Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Who are the Israelis opposing the security fence?

Well, it seems that another anonymous comment has piqued my interest. I don't know whether it's the same "anonymous" or a different one than before, or whether there's just something inherently special about those anonymous commenters.

Here it is, on this thread:

At 3:40 PM, Anonymous said...

Just out of curiosity, if it is anti-semitic or anti-Israel to ask Israel to get rid of the fence/wall, what does that make the millions of Israelis who want the same?

(By the way, I was asserting that it was not necessarily anti-Semitic to be against the wall; there were other commenters claiming that it was.)

Here's my attempt at an answer to the question "what does that make the millions [sic] of Israelis who want the same?":

The short version

Try any of the following:

1) Ultra-orthodox ultra-religious Jews

2) Leftists

3) Arabs

4) self-hating anti-Semitic Jews

5) suicidal

The long version

I'm not sure where you got the idea that there are millions of Israelis who want to get rid of the security fence. First, take a look at these population figures, from 2003. The entire population of Israel is 6.7 million, but 1.3 million of them are Arab Israelis. The Jewish population of Israel is 5.4 million.

Now, take a look at the results of polls conducted in March of 2004 on the security fence, as reported in the left-leaning Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz . You will note that there is an almost-unheard-of degree of near-unanimity in the opinions of Jewish Israelis on the security fence: 84% support it and 13% oppose it.

The thirteen percent of the Jewish population of Israel (5.4 million) opposing the fence would therefore number about 700,000. This is not the "millions" of which you speak, but it is indeed a sizeable number (the only way you could get a figure of over a million is to include the Arab Israelis, but I'm assuming that's not what you had in mind, or you wouldn't have asked the question).

Who are these Jewish Israelis who oppose the fence? As far as we can tell from the article, they appear to be mainly members of the following Israeli parties: National Union, the National Religious Party (NRP), Shas, and Meretz. Although the majority of the members of these parties still support the fence, the percentages of supporters are much smaller than in the rest of the population.

Who are these parties? All but Meretz would fit answer (1), ultra-Orthodox ultra-religious Jews. As such, they support the settlements. Several of these parties are against the establishment of a Palestinian state and are for the transfer of Palestinians out of much of the occupied (or, more rightly, the disputed) territories. Therefore, they are for the expansion of Israel's borders beyond those of the present fence. This may be a key to what is behind the opposition to the fence of a sizeable percentage of the membership of these parties. The parties officially support the fence, but my guess is that those individuals in these parties who are against the fence are probably against it because it doesn't go far enough, not because it goes too far, and because it is being combined with the dismantling of most of the settlements.

Meretz is a different case, and would fit answer (2), leftists. It is a left-wing party that supports the "peace process" and even accepts a divided Jerusalem, and considers the settlements the main obstacles to peace. My guess is that they feel the wall upsets the Palestinian economy too much, and is a setback to the fabled peace process.

As for answer (3), Arabs, see this:

In the Arab sector, in contrast to the Jewish population, there is wide opposition to the separation fence, the prevalent view being that it will not help reduce terror. Similarly, most believe that in determining the route, great weight should be given to the suffering caused to the Palestinian population and not to security considerations of the government.

So, although exact figures are not given, it appears that the majority of Israeli Arabs are opposed to the fence.

Answers (4) and (5) are difficult to quantify, but my guess is that they represent some unknown but not insignificant portion of Israelis opposed to the fence.

During my research for this post, I found a passage that explains the security fence and the philosophy behind it in a novel way, suggesting that it could more rightly be called a "peace wall." (Perhaps the new nomenclature would make it more attractive to leftists: "All we are saying, is give the peace wall a chance?"):

According to Matti Golan, however, writing in Tel Aviv's financial Globes (Sept. 10, 2003), the security-, separation-, anti-terror fence, however one wants to refer to it, is actually a peace wall. "The fence would be better named the 'security and peace fence.' It should already be obvious that the only chance for a peace agreement with the Palestinians, if there is any chance at all, lies in them being unable to hurt us. So long as they can hurt us, there will be those among them who will try. The harder it becomes for them to kill us, the weaker will be their resistance to an agreement. In other words, the fence will not only enhance security, it will improve the chance for peace....To the Palestinians who claim the fence will harm the peace process, we must tell the truth: The opposite is the case. The fence will only help the Palestinians who truly want peace, by thwarting those who do not want peace."

