Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 15, 2004

Route of barrier serves Israeli political goals

Barry A. Feinstein continues what in Israel we call the conversation of the deaf ("Terror forces Israel to act in self-defense," Opinion * Commentary, July 9). The Israeli government and its supporters -- including Mr. Feinstein -- cite security problems to justify Israel's separation barrier, but no one denies these problems. The international community is only opposing the route of such a barrier.

Every military official I have spoken to on the subject admits that the route of the barrier is patently political.

The main consideration driving the route is the desire to encompass as many settlements as possible to influence future negotiations over the West Bank. This is not a legitimate reason to enclose thousands of Palestinians in enclaves, now defined as closed military zones, and separate hundreds of thousands of farmers from their lands.

In fact, security is compromised by this lengthy, windy route; the barrier as currently planned is twice as long as the Green Line, requiring many more troops to patrol it and dozens of checkpoints that would be unnecessary if the barrier did not go through occupied territory.

There is no human right greater than the right to life, and Israel has the right to protect its citizens from acts of violence. If the security experts believe that a barrier is the only way to protect us, they are well within their rights to construct such a barrier -- on Israeli territory.

But Israel cannot manipulate our legitimate security fears in order to justify a patently political project.

Jessica Montell

Jerusalem, Israel

The writer is executive director of B'Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

Like other Israeli apologists, Barry A. Feinstein quotes selected international laws and avoids others to make a case for the so-called security barrier being built by Israel in the West Bank.

But looking at a map of the existing portion and the planned extension of the barrier would make anyone question whether its purpose is truly security or to grab more land for Jewish settlers. It snakes through the West Bank incorporating settlements into the Israeli side, and further disrupts the daily lives of tens of thousands of Palestinians.

The International Court of Justice's ruling on July 9 shows that international law is on the side of the Palestinians in this situation. Unfortunately, the Israeli government has a history of not respecting laws that don't suit its expansionist goals.

Paul Baroody

Baltimore

Valuing convenience over Israel's safety

Israel's construction of a security fence is not significantly different from actions frequently taken by governments to protect the safety of their citizens. Some inconvenience is frequently an inevitable result of such actions.

For example, civilized societies impose speed limits on highways to save lives and prevent injury to motorists. These limits may delay people in reaching their destinations. Also, government workplace rules prevent injury to some workers, but may increase the time workers require to complete a task and thereby cause added expense.

Similarly, Israel's security fence, which has reduced attacks by Palestinian militants by 90 percent and cut Israeli casualties by more than 70 percent, has inconvenienced a limited number of Palestinians.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague, in ruling that the fence violates international law, turned on its head the usual rule which guides civilized societies ("Opinion goes against Israel on building of wall," July 10).

In the court's view, the convenience of a few Palestinians is more important than the lives and safety of Israeli citizens. This decision defies common sense.

Berryl Speert

Baltimore

Impose sanctions for illegal barrier

The United States has imposed sanctions against countries for real and imagined wrongs. Why don't we impose sanctions against Israel for building its illegal fence?

Failing that, now that the world court agrees that the fence imposes undue hardships on Palestinians ("Opinion goes against Israel on building of wall," July 10), I suggest that the rest of the world do what the United States doesn't have the moral conviction to do -- impose its own sanctions against Israel.

Shirley Hopkins-Thomas

Owings Mills

Listing Bush twins with `crooks' is ugly

The Sun's article "Martha Stewart offers to work off sentence," (July 11) carried a sub-headline reading "White-collar crooks have community service option." We were very displeased to see that President Bush's daughters, Jenna Bush and Barbara Bush, were included in the "crooks" category along with the likes of Winona Ryder, a shoplifter; Darryl Strawberry, who committed drug-related crimes; Zsa Zsa Gabor, who assaulted a police officer, and Leona Helmsley, a tax evader.

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