The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Barrier to peace

Susan Kippels | Monday, November 15, 2004

The wall separating the Palestinian territories from Israel has been under construction since 2002. Israel is building a “security fence” in hopes that it will bar terrorists from Israel and heighten overall security. The wall will be 25 feet tall and 400-miles long when complete. It will include guard towers, patrol roads and a no-man’s land. It is difficult to think of any historical instance where the construction of a barrier large enough to be referred to as a wall promoted peaceful coexistence; the painful legacy of the Berlin Wall is still in recent memory.

Like the Berlin Wall, Israel’s security fence owes its origins to the great political dispute of its day. Despite some similarities, however, Israel’s barrier is much worse – after Berlin, people should know better. The new wall in Israel is over four times as long as the Berlin Wall and more than double the average height.

Living as an American in Jerusalem for five years, I witnessed and heard in detail about many human rights violations inside the region. Despite being used to such things, nothing could have prepared me for my first view of the gray, looming wall in the village of Qalqiliya. Constructing a massive physical division between two peoples is a ridiculous way to try and promote a future peace. Instead of creating stability, this wall will ensure the Palestinian and Israeli conflict persists for much longer.

The barrier cuts into the Palestinian West Bank and is chiefly a scheme to seize disputed land and complicate any possible plans to create a Palestinian state. Once the wall is complete, 10 percent or more of the West Bank will be confiscated by and for Israel. The wall will not only rob Palestinians of land. It will also separate communities and disconnect people from their hospitals, schools and workplaces.

In July, The International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that Israel’s West Bank barrier is illegal and stated that its construction should cease. This is a ruling that Israel has no intention of following. The only thing the General Assembly could theoretically do is enforce economic sanctions on Israel, and this will not happen. If peace is to prevail in the region, Israel must dismantle the wall, return confiscated land to its rightful owners, and compensate Palestinians for damage caused.

Worldwide, people closely follow the situation in Palestine and Israel and sympathize with those who live there. The abortion display on the South Quad of miniature wooden crosses attracts a huge amount of attention from the Notre Dame population. Why, then, does a 25-foot tall concrete wall, harming millions of adults and children, draw comparatively little campus concern?