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Preview: Comments on: The Baghdad Wall

Comments on: The Baghdad Wall

Christopher Lydon in conversation on arts, ideas and politics

Last Build Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2018 15:46:00 +0000


By: a wall round my heart buildin a wall inside

Wed, 09 Jul 2008 15:29:06 +0000

[...] ace process. ... No good comes from building a wall, no decent lasting, humane emotion. ... photo journal of peas and happ [...]

By: herbert browne

Tue, 17 Jul 2007 04:34:19 +0000

It's interesting, if a little sickening, how the U.S. sides with the most corrupt group (in this case, Fatah) in these"divide & conquer' struggles for its proxy, Israel. Hamas was elected by a fair process; and the U.S. & Israel refuse to abide by the law & give them money to which they're legally entitled. These stories of Hamas members shooting Fatah members "without any cause", apparently, bear studying. If the source of these stories is some "even-handed" American paper, let the believer beware! The New York Times' coverage of the first year of the intifada was carefully documented- and showed that 165 Iraely casualties resulted in 197 headlines (or first paragraphs) reporting Israelis killed (sometimes mentioning the same persons twice)- and the549 Palestinian casualties elicited similar coverage on 217 occasions. Of course, Palestinians no doubt have fewer relatives in the area covered by the NYT... so why highlight their deaths to the same level? I guess the jaw-dropper (for me) was that the reporting of the deaths of Israeli children was about identical to the coverage of Palestinian children deaths, even though 5 times as many Palestinian children died in that period. If Israel chooses to "annex the west bank and Gaza" they should do it without any help from U.S. public sector money. The idea that terrorists being "run out of the whole region" are going to simply evaporate somewhere in the desert is pretty funny... might make a good Hollywood movie... like a sequel to "The 10 Commandments" maybe... we could call it "The Unchosen"... ^..^

By: tbrucia

Sat, 16 Jun 2007 15:50:54 +0000

I suppose someone will next suggest putting a wall around every Hamas militant... uh, oh. They already have those... I think they are called jails. Or the alternative used in the West Bank might work... barbed wire enclosures around Jewish settlers, keeping them in their own little prisons scattered about the 'occupied territories'. What a world! Perhaps walls reflect something about human nature: fear and the willingness to make other persons fearful. Uh, oh. That's precisely the definition of cowards and of terrorists, locked in symbiotic embrace: one allowing his/her fears to rule, and the other using fear to rule. What a world! Where is the 21st century's Albert Camus?

By: rc21

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 21:42:39 +0000

Hamas fighters have been taking members of Fatah out into the streets and massacering them even though the fatah members were saying don't shoot we are not Jews. Jimmy Carters friends sure don't seem very cooperative. My advice to Israel is either keep building. or better yet invade and run the terrorists out of the whole region annex the west bank and Gaza.

By: Takumi Ken

Wed, 13 Jun 2007 16:10:04 +0000

A wall may seem like a good idea, and in history we have seen it lead to protection. The Romans kept the Scots (Caledonians) out, Berm has effectively let West Sahara stay annexed, and Israel receives less attacks due to it, but is it really worth it in the long run? Walls such as these are put up to divide people, and while that may keep people safer for a period of time, it does nothing except to breed more problems or fear. Create a near fortress wall to separate Shiite and Sunni and all you will be doing is yelling out to the world you want to keep them as a whole from talking to each other or meeting up with each other. Should the British have built a wall to separate the waring Irish from each other when we had attacks and terrorist bombs? No, for we would not have the peace we have today helped caused by both sides talking to each other and meeting up. South and North Korea's do not have a great chance at peace are not the walls and mine fields for their long running war, but family from both sides meeting up and talking to each other do aid. The Long Walls of Thrace made it harder for Constantinople to be defended. If this "Baghdad Wall" is built, we may see the same for the forces that use it. Not because we shall face the problem of too few troops to cover such an area, but because it will become a symbol or hate and a target for more violence. The best part about the Berlin Wall, Hadrian's Wall, and Antonie Wall is they came down. Many Brits made houses out of the last two and artists sold work for more due to it being on ruins of the first. Walls can help, but ones such as these will only drive the wedge in farther and make it harder for any real peace between the same people with different forms of the religion and culture.

