The Jerusalem Post, Feb. 24, 2004


(The World's Advice To Jews)

By Michael Freund

South Korea has one. So does Kuwait, Lithuania, Namibia, South Africa and India, not to mention Spain, Slovakia, and even the US.

What these disparate nations all have in common is that each one has built, or is in the process of building, a security fence along one of its borders, either to keep out smugglers, thwart infiltrators or simply control the flow of people and goods across its boundaries.

But unlike Israel they also share another conspicuous trait: none of their barriers has been threatened with condemnation by the International Court of Justice; nor have they received round-the-clock coverage on CNN.
Each of these countries erected a fence for the simple reason that that is what states tend to do when they feel their interests are being threatened.

Kuwait's was put up for fairly obvious reasons, thanks to a once-hostile Iraq, while South Korea's barrier is intended to stave off a possible invasion from its communist neighbor to the north.

Lithuania saw fit to draw a line in metal along its border with Belarus, just as Namibia did to neighboring Angola, India has done with Pakistan, and the US to Mexico. Slovakia and the Ukraine are similarly demarcated, while Saudi Arabia recently considered building a fence along its border with Yemen.

And the list does not end there.

Five years ago, Spain spent more than $35 million erecting a 10-foot-tall fence around its North African enclave of Melilla, cutting it off from the rest of Morocco. It consists of two rows of barricades, hi-tech security cameras, fiber optic sensors and a road to accommodate police patrols. The Spanish government went to all this trouble to stem the tide of Moroccans seeking to cross the border illegally.

Hey, now doesn't that sound familiar?

Even South Africa, which so brazenly criticized Israel at Monday's opening hearing at The Hague, has invested tens of millions of rand in recent years to reinforce its own border fence along the Limpopo River, which delineates the boundary with Zimbabwe.

The reason? To keep out cattle that might be carrying foot-and-mouth disease.

To which I cannot help but ask: Why is it ok for South Africa to keep out the cows, but not for Israel to bar entry to suicide attackers?

For goodness' sake, there is even a border fence stretching for some 10 miles between England and Scotland, and they haven't fought a war against each other for centuries.

NOR CAN it be argued that the problem with Israel's fence is that it is not on a recognized border. Pakistan is protesting an elaborate fence erected by India in disputed Kashmir. Yet the world does not cry that India is stealing "occupied Pakistani territory."

"The fence will be a permanent barrier to prevent militants from entering," the head of India's Border Security Force in Kashmir told the Washington Post last summer. "Why should we wait for them to come in and attack our people?"

With so many fences going up in so many places around the world, why then is it Israel, and only Israel, which finds itself in the dock over this issue? The answer, it seems, is quite simple: The world is essentially telling the Jewish state to roll over and die.

They criticize us when we actively defend ourselves through military means, and now they aim to condemn us for adopting passive measures such as putting up a lousy fence.

Take, for example, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Shortly after the Palestinians launched the present terror campaign in September 2000, Annan ascended the podium at the UN Security Council and called on Israel "to use non-lethal methods" when quelling outbreaks of Palestinian unrest.

And yet, when Israel proceeded to do just that by initiating construction of the security fence, Annan decided to lead the charge against it. In a report submitted to the UN General Assembly on November 24, 2003, he berated Israel for erecting the barrier, calling it "a deeply unproductive act."

So if Israel's use of military means against Palestinian terror is unacceptable to Annan, and he considers nonmilitary means such as the fence to be "unproductive" -- how exactly does the secretary-general expect the Jewish state to protect its citizens?

Now don't get me wrong; I think the construction of the security fence is a pitiful substitute for an effective counterterrorism policy on Israel's part. Indeed, rather than encircling the perpetrators of terror, the government is fencing in their intended victims.

But that in no way gives the nations of the world the right to stand in judgment on the Jewish state. Were they to find themselves in a similar situation they would no doubt act to ensure the safety and security of their citizens.In truth, it is not that the fence incorporates parts of Judea and Samaria that troubles our accusers, nor do they really care about the inconvenience it might cause to some Palestinians.

What truly seems to disturb them is that it just might save some Jewish lives. And that, as far as they are concerned, is perhaps the most unforgivable crime of all.

The writer served as deputy director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Prime Minister's Office under former premier Binyamin Netanyahu.