Where Are the Other Replica Security Walls?
An Anglican church together with some would-be 'fashionable yet politically aware' types, unveiled an installation in London's city center last week, a mock-up of the walled part of Israel's security barrier -- and invited members of the public to write what the organizers presumably anticipated would be anti-'Zionist', anti-Israel graffiti on it. The wall is the main attraction of the church's ideologically poisoned Christmastime festival "Bethlehem Unwrapped," which runs until January 5, 2014.
One of the commenters under Robin Shepherd's piece in The Commentator on Thursday suggests posting 'pictures of Israeli victims of terror on the wall at St James's Church with a placard saying "These lives would have been saved had the security barrier been in place."'
Anyone who travels to see this exercise might also like to take along the information below: a lengthy (though probably incomplete) list of security walls, barriers, and fences around the world, most of them maintained to prevent terrorism, amongst other rampant evils, yet none of them obsessively given attention by media outlets and by celebrity demagogues like Jeremy Hardy and Mark Steel.
There appear to be no replicas in London of these 50+ other walls or barriers, which nevertheless, according to St. James's Church website '...divide and confine peoples, restricting free movement and dominating the imagination of those who live behind them.' (The remainder of the paragraph sounds like a parody of Roger Waters himself: 'We believe that bridges not walls are the only lasting foundation for peace. ...We join with people of all faiths in praying for the day when the Wall will come down.')
Saudi Arabia, for example, is almost entirely walled in (all seven of its land borders and two of its three coastlines) and nobody bats an eyelid. The Channel Tunnel between the United Kingdom and France incorporates a range of security measures that includes surveillance, electrified fencing, and a permanent military presence on its French site, in order to root out potential terrorists, smugglers, and illegal immigrants; no-one is suggesting that such measures are anything apart from plain common sense.
Common sense evidently is in short supply, however, when it comes to the New Age socialists in charge of St. James's Church. One can add further illustration of the point simply by quoting various passages from the recent output of the Church's rector, Lucy Winkett:
Occupation is coercive, usually weaponised, territorial, economically demanding in terms of taxation and, importantly, imposed. The terms of occupation under which Jesus lived have been familiar to generations of people who have lived in countless militarised societies, including those who live in Bethlehem and Galilee today.
We [Christians] approach, we dare to invite the transgressive, unarmed, poetic spirit that we celebrated at Pentecost, knowing that our own capacity for land grabs is persistent and strong. When we are the occupiers, we are armed, we are under authority, we are concerned with restoring and maintaining order. But we know we are in lands that are not ours.
Christianity is not only about personal spiritual reflection on the inner occupation that we might live under; it is political. But neither is it an imposable blueprint for a political state.
Challenging a political reality, such as the Wall that imprisons the inhabitants of Bethlehem, or advocating justice for Palestinians suffering terrible indignities in a militarised society is not of itself part of the history [of Christian anti-Semitism] expounded in this article. Vigilance about individual motivation is always necessary, but fear of being labelled anti-Semitic by others often keeps Christians silent on this contemporary political issue.
The European Union, which, like Winkett and St. James's Church, falsely asserts that there is legally and/or in practice an occupation by the state of Israel of territory belonging to another party -- actively supports three disputed occupations that involve militarized walls/barriers (the Turkish occupation of Northern Cyprus, the Spanish occupation of Ceuta and Melilla, North Africa, and the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara); as well as the disputed Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus; and illegal Arab expansion in Oslo Area 'C' of the Judea and Samaria regions of Israel (EU 'intervention' strategy and funding documents here and here).
The EU has been the main funder of the construction and reinforcement of the Ceuta and Melilla barriers, which primarily are designed to prevent illegal immigration from the Moroccan mainland into these pene-exclaves dating from the Spanish and Portuguese colonial era. At the same time, it hypocritically buys a narrative that accuses the Jewish democratic state of being a nefarious example of modern-day imperialism; while in any case Palestine (now Israel) was in fact conceived of as, and has become (although imperfectly, and despite the best efforts of many), just two things, neither of them in any sense 'imperialist': a haven for Jewish refugees, and a source of opportunities for advancement and enrichment benefiting regional, non-Jewish communities -- both inside and outside its borders.
Here, then, is an instructive question: why is there no art installation decrying the EU's 'apartheid' security barriers on the Spain-Morocco border? What about the human rights of impoverished Moroccan and sub-Saharan African illegals, who surely deserve a temporary monument in a major capital city (and an accompanying festival) at least as much as jihadis determined to infiltrate Israel and murder innocent men, women and children, deserve one? Perhaps such a project will be next on the agenda for the baleful coterie of trendy British priests and fading, 'socially conscious' media figures currently assembled at St. James's Church.
A list of security walls, barriers and fences around the world
2. Santa Marta (Botafogo neighbourhood, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
3. Russia-Chechnya *
8. Russia-North Korea
11. Loyalist-Republican areas of Northern Ireland (UK) *
12. Channel Tunnel (UK-France)
13. Via Anelli quarter (Padua, Italy)
14. Spain-Morocco *
15. Turkey-Cyprus *
17. Morocco-Western Sahara *
19. South Africa-Zimbabwe
20. South Africa-Mozambique
21. Egypt-Gaza strip
22. Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt)
23. Saudi Arabia-Iraq
24. Kuwait-Iraq *
25. Saudi Arabia-Kuwait
26. Saudi Arabia-Qatar
27. Saudi Arabia-Jordan
28. Saudi Arabia-Yemen *
29. Saudi Arabia-Oman *
30. Saudi Arabia-UAE *
31. Saudi Arabia-Red Sea
32. Saudi Arabia-Persian Gulf
34. UAE-Oman *
35. Dhofar province (Oman)
38. Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan *
39. Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan *
44. Iran-Pakistan *
45. India-Pakistan *
46. India-Bangladesh *
51. China-North Korea
52. South Korea-North Korea *
(*security barrier(s) located [wholly or partially] in legally disputed space)
John Allan is a Connecticut-based lawyer and occasional op-ed contributor