Harriet Sherwood, Palestinian terrorism and the lessons the Guardian Left will never learn

The B’Tselem video used by Harriet Sherwood to illustrate her latest story, ‘How the West Bank barrier has starved business and community‘, Nov. 5, about the economic downtown in Bir Nabala, a Palestinian town roughly 8 km from Jerusalem, includes text with a telling time gap.

Clips show scenes of an evidently vibrant community in the 1990s, followed by this text:

A few seconds later, we see this:

Not once during the rest of the video, purporting to illustrate the economic downturn during this period, does the video (or Sherwood’s report) mention what extremely relevant event occurred between the 1990s and 2006.

What I’m referring to, naturally, is the Palestinian ‘Al-Aksa’ Intifada from 2000 to 2005, which necessitated the construction of Israel’s security fence.

In fact, in Sherwood’s 615 word report here is the only passage even suggesting why precisely Israelis saw the need to erect such a security barrier.

“Israel says the route of the barrier is determined by security needs, and that its construction is the reason for the decline in attacks by Palestinian militants inside Israel.”

More typical of her report, however, are passages such as these:

“Inside the derelict wedding hall, bird droppings have stained the golden cloths that are still draped over dozens of tables. Outside, the road which used to carry heavy traffic from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is now known as the street of ghosts. At its abrupt end, rubbish blows up against the 8-metre-high concrete wall that has killed the village of Bir Nabala.

The vast West Bank separation barrier, which Israel began constructing 10 years ago, reached Bir Nabala in 2006, a year after Sabah opened a second wedding hall, upstairs in the same building. Business was good: the two halls hosted an average of seven weddings a week over that year, with most bookings coming from families in nearby East Jerusalem.

And it wasn’t just Sabah. Almost all the businesses in the thriving village between Jerusalem and Ramallah closed. Palestinians from East Jerusalem who had bought or rented houses and apartments fled back to the city rather than endure a long roundabout journey, via the massive Qalandiya checkpoint, to jobs which previously had been 10 minutes drive away. Abandoned, shuttered and looted apartment blocks and businesses are now the defining feature of Bir Nabala.

According to a new report, The Long Term Impact of the Separation Barrier, by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, the isolation of Bir Nabala “has caused a mass exodus from the village, abandonment of residential neighbourhoods and economic stasis”.

In general, says the report, the barrier has led to “numerous infringements of the human rights of Palestinians, over and above the direct damage done by its construction – including property rights, the right to free movement, the right to a reasonable standard of living and collective right to self-determination.”

While Harriet Sherwood, and B’Tselem, continually wax eloquently on the “rights” of Palestinians to “self-determination”, “free-movement” and “a reasonable standard of living”, absent from such platitudes are similarly sympathetic pronouncements on behalf of the rights of Israelis whose lives have been irrevocably affected by Palestinian violence.

It’s telling that Sherwood doesn’t even refer to the fence as a “security barrier” but, rather, as a “separation barrier”, no doubt in service of a broader narrative of Israeli segregation and ‘apartheid’.

It’s simply not debatable that the decision to build the fence, in order to prevent Palestinian terrorists from infiltrating into Israeli population centers, was inspired by a terror war which claimed over 1000 lives (and severely injured thousands more) from 2000 to 2005.

Further, as Mitchel Bard wrote on the efficacy of the security fence:

“Even the Palestinian terrorists have admitted the fence is a deterrent. On November 11, 2006, Islamic Jihad leader Abdallah Ramadan Shalah said on Al-Manar TV the terrorist organizations had every intention of continuing suicide bombing attacks, but that their timing and the possibility of implementing them from the West Bank depended on other factors. “For example,” he said, “there is the separation fence, which is an obstacle to the resistance, and if it were not there the situation would be entirely different.”

The value of the fence in saving lives is evident from the data: In 2002, the year before construction started, 457 Israelis were murdered; in 2009, 8 Israelis were killed.”

However, even more important than the utility of the fence is the broader lesson about the Palestinian war against Israeli civilians which prompted its construction.

Israeli reaction to Arafat’s terror war reflected a simple moral stance: the Jewish state would not be blackmailed by violence or the threat of violence. And, while most Israelis were committed to the idea of Oslo’s two-state paradigm (as most are still, in principle, today), citizens of Israel will not ‘negotiate’ with a gun to their heads.

The injurious impact, to Palestinian communities, of building a wall is unfortunate. However, the responsibility for such problems lay squarely with those who plan, execute (or morally justify) the hideous practice of intentionally igniting explosives which send thousands of pieces of shrapnel piercing through the bodies of Israeli men, women and children – thus denying them of their fundamental right to live.

Israel’s security fence is merely a consequence of Palestinian violence and their dangerous culture of incitement – a mind-numbingly simple causation which continually eludes the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent and her far-left fellow travelers.

(Here’s a list of Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis between 1993 and 2012.)

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