Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

The Iron Wall of Jenin

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

The Iron Wall of Jenin

Article excerpt

The Iron Wall of Jenin

Samah Jabr is a medical student who writes from her home in Jerusalem. Betsy Mayfield is an American writer living in Iowa.

Keeping some people in and others out is nothing new. The crumbling Great Wall of China, built in 215 BCE evokes invading hordes sweeping down the hilly terrain which created the need for this 1,400-mile structure. More recently, the Berlin wall was demolished in 1989, signaling the approaching age of globalization.

These are only two striking examples of humankind's wall-building, "keep 'em in, keep 'em out" mentality, which was and continues to be taught to schoolchildren from Beijing to Berlin and all places betwixt and between.

This mentality is evidenced in the violence being used in the Holy Land to imprison and isolate the people of Palestine because Israeli colonizers wish to take whatever land they want. This newest catastrophe confronting us morally harms not only Palestinian Christians, Muslims and Jews, but violates the rights of the many Israeli citizens who value justice. It is they who live "safely" in Tel Aviv, but in fear of retribution they know their own government imposes on them, because of Israel's stance against Palestinians.

Today, the Israeli government under Ariel Sharon is acting out a plan initiated early in the last century by Vladimir Jabotinsky, the Zionist revisionist planner, racist, colonialist, militarist, and father of the Zionist Revisionist legacy. The ideals proposed by Jabotinsky and perpetuated by Sharon are as old, as violent and as exclusionist as any manifestation of the wish to keep the "other" out, on the other side of a fence or wall, whether in a shanty town, reservation, or concentration camp.

Jabotinsky's article "The Iron Wall, We and the Arabs" first appeared Nov. 4, 1923 in the magazine Rasswyet. Among other things, Jabotinsky wrote:

Any native people - it's all the same whether they are civilized or savage - views their country as their national home, of which they will always be the complete masters. They will not voluntarily allow, not only a new master, but even a partner. And so it is for the Arabs. Compromisers in our midst attempt to convince us that the Arabs are some kind of fools who can be tricked by a softened formulation of our goals, or a tribe of money grubbers who will abandon their birthright to Palestine for cultural and economic gains.

I flatly reject this assessment of the Palestinian Arabs...They look upon Palestine with the same instinctive love and true fervor that any Aztec looked upon his Mexico or any Sioux looked upon his prairie...This childish fantasy of our `Arabo-philes' comes from some kind of contempt for the Arab people, of some kind of unfounded view of this race as a rabble ready to be bribed in order to sell out their homeland for a railroad network.

He continued,

Zionist colonization, even the most restricted, must either be terminated or carried out in defiance of the will of the native population. This colonization can...continue and develop only under the protection of a force independent of the local population - an iron wall which the native population cannot break through...All this does not mean that any kind of agreement is impossible, only a voluntary agreement is impossible. As long as there is a spark of hope that they can get rid of us, they will not sell these hopes...they are not a rabble, but a nation, perhaps somewhat tattered, but still living. A living people makes such enormous concessions on such fateful questions only when there is no hope left...the only path to agreement is the iron wall...a government without any kind of Arab influence. In other words, for us the only path to an agreement in the future is an absolute refusal of any attempts at an agreement now.

This by-now-familiar philosophy has been passed from Jabotinsky to Begin to Shamir right on down to Sharon. Those of us who live in Palestine have seen that, regardless of how receptive to us an Israeli government purports to be, the Jabotinsky strategy remains the internal party line. …

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