Monday, March 21, 2005

Fence Sitting

A regular dilemma for unilateral separation supporters like myself is the possibility that Israel's construction of the fence is generating more terrorism than it needs to. The necessity of a barrier similar in scope to Israel's current one has, I think, been empirically demonstrated by the collapse of the second intifada since its high point prior to construction of the fence; and also by the complete failure of militants to cross into Israel proper from the Gaza strip (walled in since before 2000). The problem with the fence is one of implementation - in particular, the way in which Sharon's government has drawn it so as to annex nontrivial amounts of West Bank land. Critics of Israel tend to argue that by violating international law and acting in unabashed self-interest Israel is going to generate enough hatred to perpetuate Palestinian militancy. Supporters of Israel tend to argue that it is not building the fence on Palestinian soil which would encourage future terrorism, by demonstrating that recourse to violence (i.e. the second intifada) is a consequence-free way of extracting concessions from Israel. And - I'll say it - I have no idea how to judge which of these factors will lead to a greater amount of anti-Israeli terrorism in the future. Regardless, I think the statistical evidence - and the election of the liberal, largely anti-militancy Mahmoud Abbas - make it clear that a fence, even one which annexes Palestinian land, is preferable to nothing.

Edit: it seems that the TNR story I linked to above is subscriber only. It's reprinted in full here.


At 4:58 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Nick, while I hardly consider myself well educated enough on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to post about it myself, I do agree that the fence has proved an invaluable tool in the fight against terrorism in Israel.

Nice catch on pointing to the reprint of the subscriber article. Now, while all of us here at Renaissance Men have subscriptions to publications such as The New Republic and thus link to subscriber-only articles, I would like to reiterate a suggestion I once made in an earlier post for our University readers: Pretty much every major University's library system affords access to multiple news-database engines such as Lexis-Nexis or EBSCO, and a quick search can often yield full text HTML or PDF versions of articles. I'm certainly not advocating that people who would otherwise subscribe circumvent paying in such a fashion; in fact, doing so would be tremendously difficult and a bit of a time waster given you have to search for each individual article.

But, a lot of our readers are University students, and it's a resource I'd just like to point out in case any of them are interested for future links.


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