By: tbrucia

Mon, 11 Jun 2007 23:33:08 +0000

A favorite Far Side cartoon: Three fish stand outside a spherical fishbowl -- in the air -- standing on their back fins. The little house inside the fishbowl is in full flames, and the flames are streaming out of the water. One fish turns to the other and says, 'We're screwed now!' -- This always reminds me of Israel, for some reason.

By: rc21

Sun, 10 Jun 2007 15:54:28 +0000

Palestinian terrorists again this week have attacked Israel, and also have been lobbing rockets into civillian areas. KEEP BUILDING.

By: valkyrie607

Thu, 07 Jun 2007 21:12:11 +0000

During a conversation with a friend about crossing borders... "I hate borders. They're stupid." "Why?" "They preserve the illusion that we're not all sharing the same planet. That we can separate our fates from each other."

By: nother

Wed, 06 Jun 2007 06:22:49 +0000

So sorry about this, but I screwed up on an important sentence: "It is working through an invisible iron wall that seems to stand between what one feels and what one can do." I'll go to bed now...

By: nother

Wed, 06 Jun 2007 06:18:41 +0000

It didn't work with the HTML, but the words he underlined were: "feels", "can do", and "willed."

By: nother

Wed, 06 Jun 2007 06:16:08 +0000

I figured this would be a good chance to throw in a passage from a letter Van Gogh sent to his brother on a Sunday afternoon, Oct. 22 1882: (Van Gogh underlines certain words) "For great things do not just happen by impulse but are a succession of small things linked together. What is drawing? How does one come to it? It is working through an invisible iron wall that seems to stand between what one feels and what on can do. How is one to get through that wall - since pounding at it is of no use? In my opinion one has to undermine that wall, filing through it steadily and patiently. And there you are - how can one continue such work assiduously without being distracted or diverted, unless one reflects and orders one's life by principles? And as it is with art so it is with other things. And great things are not something accidental, they must be distinctly willed.

By: Ben

Tue, 29 May 2007 18:54:31 +0000

Our memories are how flexible? Twenty years ago... "Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German, separated from his fellow men. Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar." - R. Reagan remarks at Brandenburg, June 12, 1987. "Whether the Iraqis take them down when we leave, that's on them," 1st Lt. Matthew Holtzendorff (who commands a platoon in the Ghazaliya neighborhood) said. "I don't foresee us taking it down." Time Magazine, May 9, 2007

By: John Navas

Sun, 27 May 2007 03:21:33 +0000

For audio accompaniment, The Wall by Pink Floyd.

By: tbrucia

Fri, 25 May 2007 05:56:07 +0000

////More Palestinian violence today. Israel would be smart to speed up the building of their wall.//// Am I the only one who feels it strange to read about Jews being confined in walled ghettos during the Middle Ages -- and now to see Jews building walls to define the outer walls of their new ghetto? If the Egyptians and Lebanese were to build a floating wall just outside the territorial waters of Israel (perhaps topped with a highway to allow easier traffic flow between Cairo and Beirut) would Israelis feel more secure? Given the history of the Berlin Wall (and the human proclivity to tunnel), how DEEP do the newest Israeli walls go? If missiles become ever more ubiquitous, can a dome be built over Israel? (Perhaps a virtual wall, made of high-energy laser beams, or perhaps a screen of anti-missile missiles, or perhaps some futuristic carbon-fibre dome with vast batteries of energy efficient fluorescent lights hanging down inside to light up Israel...) It will be interesting to see 22nd century Israel and find out what wall worked. Or if none did... And it will be interesting to see if the neighbors simply 'get over' having a Jewish nation in their midst, and simply think of it as 'the Jewish Quarter', a place one drives around in order to get from one place to another.... I wish Douglas Adams (author of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy') were still around. He would have something interesting to say....

