Division in Israel required for peace


There is a wall in Israel, and I thank God every day for its existence. To be quite honest, much of this “wall” we hear so much about is actually a chain-link fence with motion sensors, but that’s just semantics. Whatever you want to call it, it is there — and yes, it prevents people from freely entering Israel. These are the facts. I’m sure by now you’ve written me off as some kind of monster, but if you bear with me I will explain.

On Sept. 28, 2000, the second Intifada began. This was a period rife with tension between Israelis and Palestinians, just after former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s attempt to forge peace between the two sides fell apart at Camp David. Militant Palestinians, offended by former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount, began a string of violent attacks against Israeli policemen. Molotov cocktails were thrown, bombs were left at bus stops, and suicide bombers attacked restaurants and buses.

It was a dark time in Israeli and Palestinian history, with many casualties on both sides. I personally remember the fear in peoples’ eyes at the thought of going outside of their homes. When I was 12 years old, my family went to a restaurant in downtown Jerusalem. We hoped to pick a good restaurant not because of the food, but because of the chance that we’d get blown up by a Palestinian suicide bomber if we picked the wrong one. A restaurant nearby was attacked several days later, and many innocent people were killed. That could have been my mother, my father and me.

This story is not unique in any way. There were 73 attacks from September 2000 to July 2003, killing 293 innocent people. No one in the country could avoid the danger because suicide bombers attacked everywhere. Bus stops, restaurants, open markets, health clinics, malls — everyone in the country risked their lives by merely going outside. Construction of the security fence began in 2002 in an effort to stem the flow of Palestinian suicide bombers into Israel proper. From August 2003 to the end of 2006, there were only 12 bombings. Since then, the numbers have dwindled to even fewer.

I visited a checkpoint in the security fence in 2007 near East Jerusalem. One of the commanders manning the fence at the time told me that although the number of terrorist attacks in Israel had decreased, the number of attempts had stayed the same. The security fence is doing its job — it prevents suicide bombers from entering Israel and saves countless innocent lives.

Do not get me wrong — the need for the security fence is painfully tragic. I don’t deny the discomfort it causes many innocent Palestinians as they wait in lines to go through checkpoints, and I wish with all of my heart that there was peace in the region so that security measures like the fence were unnecessary. But the current need for the fence is undeniable. It is not discriminatory nor is it a symbol of a nonexistent Israeli apartheid. It is an unfortunate reality born of necessity. Instead of petitioning Israel to remove the fence immediately and once again allow suicide bombers to inundate its cities, we should focus on engendering peace in the region through dialogue and a striving toward mutual understanding. Only then can the security fence come down.

Jordana Gilbert is a School of Engineering junior majoring in biomedical engineering.

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