Hope that answers your question, anonymous.


At 8:16 AM, August 03, 2005, Blogger goesh said...

I try not to meddle in the internal affairs of an ally ( as if I could even if I wanted to). The poll numbers you cite seem to speak for themselves. God forbid if the arabs every truly got the upper hand over the Jews. There would be a holocaust like that of the nazis. Make no mistake of that. But, here I go, meddling. I can't imagine any Israeli really thinking that hamas, hizbullah, etc will ever stop their murderous aggression. I have always been utterly amazed at the restraint IDF has shown over the years. When a homicide bomber would detonate in a bus or ice cream parlor, the practical thing would have been for IDF Air Force to drop a 2000 lb. bomb in an identical environment then paid a cash settlement to the family of the pilot, like saddam hussein did for the families of homicide bombers. So much for meddling. I probably won't convert to Judaism and run for the office of PM. If I did, my campaign slogan would be, "treat animals like animals."

At 12:04 PM, August 03, 2005, Blogger karrde said...

Thanks, neo, for posting this.

I love taking apart an argument "by the numbers", to see whether the argument has any foundation in fact.

And the numbers are pretty clear in this case, with the addendum about those who think that the wall doesn't enclose enough territory.

At 12:27 PM, August 03, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pardon me, I should've said 'Israelis and Jews around the world'. Most supporters of israeli policies are not Jewish because Jews tend to have something of a conscious. It's hard to know what to say when you claim that Israeli Arabs simply do not count, but polls taken within the last year put support for the Fence at 70%. Still a large majority, but not unanimous.

Besides, even if a majority of people support something, does that make it right? Most Americans supported segregation; most Combodians supported Pol Pot at the beggining. Public opinion can be wrong.

Your approach to this issue illustrates the problem with so much of modern debate; there's no room for disagreement. It seems utterly impossible to you that anyone could look at the facts and honestly come to a different conclusion; they must all be evil anti-semites and suicide bombers.

Grow up.

At 12:39 PM, August 03, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Also, why do you think most Israelis support this wall? Because they think it will help them end the occupation. If the Palestinians can't get in, there's no reason to patrol their streets every day. that's why Sharon opposed the fence for so long; it would've meant increased pressure to pull out from the West Bank.

If the fence were honestly one for security, it wouldn't snake around Palestinian communties and take all available land and resources. Attacks went down so dramatically after construction because a cease-fire was declared. As recent events prove, bombers can still get in and wreak havoc.

At 1:01 PM, August 03, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Abu Toameh, an Arab-Israeli journalist, said this about the fence (as reported in a Weekly Standard piece Good Fences Make Good Neighbors):

“. . . the cause of the fence, Abu Toameh was sure, was not a desire on the part of Israeli majorities to rule over the Palestinians. If he were an Israeli Jew in these circumstances, he would favor a fence. Real responsibility for the construction of the fence, he is quite certain, lies with Yasser Arafat and the thoroughly cynical dictatorship he brought to the Palestinian people 10 years ago on the heels of the Oslo Accords.”

At 2:48 PM, August 03, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...


It's a different anonymous. If you check comments on "more about that racist card" you'll see that I have come out of anonymity. By the way, I really liked your post on Hiroshima.

At 5:08 PM, August 03, 2005, Blogger Dreamer said...

I have trouble seeing the big deal about the fence. It improves security and thereby increases peace and economic security. It's a win-win

Besides, the Israelis and Palestinians can always tear the thing down when the times have definatively changed.

At 6:18 PM, August 03, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thomas Friedman wrote an interesting editorial about the fence a couple of years ago, asserting that walls and fences can have a stabilizing effect-- even the Berlin Wall. Considering the Berlin Wall stood for nearly 40 years and there wasn't much of a war in central Europe for those 40 years, there might be something to be said for walls and fences.

