Uri Avnery: The Evil Wall
May 3, 2004
The Evil Wall
For a fraction of a second, I was panic-stricken.
The terrible monster coming towards me was not more than five meters
away and continued to move as if I weren't there. The giant bulldozer
pushed a great heap of dirt and boulders before it. The driver, two
meters above me, seemed a part of the machine. It was clear that
nothing would stop him. I jumped aside at the last moment.
Some weeks ago, in a similar situation, the American peace activist
Rachel Corrie expected the driver to stop. He did not, and she was
crushed to death.
I did not come on this occasion to demonstrate (we shall do this
today) but to look around. In the olive grove, a few meters from the
tents that were set up by the villagers of Mas'ha, together with
Israeli and international peace activists, three monsters were
preparing the ground for the "Separation Wall". They raised clouds of
dust and a deafening roar, so that we could hardly converse. They
work every day, even on Passover, 12 hours a day, without a break.
The whole Israeli public supports the Separation Wall. It has no idea
what it is supporting. One has to come to the place in order to
understand all the implications of the project.
First of all, it has to be said unequivocally: this wall has nothing
to do with security.
It is being sold to the Israeli public as a "security fence". The
army calls it an "obstacle". The public, which of course yearns for
security, is buying the goods eagerly. At long last something is
And indeed, the idea looks quite simple. Even the most
unsophisticated person can grasp it. It seems almost self-evident: a
Palestinian who wants to blow himself up in Israel has first of all
to cross the pre-1967 border, the so-called Green Line. If a wall or
fence is built along the Green Line, the terrorists will not be able
to come. No more attacks, no more suicide bombers.
But logic says that if this had indeed been a security-wall, it would
have been built directly along the Green Line. All Israelis (except
the settlers) would be on one side of it (the western one) and all
the Palestinians on the other. The line should be as straight and as
short as possible, because it will need inspecting, patrolling and
defending. The shorter it is, the easier and cheaper it will be to
defend it. That is the logic of security.
But in reality, except for short sections, the wall is not being
built on the Green Line, nor in a straight line. On the contrary, it
meanders like a river, twisting and turning, approaching the Green
Line and receding from it.
Not by accident. The bed of a river is dictated by nature. The water
has to obey gravity. But the design of the wall has no connection
with nature. The bulldozers are quite indifferent to nature, they cut
through it remorselessly. What then determines this design?
Standing near it, the answer is clearly visible. The sole
consideration that dictates its path is the settlements. The wall
twists like a snake according to a simple principle: most of the
settlements must remain on the western side of the wall, i.e.
eventually to be absorbed into Israel.
Standing on a hill which will be crossed by the wall, I saw down
below, on the western side, Elkana, a large settlement. On the
eastern side, only a few dozen meters away, there is the Palestinian
village of Mas'ha. The village itself stands on the eastern side, but
almost all its lands lie on the western side. The wall will cut the
village off from 98% of its lands - olive groves and fields that
stretch up to the Green Line, some seven kilometers away, near Kafr
Mas'ha is a big village - like its neighbor, Bidia, where thousands
of Israelis used to come every Saturday for shopping. Mas'ha, too,
was once a blooming village. It has a big industrial zone, now
One can reach the village only on foot, climbing steep tracks. At the
beginning of the intifada, the Israeli army blocked the main road
with two piles of earth and rocks. No vehicle can pass.
"First they came to destroy our livelihood," the village chief, Anwar
Amar, says bitterly. "Now they come again to take away our land."
Indeed, the foul smell of "transfer" hovers over the wall. Its
location leaves whole Palestinian villages on the western side -
trapped between the wall and the Green Line. The inhabitants will not
be able to move, to find a livelihood, to breathe. Other villages,
like Mas'ha, will remain on the eastern side of the wall, but their
land, on which their livelihood depends, will be on the western side.
