There is no consistency in any of this. Left-wing academics call for a boycott of Israeli universities, despite the fact that Israeli universities operate a policy that allows entry to all races and religions, do not accept government censorship, encourage open debate, and are not used as centres for Zionist propaganda. They do not seek to boycott Arab universities that forbid entry to Jews, or Iranian universities that are closed to the Baha'is, the country's largest religious minority, Egyptian universities that are (according to a report by Human Rights Watch) drowning in censorship, Muslim universities in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere where the very idea of open debate is anathema, Chinese universities that control what students can and cannot learn and what teachers can and cannot teach, or any of the genuine human rights abuses affecting higher education worldwide. Only Israel. Only Israeli institutions. Only Israeli academics who refuse to condemn their own country.
Israel has an internationally-criticized security fence. It was built for one purpose only: to reduce or eliminate incursions into Israel by Palestinian terrorists, including suicide/homicide bombers. In that respect, it has been eminently successful, cutting attacks by 80 percent and more where it has been built. Even the Palestinians admit that it now forms a virtually insuperable barrier to their murder operations. In an interview with Hizbullah's al-Manar TV channel (15/11/06), Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shalah stated that the Palestinian terror organizations had every intention of continuing their suicide missions, but that there were factors that interfered with this. 'For example,' he explained, 'there is the separation fence, which is an obstacle to the resistance, and if it were not there the situation would be entirely different'. In other words, the fence saves lives. Why any liberal would want to see it torn down is quite beyond me.
But there's another aspect to this fence issue. This is that — whatever the media might want you to believe — it's not the only security barrier in the world. I don't know exactly how many there are, but the first one I ever became aware of was in my home town of Belfast, where the 'peace wall' kept Protestants and Catholics apart (and, asd far as I know, still does in places). Another is the concrete and barbed wire barrier being built by the Chinese government along part of its border with North Korea. Then there's the extensive fence being built by India to keep out terrorists operating from Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, and which will eventually stretch to several hundred killometres. Closer to Israel, the Saudis are building a 550-mile fence to shut their border with Iraq. This will consist of a barbed-wire topped fence, backed by barbed-wire pyramids, sand berms, underground movement sensors, command posts, sniffer-dog patrols, and all manner of other surveillance techniques. At 550 miles, it will be considerably longer than the 73-mile Hadrian's Wall a couple of miles from where I'm writing. And, if any American liberals should be reading this, do please note that your government is about to start work on an even longer (700-mile) barrier along the Mexican border, not to stop terrorists, but to prevent illegal immigrants getting into US territory. An earlier barrier built in the 1990s near San Diego is a ten-foot high wall of welded steel.
Yet one fence and one fence alone figures in news stories, on banners of protest, in political speeches. One fence and that one fence only is forever on the lips of liberals, not in praise of its life-saving properties, but in condemnation of its very existence. A fence designed to save the lives of innocents has become an 'Apartheid Wall', an affront to civilization, a symbol of oppression and racism. Why? Given so many fences (and those I have listed are by no means the only ones), why does the one fence that has shown itself capable of keeping terrorists away from schools and cafés and shopping malls come in for this disproportionate criticism? Why would liberals be so discriminatory? Is it not racist to say that, of all peoples in the world, the Jews have no right to defend their lives and homes? It's fine for Indians, it's fine for the Chinese, it's fine for the Saudi Arabs, it's fine for the Northern Irish, it's fine for the Americans to build their fences, but not for the Israelis? Now, I don't doubt that many liberals may find some fault in those other barriers; but they never say so. They never take to the streets waving placards denouncing those fences. Just the one in Israel. They call the other barriers fences, but the one in Israel a wall. If you can't see that this is ugly, racist, discriminatory, and offensive, I must ask just what sort of liberal you take yourself to be.
In the same way the fence is singled out, so the very state of Israel is singled out. As a liberal, I don't doubt that you support the whole post-colonial enterprise, whereby peoples round the world have asserted their independence, created autonomous states, and now govern themselves, some well, some badly. We Irish know this better than anyone, for we were the first people in the world to throw off the yoke of imperialism. We started our battle for independence a couple of centuries before anyone else. So I sympathize with all people who seek to create viable states for themselves. It is, indeed, a matter of honour for liberals and left-wingers to speak out on behalf of all legitimate nationalist aspirations.
But it seems that sympathy for nationalist aspirations ends when it comes to the Jews. Only the Jews, it seems, have no right to build a nation state on their ancestral and religious homeland. Only the Jews are to be condemned to wander the earth for ever, persecuted, driven from land to land as the mood takes one territory or another. Hooray for the IRA and their bold struggle for a united Ireland, hooray for ETA and the claims of the Basques, hooray for the Tamil Tigers and the Tamil people, above all, hooray for Hamas and Hizbullah and their noble endeavours to take back all the lands that ever belonged to them, historically or mythically, it doesn't matter which. But to oblivion with the Jews for even daring to create a national home where they might be safe from persecution. Let's march with banners that say 'We're all Hizbullah now', condemning Zionism as the greatest evil that ever walked the earth.
So everyone is allowed to have a state except the Jews. If you will take care to read their literature, you will see that the Palestinians do not just want a state of their own. They want the Jews out. Every last one of them, from every inch of Israel. If the Jews won't leave, they will kill them. They will leave no trace of them, their synagogues, their kibbutzim, their hopes, their aspirations, their love for their Holy Land. And all those people-supporting left-wingers and liberals out there shake hands with that aspiration, saying Israel has no right to exist, denouncing the very idea of Zionism as fascist and evil, endorsing the idea that the Jews are behind every conspiracy, that Zionists control the media, tell the US how to frame its foreign policy, and are the masterminds behind the global economy.
If you think that, or half of that, or a quarter, let me explain something to you, very calmly, very quietly, and in short words. You may think you are a liberal, but you are not. You may think you are an internationalist, but you are not. You may think you are a socialist, but you are not. You are an anti-Semite. Think it through. How much of your anti-Israel rhetoric would Adolf Hitler have found hard to stomach? How would the notion that Jews alone of all the earth's peoples have no right to govern themselves or to protect themselves from those who seek to kill them run in the far reaches of the far right? How would the Palestinian aspiration to commit a second Holocaust play in the degenerate middens of totalitarian fascism?