At 7:59 PM, August 03, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's no way TO post except to hit the anonymous button.

Yes, the fence (not all of it cement), being built in Israel is a buffer against suicide infiltrators. However, Jews have lived among arabs for thousands of years. It's never been pretty. But business could be accomplished. And, Avram Mitzna wasn't the only Israeli believing, ultimately, after the Arafat's leave the stage; that trade would make everything better.

The Disengagement is a sign that Jews living among arabs didn't change the situation much; once the Six Day War ended. The real failure of the settlements is that is very costly to every Israeli. It's taxpayer's money, ya know? Let alone the nightmare the IDF had to employ, just to bring a settler out of gaza to visit the dentist.

Will things change in the Mideast? One of the best things Arik Sharon has done was to notice the MSM vendetta wasn't just against him. And, the Laborite's hold on government also diminished. From this experience, for the past two years, the Israeli Prime Minister has lessened the terror. It's much safer in Tel Aviv, these days, than London, ya know? And, he's also dimished the harms that were coming out of the leftist press, GLOBALLY. Israel really does want trading partners. And, that's one of the reasons Europe's in the equation, when the Prime Minister saw the opportunities available by disengaging from a radicalized group of arabs. What's next? I dunno. But I don't think the Jews will be jumping into the sea, anytime soon. CAROL HERMAN

At 9:17 PM, August 03, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To CAROL HERMAN (aka anonymous) and all the other anonymous ones: there are three ways to post a comment. One is to register on blogger, another is to post as "anonymous," and the third is to click on "other." As "other," you can simply fill in any name you choose. It's quite simple and straightforward.

See this for a tutorial, if needed.

At 12:19 AM, August 04, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Israel is under constant threat of terror, so to me the fence seems such a benign, simple & practical step to take, yet to listen to Amnesty International & read lefty organs like Guardian Unlimited one would think Israel was the devil incarnate for doing so. Israeli national security cant be dependent on whether every last person in Israel approves of each step taken because nothing would ever get done if it did.

At 4:15 AM, August 04, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In all honesty, I sincerely doubt that there will ever be real peace between Arabs and Jews. A peace fence will not insure peace with so much hate in people's hearts. And let's face it the Arabs cannot face the fact that Israel exists-it hurts their pride to think that so few Jews could stand up to them for so long !

At 6:17 AM, August 04, 2005, Blogger goesh said...

Al qur'an is clear about the Jews and you are right, Paul, it must gall the arabs to no end to have been repeatedly defeated by little Israel. With all their Soviet armament and superior numbers, they could not win, time and again. All those Soviet T-55 tanks that came at Israel weren't made in Cairo or Damascus now were they? It draws a real smirk on my face when Jew haters harp and whine about US aid to Israel while like bigoted fools they refuse to acknowledge the military aid the old USSR provided to arabs. It galls the non-arab jew haters as well that such a tiny nation of Jews exists and prospers and cannot be defeated by arab forces. I've said it before and I'll say it again. While the Israelis were putting a man in outer space, the arab neighbors were engaging in honor killings. That pretty much sums it up. Israel is the only real democracy in the ME and the only true friend the US has there.

At 2:55 PM, August 04, 2005, Blogger Barba Roja said...

While anonymous here seems to have a shaky grasp of details (and spelling), the responses he/she has been getting do betray a rather totalitarian mindset among Neo-neocon and her supporters.

At 7:18 PM, August 04, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Got it.

The right of Israel to exist is a crime?

At 6:44 AM, August 05, 2005, Blogger Barba Roja said...

*sigh* that wasn't remotely what I was talking about, but what do you care? You only hear what you want to hear, and everything else is simply wished away. The people who post at this blog are at least as dogmatic as the old Communist Party ever was.

At 4:15 PM, August 08, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I missed the totalitarian part, as well.

Please tell me exactly where the spinach is stuck between my teeth. :)


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