Ben Levitas
Ben Levitas

Of walls and refugees

Well, hallelujah! Turkey has started to build a wall along its border with Syria. Guess what, most of the wall is 2m tall and in some stretches will be over 2.5m high.
The first part of the wall will extend for over 900km. Walls separate people and break up families. Walls cut people off from each other and their fields. This wall will split vulnerable refugees from their kith and kin across the border. This wall will divide Turkish Kurds from Iraqi and Syrian Kurds.

See these factual inaccuracies regarding the length of wall and reasons its being built.

Haven’t we heard all this before about the security fence that Israel built to stop attacks on its civilians. Yes, indeed and that one has been dubbed an Apartheid Wall, by Israel’s antagonists. So why should this wall, which is longer and higher not be painted with the same brush. Is it okay to separate Muslims from Muslims, but not Muslims from Jews?

Surely if it is permissible for Turkey to prevent terrorists from penetrating into its territory, the same rules should apply to Israel? Surely a wall is a wall, irrespective of where it is built.

In 2003, while Israel was building its wall, there was an international outcry. No one expressed any concern while suicide bombers entered Israel at will and blew up thousands of civilians. In November 2003, Pope John Paul II criticised Israel’s building of a wall to keep Palestinians out, and he called for a global movement against terrorism following deadly attacks in Iraq and Turkey.

At a Sunday blessing on November 16th 2003, the Pope said: “In reality, the Holy Land does not need walls but bridges. Without reconciliation of souls, there can be no peace … The construction of a wall between the Israeli and Palestinian people is seen by many as a new obstacle on the road to peaceful coexistence.”

Surely Israel’s detractors will need to acknowledge that the Pope’s words apply fittingly to the Turkish wall as well.

Is it not ironic, that Turkey who so arrogantly led an illegal flotilla to breach and deliberately challenge Israel’s blockade of Gaza, is now falling prey to its own venom? Turkey was shrill and defiant in its assault on Israel. Turkey is now being hoisted by its own petard and is culpable of the very same actions it so vociferously accused Israel of.

Remember how Turkey reacted with brute force against its own citizens when they protested in Gezi Park and elsewhere? Remember how Turkey invaded Cyprus twice during 1974 and is still occupying 40% of the island? Remember how the Greek majority that were living in Turkish-occupied Cyprus, were forced to flee? Recall that a week ago, the Turkish parliament voted to extend by a year a mandate authorising a military deployment to Syria if needed.

I await with anticipation an outcry from the multitudes of human rights activists who find walls so cantankerous.

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