By: tbrucia

Thu, 17 May 2007 03:33:55 +0000

Here's an interesting snippet by Leif Pettersenfrom on .... "The menacing three mile long "Peace Wall" runs down the center of the dubious area, separating the neighborhoods like the former East and West Berlin. --- I wandered up Shankill Road first. I'm not sure what I was expecting to see, but it was pretty much like walking up any street in the U.K., other than the hundreds of Union Jack flags (the Protestant's sign of allegiance to England) decorating the entire length of the street. Businesses were open and busy, young kids were running around and little old ladies were inching their tiny carts home from the market. No one looked remotely sinister and everyone seemed indifferent to me walking slowly, taking pictures and scribbling lengthy notes. Undoubtedly, I was about the millionth tourist whose curiosity had led them up the street. --- Eventually I arrived at Northumberland Street, the lone remaining perpendicular street that intersects and connects Shankill Road and Falls Road as well as being the only break in the Peace Wall. I headed in the direction of Falls Road and was a little stunned at how the surroundings changed as soon as I left Shankill Road. The street is totally bare with 15 foot high walls enclosing it on both sides, lined on the top with steel spikes and barbed wire. The break in the Wall acts as a security check point during times of heightened tension between the neighborhoods. There are two huge, solid steel gates that are used as a pass-through lock. To get through, you pass through one gate and after it closes behind you the other gate opens. The gates are unmanned and propped open these days, but everything is in fresh working order and ready to be clamped shut if things should ever flare up again. --- Apart from the intimidating gates, the Peace Wall is huge and bare, except where political murals have been painted alongside advertisements..."

By: rc21

Thu, 17 May 2007 01:42:44 +0000

More Palestinian violence today. Israel would be smart to speed up the building of their wall.

By: Potter

Thu, 17 May 2007 00:30:54 +0000

Is this better? The "Wailing Wall" in Jerusalem is the "Western Wall" of the Jewish Second Temple. It connects in a way with the Viet Nam Wall memorial b/c it is here that people go to pray, release feelings, remember, pay respects. It also ( along with Al Aksa mosque above, also the Temple Mount) marks a general physical ground zero in the conflict between not only Israel and the Palestinians, but also between Islam and the West and has been the site of re-ignited passion and violence over recent years.

By: Potter

Wed, 16 May 2007 12:00:33 +0000

Wooooops sorry again.

By: Potter

Sun, 13 May 2007 00:12:17 +0000

The Viet Nam Memorial Wall Here is another picture, this of a soldier at The Wall in 2002 see also (Another name was added May 5th 2007 to make 58,256 names total.)

By: nabobnico

Sat, 12 May 2007 06:29:06 +0000

This is slighlty off topic, but has anyone seen this site where the iraqi is sleeping in a Chicago gallery and anyone can fire a paintball gun at him remotely via the web. He is letting his wall down...

By: sidewalker

Sat, 12 May 2007 03:58:51 +0000

Another barrier that deserves mention is US missile shield. General Yuri Balyevsky, the Chief of General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, has recently called the shield being constructed in Eastern Europe the next Berlin Wall.

By: nabobnico

Fri, 11 May 2007 22:19:24 +0000

Here is Riverbend's (The iraqi blogger's) comments on the wall. Sadly, she has fled Iraq...

By: tbrucia

Fri, 11 May 2007 11:31:46 +0000

When you open your eyes, it's amazing.... An excellent Israeli movie: 'The Syrian Bride' shows the effects of the fence mentality, and the solution is both obvious and inevitable.

By: sidewalker

Thu, 10 May 2007 23:45:00 +0000

Tell me, does anyone else see the irony in the fact the country at the forefront of expanding global capital markets and the unfettered flow of investments dollars is the one eagerly building border fences, prisons, gated communities and, now, the Baghdad Wall.

By: nabobnico

Thu, 10 May 2007 19:42:51 +0000

Peggy Sue, Another person who tagged the Great Wall was Barry McGee. He is an artist in San Francisco who I was in school with at SFAI. He is a tagger whose work is very sad and eloquent. A lot of his stuff has been in galleries too. I remember he showed me a picture of his piece on the wall but I couldn't find it on the web. This is a link to a PBS number on him... And also, there is Banksy, the secretive artist, who we should have a show on simply becaus he is amazing, but here is link to a piece he did on the Israeli Wall... This is the Google list... And this is my favorite...

