It's not all that often that I come across a newspaper article that truly stuns me. Yoel Esteron's "Let's dismantle the fence" in Haaretz today provoked that precise reaction however. To my understanding the basic argument behind the piece is that, by accepting the fence, we won't move forward to finding a solution to the problem underlying the need for the fence.
"Life without a fence was terrible, but at least it created a sense of urgency; that we have to do something to stop the killing; to solve the conflict; to make peace. The fence creates an illusion that we can "manage" the conflict instead of resolving it, another dubious invention of recent years."
Bizarre as it may seem, Esteron's argument appears to be that men, women and children being blown up by suicide bombers on a daily basis can actually be seen as a good thing in that it creates an urgency to find a solution.
Building a fence, which seems to be doing a good job of keeping those with murderous intent out of Israel's cafes, discotheques, and hotels will, he argues, lead to "more and more terror that circumvents the fence; the longer the occupation continues, the more horrible the terror. The fence will not stop it for long, it will only make it more sophisticated and more terrible." Indeed - if you put a barrier up, there are those who will attempt to get around, under or over it. Judging by the example of the fence around Gaza however, this is not a simple matter.
Esteron's views appear, to my mind to exhibit a very tenuous grasp on reality. For close to 4 years now , Arafat and his cohorts have been waging a vicious war against Israel. All but the most dovish amongst the country's politicians and electorate, have had their eyes opened to the true intentions of our erstwhile peace partners. There is a reason why the fence is part of the consensus; why the Politicans, IDF and Supreme Court all agree that it is, if not a good thing, then certainly a necessary evil.
To espouse the view that "Anyone who wants to live without terror, to live in peace, has to oppose the fence." is to fly in the face of common sense, to turn a blind eye to the murderous intent of the Palestinians. So let's spell it out in very simple language for Mr. Esteron: the fence stops the Palestinians from walking into our population centres and blowing themselves up. Knocking the fence down in the current political climate will lead to more Israelis being murdered. I dearly hope that there will come a time when the fence will be removed. That can't happen however until the Palestinian "leadership" begins to take responsibility for leading their people towards the light instead of further into the darkness.