There are places, like the town of Kalkiliya, which will be almost
completely surrounded by a loop of the wall, leaving only a small
opening to the West Bank. One of the purposes of the wall is, without
a doubt, to make the lives of the inhabitants hell, in order to
convince them by and by to go away. It is a kind of "creeping
Like the terrifying bulldozer pushing before it rocks and lumps of
earth, so the occupation pushes before it the Palestinian population -
always eastwards, always out.
Historians can see this as a continuous process that started 120
years ago and has not stopped for a moment. It began with the
eviction of the Felaheen from land that was purchased from absentee
landowners and continued with the Nakba of 1948; the massive land
expropriations from Arabs in Israel after that war; the expulsions
during the 1967 war; the creeping eviction by means of settlements
and bypass roads throughout the years of the occupation; and now the
expulsion caused by the wall. The Hebrew bulldozer rolls in front.
Not by chance, Arial Sharon's nickname is "the bulldozer".
The wall of Mas'ha and Kalkiliya, which continues to the Gilboa
mountains, is not the only one. To the east of it, a second wall is
already being planned. It will embrace the Ariel and Kadumim
settlements and penetrate 20 km into Palestinian territory, almost
reaching the central axis of the West Bank, the Ramallah-Nablus road.
However, even this is not the whole picture. Sharon is now planning
the "Eastern Wall" that will cut off the West Bank from the Jordan
valley. When it is finished, the whole West Bank will become an
island surrounded by Israeli territory, cut off on all sides. Also,
the southern West Bank (Hebron and Betlehem) will be cut off from the
northern West Bank (Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin), which will also be
divided into several enclaves. 
This map is very reminiscent of the map of Apartheid South Africa.
The racist government set up several black "homelands", nicknamed
Bantustans, ostensibly self-governing territories whose black leaders
were appointed by the white government. Each Bantustan was completely
surrounded by the territory of the racist state, cut off from the
rest of the world.
This is exactly what Sharon has in mind when he speaks about
a "Palestinian state". It will consist of several enclaves, each one
surrounded by Israeli territory, without an external border with
Jordan or Egypt. Sharon has been working on this plan for decades,
setting up dozens of settlements according to its map.
The wall will serve this purpose. It has nothing to do with security,
it certainly will not bring peace. It will only bring more hatred and
bloodshed. The very idea that an obstacle of cement or wire could
stop the hatred is ludicrous.
The work continues now from early morning to late evening. Sharon
talks about the Road Map while creating "facts on the ground".
But this wall also has a deeper meaning. It is no accident that it is
so hugely popular in Israel, from Sharon to Mitzna and Beilin. It
satisfies an inner need.
In his book "Der Judenstaat", the founding document of Zionism,
Theodor Herzl wrote the following sentences: "For Europe, we shall be
there (in Palestine) a section of the wall against Asia. We shall do
pioneer service for culture against barbarism."
This idea, that we are the outpost of Europe and need a high wall
between us and Asiatic barbarism - i.e. the Arabs - is thus imbedded
in the original vision. Perhaps it has even deeper roots. When the
Jews began to congregate in Ghettos, before this was decreed from the
outside, they surrounded themselves with a wall, in order to separate
themselves from a hostile environment. Wall and separation, as
guarantees of security, are deeply imprinted in the Jewish collective
But we, the new Hebrew society in this country, did not want to be a
new Jewish ghetto. We did not seek separation, but the opposite - to
be open to the region. Not "a villa in the jungle", as Ehud Barak put
it, not a European outpost against Asiatic barbarism, as seen by
Herzl, but an open society that lives in peace and prospers in
partnership with the nations of this region.
This evil wall is not only an instrument for dispossessing the
Palestinians, not only an instrument of terrorism masquerading as a
defense against terrorism, not only an instrument of the settlers
disguised as a security measure. It is, most of all, an obstacle
facing Israel, a wall blocking our way to a future of peace, security
 A map of the walls can be seen on http://www.gush-
See another article about the wall: "It's not our nature"
By Gideon Levy
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