People defy the walls

June 6, 2011
Sarah Benton
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electronic intifada
A State which demands the right to protect its borders must define where the border is

Uri Avnery

Following the events on the Syrian border, Gush Shalom activist and former Knesset member Uri Avnery said: “Today the army inflicted disproportionate violence on unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in the Golan Heights, more than what is required to protect the border, leading to unnecessary bloodshed. The trigger-happy approach is particularly striking in light of the contrast with the softness towards violent settlers who just three days ago attacked the police in broad daylight, hurling Molotov cocktails and burning the police chief’s car. Then, the army and police knew how to end a most serious incident without bloodshed – but this time the intention was from the start deterrence at the expense of taking lives. Prime Minister Netanyahu had hinted at it explicitly.”
Regarding the issue of border protection Avnery added: “The state may protect its borders and prevent illegal entering into its territory. This is an essential part of sovereignty. However, to effectively defend its borders, the state first needs to know itself where its borders are, and get them the recognition of the international community – a decision the state of Israel refrained from taking for decades.
“A country which is trespassing on its neighbor’s territory, taking the land and building more and more settlements has a hard case justifying the actions needed to protect Israel’s own borders. Contrary to the words of Prime Minister Netanyahu, only an agreed upon recognized international border – that is, a border based on the 1967 lines – is really a defensible border.”

If Arabs were Germans and Israel’s frontiers were the Berlin Wall

Ali Abunimah 05.06.2011

This video shows confrontations that took place on 5 June on the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights as thousands of people marched from the Syrian-controlled side toward the fortified Israeli-controlled line. Watch carefully.
The images are shot from the perspective of Syrian residents of the town of Majdal Shams who have lived under Israeli occupation since 1967.
Some of the Golan residents are throwing stones at Israeli forces along the frontier. But the Israeli forces have their backs to the Golan residents because the Israelis are firing tear gas (and possibly live ammunition) at marchers on the Syrian side.
As Israel and its apologists describe these events, Israel is “defending itself” against “infiltrators.” Media reports citing Syrian sources say that up to 20 people may have been killed and dozens more injured by Israeli fire. Videos posted earlier show Israelis firing and marchers evacuating wounded people.
But what this video clearly shows is ordinary people challenging the violent and illegal division of their homeland. The people are united on both sides of the line. It is the Israeli line that separates them. The Israelis are the infiltrators.
For decades the people of the Golan Heights have steadfastly maintained their family and community connections. Famously they would gather on hilltops and deliver news to each other across the frontier via megaphone.
The 2004 film The Syrian Bride by Eran Riklis (starring Hiam Abbass, Makram Khoury and Clara Khoury) dramatizes this situation:
In Majdal Shams, the largest Druze village in Golan Heights on the Israeli-Syrian border, the Druze bride Mona is engaged to get married with Tallel, a television comedian who works in the Revolution Studios in Damascus, Syria. They have never met each other because of the occupation of the area by Israel since 1967; when Mona moves to Syria, she will lose her undefined nationality and will never be allowed to return home. Mona’s father Hammed is a political activist pro-Syria that is on probation by the Israeli government. His older son Hatten married a Russian woman eight years ago and was banished from Majdal Shams by the religious leaders and his father. His brother Marwan is a wolf trader that lives in Italy. His sister Amal has two teenager daughters and has the intention to join the university, but her marriage with Amin is in crisis. When the family gathers for Mona’s wedding, an insane bureaucracy jeopardizes the ceremony.
The divided condition of Syrians – as well as Palestinians of course – is not unlike that of Germans or Berliners divided between West and East from 1945 to 1990. It is the brutal intervention of a forced partition that victimizes them. I see the Syrians of the Golan and the Palestinians marching to the frontiers of their country in the same light as the people who tore down the Berlin Wall.
That is not of course how they are presented by Israel and its apologists in the Western media who rarely question Israel’s description of them as faceless and dangerous “infiltrators” coming to violate Israel’s “sovereignty.”

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