Israel’s Fence and the Return to the Barbaric Past

by | May 27, 2003 | Middle East & Israel, POLITICS

Israel’s proposed border fence, a necessary physical separation between a lawful nation and its homicidal neighbors, is a powerful symbol of the political gulf separating the West from the Arab world. When Israel was founded, its inhabitants established the only government under law in the Middle East. The models for this nation were the constitutional […]

Israel’s proposed border fence, a necessary physical separation between a lawful nation and its homicidal neighbors, is a powerful symbol of the political gulf separating the West from the Arab world.

When Israel was founded, its inhabitants established the only government under law in the Middle East. The models for this nation were the constitutional republics of the west.

Israel’s neighbors declared war on that nation, choosing tribal slaughter over rational governments for themselves. Their models were either the KGB, or medieval Islamic theocracies–each a variant form of thugocracy.

While Israel rejected the barbarism of her own ancient past–a time when the tribes of Israel fought incessantly, Joshua destroyed Jericho in the name of God, and David smote Saul and took power–her neighbors remained rooted in that past.

While Israel enshrined orderly government, with open elections, a lawful succession of officials, and an independent judiciary, her neighbors chose the ranting of dictators and the dreams of jihad.

While Israel had a series of leaders, each subject to electoral, constitutional and judicial review, her Palestinian neighbor had one ruler, who bullies rivals into submission and screams for martyrdom.

Israel built her fence only reluctantly, after years of attacks on her cities. She finally accepted the need to defend herself in the way of all cities in the primitive past: by building siege walls.

Think of the implications of this on a global scale. America has a 3000 mile undefended border with Canada. In the primitive past, such a border was impossible; cities had no choice but to build walls, in order to keep rapacious thugs at bay. Now America must defend this border, not to keep out the Canadians, but to stop Islamic militants from killing Americans.

Israel now needs her fence, and America her border defenses, because each has failed to eliminate the neo-barbarian threats rising throughout the world. By failing to confront the ideology of thuggery squarely–by rather adapting to the defensive methods of the pre-Enlightenment past–America and Israel, and indeed every nation in the world, has accepted primitive warlords as a fact of modern life.

But this cannot last. Every ancient walled fortress eventually fell, since a good defense could at best hold off invaders for a while. Permanent peace can be achieved only when the enemies of freedom are destroyed through a vigorous offense.

Until America affirms its own right to exist by striking the heart of her enemies–and encouraging Israel to do the same–we will all be forced to live behind defensive walls. The thugs will have won; the world will be shaped in their image.

Israel’s fence magnifies the contrast between an enlightened government of individual rights, and a dictatorship that lives for destruction. Until the rule of law replaces the rule of thugs–until Israel and America root out those committed to destroy civilization everywhere–Israel’s need for a fence will stand as a testament to how a modern nation can be held hostage by the emissaries from a primitive past.

John David Lewis (website) is a Visiting Professor of Political Science, Duke University. He has been a Senior Research Scholar in History and Classics at the Social Philosophy and Policy Center, and an Anthem Fellow.

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