By: nabobnico

Thu, 10 May 2007 19:32:17 +0000

There is also the idea of us and them that was mentioned earlier. The Berlin wall isolated one family from the other, neighbor from neighbor but over time the "wall" of diference between the two grew ever stronger, as new generations were exposed to different things and lost the shared cultural memory that defined them before the building of the wall. As one side fattened themselves on McDonalds and became acustomed to the signs of the west, the other wallowed in a pit of fear and paranoia. Has thaqt wall come down in the twenty years since the fall of the wall? Or is it more durable? Edward Said's point in his book Orientalism is that the west, through her academies, her institutions, created an "unnatural" wall of seperation between Us and Them, between the Occident and the Orient. It seems to me that this idea could be quite widely expanded to include the actions of an occupying power to divide or seperate a population from itself. What are the dynamics of power involved in this, and how readily does the divided population accede to this? Arguably, the residents of Sabra/Shattila have a very different cultural background after three generations behind a wall than do an equivelent palestinian family living in say, Bekka? Has the manifest wall served to create a larger, cultural wall? I guess my point is that we create an "other," an "orient" as soon as we build a wall seperating someone from someone else. Nick's question is very interesting—it makes us even more of a colonial power when we arrive, as a third party, to seperate one from the other, shii'a from sunn'a. Once again we are bringing our constructions of a safe and pleasurable world and importing them into and onto another society...

By: nabobnico

Thu, 10 May 2007 19:19:56 +0000

Nick, In response to your question about walling off within one country...the English built a hedge (albight one with sharp thorns) down through the middle of the Indian sub continent in the 1840's (while I normaly don't cite Wikipedia, at the moment this is the best I could do...) And I think the Australians did something like that to control the movement of Aboriginals—there was a movie called Rabbit Proof Fence out a few years ago that dealt with this... What were our fences like around the reservations? What about around plantations? The Japanese internment camps?

By: peggysue

Thu, 10 May 2007 17:41:35 +0000

Back when we were talking about global hip-hop I read about a young chinese girl who tagged the great wall of China.

By: hurley

Thu, 10 May 2007 12:31:13 +0000

Synchronicity alive and well:

By: hurley

Thu, 10 May 2007 11:32:56 +0000

Any excuse to include Kafka in the conversation (speaking of Czechs and walls):

By: hurley

Thu, 10 May 2007 10:52:37 +0000

A reference to the Czech wall: "in October 1999, a wall was erected to separate Romani and non-Romani residents in a district of the city of Ustí nad Labem. This action drew international criticism and a statement from Günter Verheugen, the EU's enlargement commissioner, who referred to the construction of the wall as a "violation of human rights" (Poolos, 21 October 1999)."

By: hurley

Thu, 10 May 2007 10:48:54 +0000

Nick: "But Iâ€(image) m still wondering if this intra-nation-state wall-bonanza is unique to Iraq. How many other countries have had to forcibly separate putatively equal citizens from one another?" A few years ago the Czech Republic proposed to build a wall around their Roma population. And speaking of Roma, the walls around the Jewish ghetto not far from where I live were in place until not long ago (a rhetorical evasion since I don't have the precise date in mind). How goes the novel you mentioned a while back?

By: hobie75

Wed, 09 May 2007 22:13:15 +0000

In regards to walls, I think of the Far Side cartoon best described by this website: One of my favourites (there are so many) is one in which a suburban father is pointing out a singing bird in his backyard to his son. A network of white picket fences that separate the yards of his suburban neighbours are clearly visible in the picture. He tells his son that the bird's singing serves to mark its territory and that this is a behaviour that is "...restricted to lower animals.".

By: Nick

Wed, 09 May 2007 18:59:51 +0000

hurley, thanks (again). I ought to be more specific about what Iâ€m wondering. And because Iâ€m still sussing it out, I should start by ruling out certain criteria. What Iâ€m wondering about probably doesnâ€t include the Mason-Dixon Line because I donâ€t think that was intended to restrict the movements of putatively equal citizens. And the ‘gated community†paradigm might or might not parallel the Iraq situation, because the scale is so dramatically different, and because I rather doubt that gated communities arise from government policing policy! (Not from an authentically democratic government, at least.) Hereâ€s something of import Iâ€ve gathered from your links: separation-barrier walls in Iraq arenâ€t necessarily unique to the 82nd Airborneâ€s: “The sealing off of whole districts with walls has had a mixed response in Sunni neighbourhoods.” – Cockburn, Counterpunch. But Iâ€m still wondering if this intra-nation-state wall-bonanza is unique to Iraq. How many other countries have had to forcibly separate putatively equal citizens from one another? Anyway, Iâ€m threatening you with “more later” too! ;-) Because Iâ€m starting to wonder about how physical, geographical walls are manifestations of the interior walls erected between humans via our enculturation. As in: beliefs in our in-groupâ€s ‘specialnessâ€, and the reciprocal ‘otherness†of all those humans beyond our culturally defined in-groupings. (But I have errands to run first.)[...]

