Indy reporter misleads on Israel’s security barrier

In a largely non-political and quite interesting nature story on July 3 by the Indy’s Michael McCarthy (the paper’s Environmental Editor) about the Jerusalem Bird Observatory, there were the following passages, where the author pivoted to briefly exploring the politics of the region:

For Jerusalem overwhelms you. In the Old City, sacred to all three Abrahamical religions, Jews, Christians and Muslims, history and tradition are overpowering, as are the assaults on the senses: the sunlight flashing on copper coffee pots, an Arab flute being played somewhere, the bewildering mix of languages, the smells of cumin and cardamom and coriander.

But the politics is the most overpowering phenomenon of all, and the anguish of two hostile peoples struggling for one land is never more than a glance away. It’s seen above all now in The Wall, the 25ft-high separation barrier the Israelis have built between their Jewish citizens and the Palestinians of the West Bank, and whether or not you agree with the argument for it – that the Arab suicide bombings of the Second Intifada became an intolerable burden on Israeli civil society – there is no doubt that it now appears, snaking over the hills, as something monstrous.

Of course, Israel’s security barrier (mostly consisting of chain link or barbed wire) was built between ‘Israeli citizens’ and the Palestinians of the West Bank, not just the state’s “Jewish citizens and the Palestinians” as McCarthy claims. In addition to the state’s roughly six million Jews, Israel is home to 1.3 million Muslims, 155,000 Christians and nearly 130,000 Druze.

Moreover, for most Israelis of all faiths, the existence of the security barrier simply reflects the belief that, given their experience with deadly acts of terror originating from across the previously porous green line, their government has not only the right, but the moral duty to protect them from future attacks.  (It should also be noted that shrapnel tends not to distinguish between Jew and non-Jew.)

It’s remarkable that such an intuitive understanding of the Israeli right to self-defense continues to elude so many UK reporters and commentators.

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