Of all the faulty political analogies used over the years by Guardian contributors to demonise Israel, an interview with acclaimed photographer Josef Koudelka, published on Dec. 24 (“Barriers, barbed wire and borders in the head: Josef Koudelka’s Holy Land”) evokes one that’s among the most historically illiterate we’ve come across.
The analogy is evoked early in the piece, when readers are told that the photographer grew up behind the Iron Curtain, in Czechoslovakia. And, it later adds:
Koudelka found himself deeply interested in the barrier built by Israel in the West Bank, which struck a chord because of his own experience of living behind the iron curtain.
Later, we’re told that Koudlka refused suggestions of who to meet to gain some knowledge about the region and the history of, and reasons for, the security fence, preferring instead to discover it “on his own terms”.
“When they offered me to meet a rabbi, some historians, and others, I told them, ‘Thank you, but no. I have this experience from Czechoslovakia. First of all I want to see by myself, and get to my knowledge through my eyes.”
The ignorance of such an analogy is almost incomprehensible.
Though the term “Iron Curtain”, symbolising the totalitarian Soviet Union’s efforts to block itself and its satellite states from contact with the democratic West, was popularized by Winston Churchill’s 1946 speech, it also refers to actual physical fences, such as the ones between Czechoslovakia and liberal Western European countries like West Germany and Austria.
Of course, these Cold War fences were largely designed to prevent citizens of Easter Bloc countries from escaping to freedom in the West, whilst Israel’s fence was designed to prevent Palestinian terrorists outside their borders from crossing into the country to murder civilians.
In short: Soviet Bloc countries’ fences kept their own citizens from leaving. Israel’s fence keeps hostile non-citizens from entering. Any suggestion that both of these measures are morally or politically analogous is simply absurd.
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