By: hurley

Wed, 09 May 2007 18:30:28 +0000

Nick: The Mason Dixon line. A wall a vertical extension of a line, after all. And then there are those disturbing things, "gated communities." In a rush. More later, he threatened.

By: Nick

Wed, 09 May 2007 17:51:02 +0000

Reading hurleyâ€(image) s latest contributions sparked a miniscule epiphany: the Great Wall of China, the walls around ancient city-states, Hadrianâ€(image) s Wall, the West Bank wall, and the US-Mexico separation barrier are all intended to block human movement across ‘internationalâ€(image) boundaries. This applies even to the Berlin Wall. Question: is the Baghdad wall the first separation barrier designed to block human movement—of putatively equal citizens—within one country/nation/state? Does anyone know? If so, what does that say about Iraq as a nation-state? What does it say about the Bush project to 'liberate' Iraq (and its oilfields), and to make it an American-friendly psuedo-democratic (like the USA) republic ?

By: hurley

Wed, 09 May 2007 17:09:29 +0000

And then of course there are the walls surrounding Ancient Rome, the subject of an ongoing project by the fine American filmaker Jon Jost (Sure Fire -- see it if you haven't):

By: Potter

Wed, 09 May 2007 16:19:48 +0000

Hurley- what an interesting angle! Another sequel could focus on the graffiti on walls, as messages, as art.

By: hurley

Wed, 09 May 2007 14:46:10 +0000

By: hurley

Wed, 09 May 2007 14:40:58 +0000

The Great Wall of Baghdad Rises: How the Surge is Failing: which has the quote I alluded to: A bizarre flavour has been given to Saadoun Street because the government has encouraged artists to paint the giant concrete blast barriers with uplifting if unlikely scenes of mountain torrents, meadows in spring and lake side scenes. Many of the pictures, all in garish greens, blues and yellows, look more like Switzerland than Iraq. Muqtada al-Sadr, for his part, is encouraging artists to paint the blast barriers with scenes illustrating the anguish inflicted on the Iraqi people by the US occupation.

By: hurley

Wed, 09 May 2007 14:05:50 +0000

Good suggestion, tbrucia; also your juxtaposition of walls and tunnels. Sequel, anybody? Barrier walls generally a sign of ultimate if not imminent decline, the Great Wall of China perhaps the pre-eminent example. The Great Wall also used to be the only man-made object visible from outer space, a tempting bit of symbolism to the little green men. I read recently that the struggle in Baghdad is being played out not only around the wall, but on the wall, with the "authorities" encouraging artists to paint scenes of snowy peaks and rilling streams, etc,, and the "insurgents" advocating depictions of battle and violence.

By: Potter

Wed, 09 May 2007 10:17:34 +0000

I heard Michael Bechloss, presidential historian the other day on his book tour. He has a new book about some extraordinary ( courageous) acts of our presidents and cites Reagan's challenge to Gorbachev to tear down the wall. I posted the bit about Rostropovich meeting Reagan in 1987 trying to connect the two but apparently, according to Bechsloss Reagan was also listening to his wife Nancy and then Suzanne Massie, his expert on Russian/Soviet affairs.

