gargantuan wall on Route 60 near the tunnel roads, as well as over the fence separating the village of Hussan from the road near the community of Beitar-Illit.

And let’s not forget about one of the most tragic episodes in Israel’s history, with the brutal murder of the five members of Itamar Fogel family, a community enclosed within a fence.

Plain and simple, a fence is not full proof, and quite possibly the opposite – an obstruction which provides a false sense of security.

The sad reality is, that despite the Arab claim that it’s the fences which are keeping them out, in reality it’s the ghetto-like fences which are keeping us, the residents of Judea and Samaria, tucked away at home, while the Arabs are free to roam.

Just take a ride down route 60 in the Gush and see Arab farmers free from worry guiding their donkeys on the sides of the roads back and forth from their homes to the fields. Or the women in full traditional Muslim garb, unafraid to pick olives in the orchards, as us Jews have worry that we may come under attack while outside of our fences, in-between communities whether going for a jog or bike ride.

While of course they have the necessary security measures in place, I always feel a sense of pride visiting communities such as Efrat or Kedumim, that have made the conscious and ideological decision NOT to surround themselves with metal and barb-wire.

So while I never thought I would see the day, it is in fact here – I do agree with the PLO on something.

The fence needs to go.










About the Author
Joshua Hasten is the International Spokesperson for Gush Etzion. He is host of the weekly “Israel Uncensored” radio broadcast on The Land of Israel Network, as well as an international Middle East Correspondent in print and on television. Joshua is also a sought-after speaker around the world. His workshops and lectures on pro-Israel advocacy have impacted thousands. Joshua was the CAMERA organization’s 2009 Letter Writer of the Year, and is a member of the Judea and Samaria Speaker’s Bureau. Originally from Indianapolis, Indiana, he resides in Gush Etzion, Israel.