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And So It Begins Fortress

January 30th, 2002 - 10:44 am

And So It Begins
Fortress Israel is one step closer to being… something. Maybe a big mistake. The Independent UK reports that PM Sharon has approved a plan to seal off Jerusalem in its entirety to outsiders, IE, Palestinians. Anyone who knows anything can tell you that if you defend everything everywhere at once, you defend nothing.

But what other choice do they have? Even if they kill Arafat and destroy the PA, the Israelis are still vulnerable. Everywhere. So until the Palestinians are ready for peace — and that’s at least a generation from now — the Israelis only have two real options, both unpalatable.

The first is the total expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank. That’s the uberrightwing option — the restoration of “Judea and Sumaria” to Israel proper. But the global outrage would be intolerable. Hell, even we couldn’t back a move like that, not even after 9/11. Israel would become a pariah state locked so far out of world commerce as to make 1989 South Africa look coddled. And the increasingly high tech Israeli economy just can’t afford that.

The second option is called “Retreat and build a wall.” Abandon the undefendable settlements, keep the strategic bits of the West Bank, and literally build a wall around the remainder. Far-fetched? Barely. It looks like they’re ready to do that for Jerusalem — which means they’re one disco-bombing away from walling off the rest.

And then Palestine can say goodbye to any hopes for peace (if they harbor any hopes of that), and also any hopes for anything other than grinding povery.

PS I’d be writing about the State of the Union speech today, but: A) everyone else is, and; B) that’s yesterday’s news, damnit!