By: herbert browne

Wed, 09 May 2007 05:19:48 +0000

Re .."The phenomenon of suicide bombing, religious extremism, and internecine violence cuts a wide swath across south Asia, the mideast and North Africa, from Pakistan to Afghanistan to Iran to Kurdisatn to Iraq to Turkey to Syria to (etc etc).."- I guess Northern Ireland would have fit those parameters, until fairly recently... as well as some Balkan states. Perhaps we should include the Sino-Tibetan dispute- one that has no taint of Islam to color it. Re .."every time sanctions or other strictures have been imposed on the Palestinians itâ€(image) s been in response to some act of violence theyâ€(image) ve committed.."- And what was the nature of the Original "act of violence" that brought Israel into their midst? Today brought a revelation on this subject my way: that Israel has never formally recognized "the Green Line" or ANY OTHER actual "limit" to their eastern border! I suppose that, when questioned sharply, a few Zionists might express an interest in calling it "good" at the Euphrates... & let their Palestinian cousins go the way of the Hittites... Most of us rely on four (or more) walls and a roof. Four fences, even with a roof, wouldn't cut it, for most (well, maybe in Hawai'i). So, let's extrapolate the meaning of large walls external to a community as a kind of "Big House", I guess... a House full of houses. (OK, I have to stop... because the word "house" has begun to look totally foreign and a little ridiculous... kinda like when "ohio" looks like an old-fashioned car... only less meaningful) ^..^

By: sidewalker

Wed, 09 May 2007 01:39:40 +0000

Hole in the wall Don't Fence Me In: The Cole Porter and Robert Fletcher song sung by David Byrne.

By: Nick

Tue, 08 May 2007 19:35:58 +0000

This show & thread got me thinking about the differences between fences and boundary walls. The former seems more (but not exclusively) livestock or animal focused. From Wikipedia: Fence:“A fence is a freestanding structure designed to restrict or prevent movement across a boundary. It is generally distinguished from a wall by the lightness of its construction: a wall is usually restricted to such barriers made from solid brick or concrete, blocking vision as well as passage (though the definitions overlap somewhat).” That Wikipedia entry includes these interesting quotes: (quote) “Good fences make good neighbors.” — Robert Frost (ironically, in the poem “Mending Wall”). “A good neighbour is a fellow who smiles at you over the back fence, but doesn't climb over it.” — Arthur Baer “There is something about jumping a horse over a fence, something that makes you feel good. Perhaps itâ€s the risk, the gamble. In any event itâ€s a thing I need.” — William Faulkner “Fear is the highest fence.” — Dudley Nichols “What have they done to the earth?/ What have they done to our fair sister?/ Ravaged and plundered/ and ripped her/ and bit her/ stuck her with knives/ in the side of the dawn/ and tied her with fences/ and dragged her down.” — Jim Morrison, of The Doors (unquote) Fences would seem largely adequate for restricting the movements of livestock. But, as the first three quotes illuminate, fences are easily circumvented—a fence requires people to respect it as a boundary. Itâ€s also interesting to ponder the perceived need for fences intended to restrict human movements: does this perceived need betray an equation (or prejudice) that ‘others†(i.e., not my in-group) = ‘less than human†(wandering animals)? Anyway, fences neednâ€t be open or light. They can be stone, too: “Rock fence”—which I suppose, in cultural (and technological) evolution, gave rise to the development of big honkin†walls, ala the Berlin Wall, Hadrianâ€s Wall, Great Wall of China, etc.; which, along with fences, fit within this concept: Separation barrier , – a subset of wall: (quote) Boundary walls include privacy walls, boundary-marking walls, and city walls. These intergrade into fences; the conventional different[...]

By: Potter

Tue, 08 May 2007 19:02:55 +0000

Thank you tbrucia for the larger perspective. I don;t want to take up the thread with endless arguing about Israel and the Palestinians.

