Is­rael’s walls are be­com­ing Europe’s walls

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY DAVID NEW­MAN

WATCH­ING THE news of the past few weeks, one is struck by how coun­tries that have spent much of the past 50 years es­pous­ing the con­cept of open borders, and even a “border­less” world, are reneg­ing on that pol­icy.

The mass flow of refugees from the war-torn coun­tries of the Mid­dle East and the famine-rav­aged coun­tries of Africa has re­sulted in a re­con­struc­tion of phys­i­cal borders in and around Europe.

Phys­i­cal bar­ri­ers be­tween states, we had been led to as­sume, were no longer nec­es­sary in an era of peace and neigh­bourly re­la­tions.

In Is­rael, where our borders have al­ways been a point of de­bate, and where only two (those with Egypt and Jor­dan) have ever re­ceived full in­ter- na­tional recog­ni­tion by virtue of the peace treaties that have been signed, many borders were left open.

For well over 30 years, the bor­der be­tween Is­rael and Egypt was not fenced or walled in, while the bor­der run­ning along the west of the coun­try from Elat-Aqaba in the south to the Jor­dan-Is­rael-Syria meet­ing point in the north, was lim­ited to a flimsy, of­ten di­lap­i­dated, fence, which few on any side had any de­sire to cross.

In Is­rael, borders have re­turned with a vengeance. Start­ing 10 years ago, we uni­lat­er­ally con­structed the sep­a­ra­tion / se­cu­rity bar­rier / fence / wall (delete which­ever term you are un­com­fort­able with), sep­a­rat­ing Is­rael from the West Bank and ef­fec­tively clos­ing the bor­der to Pales­tini­ans.

Any­one who has ever used any of the five ma­jor cross­ing points along the route of the sep­a­ra­tion bar­rier will know that, while Is­rael may be averse to call­ing it a po­lit­i­cal “bound­ary”, it func­tions like any in­ter­na­tional bor­der, with doc­u­ments ex­am­ined,

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