The troubles of the Holy Land have taken a toll on both sides. While one man’s terrorist may be another man’s freedom fighter, the fact is that in recent decades, both sides have suffered terribly: Palestinians have killed Israeli Jews, and Israelis have killed Palestinians.
Since 2003, Israel has been building a wall around the West Bank in the name of security from terrorism. While Israel calls this the “Security Fence,” most Palestinians think of as a degrading and illegal land grab. Israelis would say that it’s been effective — noting that in the three years before it was built, suicide bombers killed 293 of their citizens; in the three years after it went up, that number dropped to 64. Since its construction, terrorist attacks have dwindled. Palestinians would counter by saying that this decline is not because of the wall, but because Palestine, its president, its security forces, and its people have all realized that violence is a losing strategy. Palestinians assure me that if anyone really wants to get through the wall (which is far from finished), it’s very easy to do.
It’s hard to argue against the land grab case. If the fence or wall was simply for security, as claimed, it would have been built along the internationally recognized border that was defined by the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993. But it’s generally well to the Palestine side of that border. In fact, it’s nearly twice as long as the border it claims to defend — gerrymandered in order to protect settlements, aquifers, good farmland, and holy places within the West Bank for Israel.
I’ll continue this Holy Land series until November 21st. Then, to celebrate my homecoming, I’ll give a live, free slideshow lecture on Thursday, November 21st at 7 p.m. P.S.T. in Edmonds, Washington. You can attend in person (registration required)…or watch the live webcast from anywhere in the world (no registration required). Learn more at Rick Steves – Holy Land: Israel and Palestine Today.