By: Potter

Tue, 08 May 2007 18:48:49 +0000

… the Palestinians immediately used those locations to launch missiles at them! Of course- there was no peace agreement. Israel left Lebanon because it could no longer stay there; occupation was a drain on the IDF, solders were dying, many Israeliâ€s no longer supported it. This was NOT part of any peace deal remember. Where did that leave Palestinian refugees? You donâ€t get it that Palestinians are legitimately fighting for a land of their own, at least for what is rightfully theirs. But you are not alone on this one, unfortunately. I am not talking about extremists that want to destroy Israel or say they want to. …The Palestinians†clear preference for violence,…. it would be suicidal for Israel to withdraw from any more territory if they value their security. That needs to be tested AFTER they get a state, after agreement, after referendums on both sides. This does mean some risk. But Israel can well afford it and can deal with it. For goodness sake Israel is armed to the teeth with all sorts of sophisticated weaponry!! This way, hanging on, building walls, things are getting worse not better. Resentments are building, militant tactics and weapons are stockpiling and getting more sophisticated. The status quo is untenable. Palestinians are fighting (via their militants) to end the occupation. As long as there is occupation, their preference is for disrupting Israeli normalcy and they feel more cause with no peace process. If Israel is comfortable nothing happens. Israelâ€s preference it seems is violence and to force submission. How can anyone arguing fairly discount Israelâ€s violence? They have the power to convince people that they can be a reliable partner in negotiations for peace by BEHAVING peacefully….. They want reciprocity and I donâ€t blame them. You argue as if Israel can call the shots. You argue pre-conditions. As well you have to separate out internal conflicts. At the moment there is relative quiet. So what is happening? And speaking of reliable partner- read the history- Israel has violated agreements as well, withdrawn and reentered, allowing continuous settlement and confiscation of Palestinian property. There is lack of trust on both sides. If you go to Israel and look around you understand right away Israelâ€s power over Palestinians and the injustice and why they fight. They will behave themselves when they have something they donâ€t want to lose. Itâ€s not like Iraq at all - Iraq is a country. On the subject of rationality, one of the mistakes Americans keep making WRT that region is to expect people to behave rationally. You are talking about a good deal of the world if not all t[...]

By: tbrucia

Tue, 08 May 2007 17:48:31 +0000

It strikes me that walls assume that the people on one side are 'We' and the people on the other are 'They'. The more one thinks about that assumption the leakier it gets. OBJECTIVELY, there's often a much larger gap between people living on the SAME side of a wall (e.g. me and Donald Trump) than between me and someone living on the other side of a wall (e.g. me and a salesman in Guadalajara). BUT, as pointed out by the late Kurt Vonnegut in Cat's Cradle, humans are addicted to granfalloons . Curiously, as soon as some people build walls, other people take up the occupation of building tunnels... Perhaps if there is a 'we' and 'they' in the Wall Community, it's a contest between The Wall Builders and The Tunnelers. The two groups seem to have very distinct worldviews, and they reflect both sides of the human mind: the curious and adventurous v. the fearful and timid. Walls are the refuge of people who think external structures can provide something that (I suspect) they can never deliver.... I'll leave it to others to name 'the user benefits' of walls.... Should prove interesting!

By: plnelson

Tue, 08 May 2007 15:55:44 +0000

No, what the Palestinians have been fighting for is a state of their own, COMPLETE withdrawal from the entire occupied territories. When Israel left Gaza unilaterally the Palestinian suspicion ( and the slogan) was “Gaza first, Gaza last” Regardless of their suspicion the bottom line is that when Israel left Gaza and South Lebanon the Palestinians immediately used those locations to launch missiles at them! If their goal was to convince the Israelis (or anyone else) of the wisdom of withdrawing from the occupied territories then that was a completely irrational thing to do. Almost every time there's an outbreak of violence in the region it's initiated by the Palestinians. The Palestinians' clear preference for violence, both against Israel and against each other suggests that it would be suicidal for Israel to withdraw from any more territory if they value their security. All the Palestinians have is world opinion, the power to disrupt normal life in Israel through terrorism/rocket fire and withholding recognition. That's not all the Palestinians have. They have the power to convince people that they can be a reliable partner in negotiations for peace by BEHAVING peacefully. They have the power to renounce violence and return to the negotiating table. If you believe that they are rational (I'm not convinced) then in purely rational terms they lose NOTHING by behaving peacefully since their current strategy is simply not working to their benefit. On the subject of rationality, one of the mistakes Americans keep making WRT that region is to expect people to behave rationally. The phenomenon of suicide bombing, religious extremism, and internecine violence cuts a wide swath across south Asia, the mideast and North Africa, from Pakistan to Afghanistan to Iran to Kurdisatn to Iraq to Turkey to Syria to Saudi Arabia to Somalia to the Sudan to Lebanon to Palestine to Egypt to Libya to Algeria to Morocco. Is it tribalism? Religion? Subjugation of women? (N.B. that males tend to be violent, females much less so - so if you create a society where women have a reduced role, then their moderating influence on the culture is less). Whatever the ingredients to this weird, toxic violent cultural stew, a wall seems like a good idea if you're trying to carve out a little island of civilization, peace and democracy.