Tear down the Wall!


The International Court of Justice at The Hague branded Israel's concrete and steel barrier through the West Bank a de facto land grab (it is also, unmentioned, a water rights grab). It was, they correctly argued, a political not a security measure. Israel was told to tear it down and compensate the victims, arguing that signatories to the Geneva convention (which include the UK and the USA) were obliged to ensure Israel upholds the ruling.

That the wall has little to do with "self-defence" and, in fact, designed to impede Palestinian self-determination, annex land (almost 17% of the West Bank) and entrench illegally built Jewish settlements in the West Bank can be seen from its route. If the 8m high wall (with barbed wire, trenches and electronic motion detectors) was simply to stop suicide bombings then it would have been built on Israeli territory along the 1967 border. The World Court agreed. The only really surprising thing is that it ICJ took five months to acknowledge this.

The ICJ also called on the UN to consider measures against Israel, who rejected the decision as politicised and one-sided, saying that it failed to address "the very reason for building the fence - Palestinian terror." Israeli state terrorism is, of course, not an issue. The decision is non-binding but the Palestinian leadership said it would use the ruling to seek UN action against Israel. Sanctions appear unlikely in the face of the US veto. Equally unlikely will be the sight of Blair railing against "unreasonable" vetoes and urging a "coalition of the willing" to enforce the will of the UN and the "international community."

While the Palestinians hailed the ruling as a landmark judgment that could mobilise international opinion, the sad fact is that with US backing public opinion counts for little. Israel's reaction was predictable, complaining that international bodies were biased against it (apartheid-era South Africa thought likewise). And who is an unbiased body? Why, the US (provider of some $3bn of military aid a year to Israel). What a coincidence.

Israel wants to prevent the Palestinians from exploiting UN and other international bodies. It does not consider Palestinian resistance in any form as legitimate. For not only should they not resort to armed resistance or terrorism, they should also refuse to seek justice through international arbitration (unless brokered by an appropriately "neutral" body like the USA). This is a strategy designed to increase terrorism, as the Palestinians cannot be expected to just tolerate Israel annexation and repression. By rejecting the ICJ decision, Israel is, yet again, closing the door on peaceful struggle based on international law. The only option left would be violent acts of desperation Israel claims to be acting to stop. Which will, in turn, be used to justify further acts of expansion and state terrorism.

As anti-imperialists, anarchists must call for the dismantling of the wall and the right of self-determination for the Palestinians. Yet Palestine, like any nation, is class ridden and hierarchical. A Palestinian state would, inevitably, defend the interests of the Palestinian ruling class against the oppressed majority. As such, any "two state" solution, while feasible, would not be sufficient to guarantee genuine self-determination for the people of Palestine or Israel. Only a "no state" solution can ensure that.

Sadly, such a possibility is not on the cards just now, nor any time soon. It will only be so if the Palestine struggle for national liberation is turned into a struggle for human liberation. That is the task of any libertarians in the struggle. For those outside it, all we can do is support the rights of oppressed people to live as they see fit. In addition, we must support any attempts at solidarity across national divides. There has been direct action against the wall and its building, including demonstrations which involved local Palestinians and Israeli radicals. Some of these have been called by "Anarchists Against The Wall." Such joint actions show the way forward. If they could be generalised into joint Israeli and Palestinian mass direct action and solidarity, the prospects for freedom in the Middle East would increase.


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