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Guest: Israeli-West Bank barrier essential to preventing civilian casualties

BY JOSE ASSOULINE - GUEST OPINION | DECEMBER 09, 2009 7:30 AM

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In response to Patrick Hitchon’s guest opinion in the Nov. 19 Daily Iowan, walls are necessary and useful. In fact, we all have walls around our home, our institutions, and commercial entities. They create a form of comfort and keep noxious elements out.

We are all impressed that Hitchon remembers the litany of numerical identifiers of the U.N. resolutions pertaining to the wall separating Israel from its neighbors of the West Bank. However, he conveniently seems to have difficulty remembering the simple reasons for which it was built.

Here are some numbers to remember: more than 1,000 Israelis, as well as 64 foreign nationals, were slaughtered by suicide bombers and other assaults. Women taking their children to school and others going to the supermarket with grandma were shredded to pieces — all dead. Many innocent civilians died in buses that exploded because suicide terrorists came from across the border for no other reasons but to kill. From September 2000 to the cease-fire in 2003, 17,405 attacks in Israel and territories were recorded, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Shots were fired at passing vehicles 2,199 times, roadside bombs were detonated 1,091 times, 64 Israelis were killed, and another 657 bombs were found and disarmed before they exploded.

Israel’s security fence has proven to be extremely effective in preventing aggressive infiltration. Walls separate people; this one helps people on both sides survive.

Hitchon frequently projects his revisionist views and selective memory of historical facts to our community. He ought to keep in mind that we are at an age of technology that allows for rapid and accurate verification of facts and events. He is not fooling anyone. He is correct only in that many U.N. Security Council resolutions on the subject have not taken hold. In U.N. Resolution 181, the General Assembly decided to implement the partition of the British-mandated Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. It called for the complete evacuation of the British troops by Aug. 1, 1948. Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria attacked the newly-established state of Israel very soon after.

The consolidated Arab armies also included the Arab residents of Palestine, who were promised large real state rewards after victory. It didn’t happen. Other failed U.N. resolutions include: Resolution 118 (regarding Egyptian violation of maritime laws by blocking the Suez Canal), Resolution 234 (concerning violation of numerous Arab armies for attacking Israel in 1967), and Resolution 332 (dealing with the unprovoked Yom Kippur war in 1973). There are many more UN resolutions that have not been observed by Arab countries united in the intention of destroying the state of Israel.

So who is to blame? Who did not abide to the terms of the most recent resolutions and preferred the lobbing of Qassam rockets directed at school yards? Who sent suicide bombers into buses? In his article, Hitchon asks the U.S. to pressure Israel to remove the protective wall. Americans still harbor the poignant memory of thousands of innocent people killed at the hands of cowardly terrorist acts because of unprotected borders.

So, I say, leave that wall alone — at least until terrorism is eradicated in the region and people of all creeds and religions can finally live in just and equitable peace.

Jose Assouline is a visiting associate professor in the UI’s biomedical engineering department.


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