THE WAILING WALL OF CONTENTION Dr. M. Manzoor Alam (July 22, 2004)


Dr. Manzoor Alam

The Israeli government has thought of a novel way to compensate for Palestinian deprivation. For over two millennia, the Jews have been gathering at the last remaining wall of Solomon’s (PBUH) Temple to cling to it and wail over the destruction wrought by Romans. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (or war criminal Sharon, as his victims would describe him) has magnanimously decided that the Palestinians too must have their Wailing Wall, much before they are allowed to have a “state” of their own.

From Sharon’s point of view it looks quite reasonable to divide hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, brothers from brothers, relatives from relatives. Sharon’s government has a rather benign name for this monster: “security barrier”. After all, everybody is concerned about the Jewish state’s security, including the Germans who tried, not long ago, to settle the “Jewish problem” by killing six million of them.

And, what about Palestinian security, Gentlemen? Awe, well, let’s see. After all the Palestinians are getting a solid Wailing Wall of their own. They can’t complain too much. And beggars can’t be choosers. And, please do shut up if you don’t want your name to be associated with Hezbollah. Or worse, al-Qaeda. Anybody who wants that his or her bank account is not ceased has to learn the fine art of silence.

But the wretched of the earth are a raucous lot. People being slaughtered will grunt, shriek and groan even  if the sound is unpleasant to the  executioners. The world community, in whose name Israels’s patron the US, commits all the excesses, does not like the wall cutting through the heart of occupied Palestine.

It is the same United States that has been ignoring the world community when it comes to Israel’s illegal activities. When the UN General Assembly asked the International Court of Justice for an opinion on the legal status of the wall, the US tried its best to derail the move. Despite that the General Assembly passed it by a 144 to 4 vote in October 2003. However, the US was not moved by such overwhelming world opinion against the 425-mile long wall in the West Bank. Combined with the wall being built around the Arab population in Jerusalem, the Israeli wall becomes over 700-miles long.

The path of the wall sandwiches thousands of Palestinians between the Green Line (the pre-1967 border) and the wall, fencing many of them off from Jerusalem. The court ruled 14 to 1 (the lone dissenting judge being an American) that, “the construction of the Wall being built by Israel, the occupying power, in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and its regime, are contrary to international law”.

The court held that “Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law; it is under an obligation to cease forthwith the works of the construction of the wall being built in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle  forthwith the structure therein situated, and to  repeal and  render ineffective forthwith all legislative and regulatory acts relating thereat”.

The ICJ also asked Israel to pay Palestinians reparations for the damages caused by the wall. Thousands of acres of Palestinian land has been swallowed by the wall.

As expected, the US and Israel quickly rejected it, saying the ICJ had no jurisdiction. Britain, as usual, followed in their footsteps. The ICJ had clarified that it had jurisdiction under UN Charter, under which the UN General Assembly had authorised it to give an opinion.

That Israel, the US and Britain hold the world community in contempt was evident from Israeli officials’ remarks while the court ruling was being delivered. The ruling would be dumped into the “trash can of history”, the Israeli officials declared.

US ambassador to the UN John Danforth, who has been lobbying overtime to derail the move against the wall, said the ICJ opinion was “one-sided”. Sure in the knowledge that the entire world cannot do a thing against American wishes, Danforth gloated that 22 such resolutions condemning Israel last year “didn’t do any good”.  He openly supported the wall saying it had deterred terrorist attacks. The ICJ does not subscribe to this line.

As of now, the case seems to be headed for the UN Security Council, where the US is sure to kill it using its much-abused veto. So, by now we know how serious the US is about the “world community’s” opinion.g

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