Mr. Sharon: Build this fence
AS the Cold War waned, President Ronald Reagan went to Berlin and defiantly turned to the Soviet Union and said “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Now, we should turn toward Israel and say, despite the recent decision of the International Court, “Mr. Sharon, build this wall!”
The contrast with Berlin is striking: Nikita Khrushchev built the Berlin Wall to keep people in; Israel has built its fence to keep terrorists out.
The 480-mile security fence is being erected by Israel to keep out Palestinian terrorists who have killed almost 1,000 civilians since their campaign of suicide/homicide bombings began. To put the Israeli losses in perspective with their small population, that death toll is the equivalent of 50,000 dead in the United States – slightly fewer than we lost in the entire Vietnam War.
The fence has succeeded brilliantly. No Israeli has been killed in a terrorist attack in an area where the fence has been completed in all of 2004 and terrorist attacks are down substantially from the rate of previous years.
Now the International Court of Justice, dismissing Israeli security concerns, has ruled that Israel violated international law in routing the fence over Palestinian property.
The fact is that a multilateral peace in the Middle East is clearly impossible. At the end of his tenure, President Bill Clinton negotiated a treaty with very generous terms only to watch it be rejected by Yasser Arafat and the PLO delegation. It is fanciful to believe that the cessation of a few miles of territory to an independent Palestinian state is going to prevent suicide bombings and other acts of terror by deranged fanatics.
Nor is it realistic to expect to deter suicide bombers by threatening to kill them. Unilateral Israel military action, occupying Palestinian territory and rooting around for terrorists, just antagonizes the world and does little to protect Israel or deter attacks.
A fence, which I have urged for years, is the best – and only – way to protect Israel. It is a unilateral way to make peace.
The ICJ ruling, which is nonbinding, came after the Israeli High Court ruled that the government must reroute part of the fence around Jerusalem to reduce the hardship to the Palestinian population.
But if the route and location of the fence causes economic dislocation to the Palestinian community and makes a contiguous political state harder to achieve, that is just too damn bad. For decades, Israel has been willing to negotiate acceptable terms with the Palestinian authorities – only to see each agreement destroyed by their inability to control their terrorist-inclined extremists.
Israel had to stanch the bleeding caused by the massive terror attacks of 2002 and 2003 – raids that amounted to the Holocaust on the installment plan. It was by only taking matters into its own hands and making terror raids physically impossible that Israel have been able to protect its own citizens and make military raids into the West Bank less necessary.
This wall, combined with a program of targeted strikes against terrorist leaders, has proven highly effective and must not be reversed.
The Israeli action also holds important lessons for the United States. In effect, Israel is saying that neither negotiation nor military raids can destroy the Palestinian terror organization. But technology, by putting Israeli civilians out of reach, can do so.
In our deployments in Iraq, we should heed the Israeli example and take care to insulate our forces from as much hostile action as possible, realizing that those the terrorists cannot reach, they cannot kill.
Dick Morris was an adviser to Bill Clinton for 20 years. Look for his new book, Rewriting History.
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