On the 9th of July in the year of their Lord 2004, the Knights at the International Court of Justice ruled that (with US Knight Thomas Buergenthal against) the construction of Israel’s ‘security’ wall is contrary to international law, must be ceased and the existing structure dismantled. Furthermore, this Court of International Knights ruled that Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law and make reparation to all Palestinians for all damage caused by the construction of the wall.
The Court also asked citizens across all lands not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction. (Earth to the United States: Are you listening? Over.)
The wall is the brainchild of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who keeps telling the world that this 1.7 billion dollar project is merely a “temporary solution”. When asked why he doesn’t use that 1.7 billion to help the Palestinians whose land his country occupies in an effort to show good faith, or why he doesn’t use that money to build bridges instead of walls, he just scowled from the top of his Tonka truck and drove away really slowly (as Tonka trucks are wont to doing).
The fact remains that the wall’s construction, coupled with the establishment of illegal Israeli settlements, has the following two very clear objectives, neither of which are meant to protect Israelis: (1) to grab some more Palestinian land; and, (2) to alter the demographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Sharon isn’t lying, you just have to learn to speak Israeli: when these objectives are met, the wall will come down, allowing Israel to steal even more Palestinian land, without the hassle of dealing with the aboriginal Palestinians, who will have conveniently died by that time. The wall must be temporary, for it must one day come down so that the dream that is Greater Eretz Israel may be realized.
The Knights of the International Court also wrote: “The United Nations, and especially the General Assembly and the Security Council, should consider what further action is required to bring to an end the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and the associated regime, taking due account of the present Advisory opinion.”
This decision will now go to the U.N. General Assembly, where diplomats are expected to press for a resolution ordering Israel to comply with the ruling or face international sanctions. Most likely, this issue will end up before the Security Council where the United States will use its veto to forestall any attempt to impose sanctions.
In 1945, when men were called together to create and maintain this world’s highest Court, they were asked to ensure that their rulings lie in accordance with international law, a legal system set up to protect those who could not protect themselves. A legal system created as a viable and realistic alternative to war and to international violence, and where alternatives were not possible, to at least limit such dangers by holding perpetrators accountable.
Yesterday, the Knights gave one such ruling, made with the intention of speaking against the Israeli perpetrators and on behalf of the 397,000 denied and occupied Palestinian voices who would, with thanks to the wall, live in almost completely encircled enclaves, a situation that the Court defines as “tantamount to annexation,” impeding the “Palestinian right to self-determination”.
Unfortunately, and although the Knights of the Court explicitly stated that “the wall gravely infringes a number of rights of Palestinians residing in the territory occupied by Israel, and the infringements-¦cannot be justified by military exigencies or by the requirements of national security or public order," the ruling has already been denied by the perpetrators. Israel’s deputy prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said the fence would not be removed. He was kind enough to explain how the wall “-¦is probably uncomfortable and inconvenient for the Palestinians who live alongside of it but it doesn’t kill.”
He’s right. The wall doesn’t “kill,” it merely paralyses the movement of those who are encircled by it, cutting them off from their schools, farms, work and even their families. The wall, while it doesn’t “kill” Palestinians, shatters their hope of a viable and contiguous state of their own where they can live in peace and under their own sovereign rule, free from occupation and all its glorious decoration (most commonly seen in the shade of ‘blood red’). This wall that doesn’t “kill,” merely facilitate the suffocation of Palestinians, but when Israel’s only concern is its own Jewish demographic, the suffocation of non-Jews isn’t their problem.
Olmert also refers to the suicide bombings that do “kill” (he’s a smart one, that Olmert), pondering: ‘What’s a wall compared to dead folks? A wall can be torn down, but the dead can not be brought back to life! Israel needs to protect itself! Israel needs security! Look: Almost a 1,000 dead Jews since 2001! Palestinians dead? Only 3,000! SHUT UP! I don’t care about Palestinians, they’re not Jews! Didn’t you hear me? I said SHUT UP! A THOUSAND JEWS DIED! WALL! I MEAN ‘FENCE’! YOU’RE TRICKING ME! YOU HATE ME! ALL OF YOU HATE US! GET ME THE WALL! WHERE’S BUSH? HE PROMISED! Schutzpah! Kabutz! Bagel! Amen.’
And so, ‘Yes’, Israel has the right, the need and indeed the duty to protect herself. Since Israel is not willing to address how it is that she has brought destruction on to her own people because she will not dismantle her own illegal occupation of Palestinian territories, and she refuses to glance at the 5,000,000 plus Palestinians of whom she has made refugees, then she should build a wall. If necessary, she should build a wall that’s taller and thicker than this one. Build that wall and shut out the world, maybe even put a lid on it, and only give the key to your only friend, America. Build that wall, but build it on your own land (stolen) between Israel and Palestine, and not between Palestinians and their homes and families.
Why this ruling does matter
Israel goes to the most extreme lengths to falsely manufacture its image as a light unto all nations, the only democracy in the Middle East, a land of justice and righteousness, of human rights and socialism, and most importantly, an innocent victim of terrorism. That the world’s most respected court has ruled Israeli actions illegal, is a serious and severe blow to Israel’s image the world over. That Israel’s favorite bedfellow is America, means that this ruling extends to American behavior as well.
As identified by Lawrence of Cyberia: ‘Israeli Justice Minister Tommy Lapid has been having kittens over the international repercussions of defeat at the I.C.J. In a leaked speech to the Israeli cabinet, he warned in January 2004 that unless the route of the Wall is changed to follow the pre-1967 border, the I.C.J. court hearing will be the beginning of a process that will turn Israel into an apartheid-era South Africa [which] will be boycotted in every international forum . And for the past week Israeli officials have been secretly seeking reassurances from the U.S. that it will use its veto to prevent any effective sanctions being imposed at the U.N. to force compliance with the law.’
That America will most certainly veto any proposed sanctions against Israel, after the world’s highest court has spoken, is a suicidal PR move. Ultimately, this ruling is as terrible for the Israelis as it is for the Americans.
‘Amal’ is the Arabic word for ‘Hope’
While cruising the International Court’s ruling, I was sarcastically reading aloud the damning statements written out in black and white. The bottom line is, or so I thought, the wall is a "fait accompli". The Palestinians have won a political war, but nothing will change. The ruling will make for excellent PR, but who cares? Who cares about the ruling when Palestinians continue to suffocate?
And it was with that blind and hopeless perspective that I visited a home this evening, where I sat with a man born in 1924. He was born in a land named Palestine, and was a father at the ago of 24 when the name of his land became The Occupied Palestinian Territories. He has lived for 56 years under foreign military occupation, experiencing the humiliation of occupation firsthand. I asked him about his opinion of the ruling, and he told me he thought it brilliant.
I tried to make my case against it, explaining that the ruling was nothing more than dust in the wind. He smiled at me and told me that it was a political win and that it gave Palestinians amal, making them feel a little less lonely in their struggle. Palestinians have international law on their side, and yesterday, that was solidified once more.
To this man, this ruling is another brick in the road to coexistence, to that day when all physical walls as well as ideological walls built by hate will be destroyed by the will of both Palestinian Arabs and Jewish Israelis who want to live as neighbors and family in one state. I sat and listened respectfully, all the while asking: who am I to argue? Who am I to lose hope when a man who has lived and breathed the abyss of hopelessness still seems to find it? And with that-¦I used what hope he gave me to write this with the wish that you find a little of that hope as well.