Stanford University to show Turkish blood libel film (& Saudi Prince to build hotel in Tel Aviv)

February 19, 2007

* Suspect named in Elie Wiesel attack
* Eyal Sivan loses “Jewish anti-Semite” case
* New “Jews for Boycott of Israel Goods” group set up in Britain
* Rabbi Michael Lerner: American government “may have been behind 9/11 attacks”

 

CONTENTS

1. A “Jewish anti-Semite”
2. “I’m being crucified!”
3. A delusional American Rabbi
4. Stanford University to show Turkish blood libel film
5. Qaradawi to attend conference as “no Israelis will be present”
6. Anti-Israel protestors attempt to block flowers for Valentine’s Day
7. Knesset event honoring Druze and Circassian communities
8. Israeli Professor rebukes Irish scholars on academic boycott
9. Doron Almog’s son passes away
10. Tel Aviv markets reach record high
11. Saudi Prince to build hotel in Tel Aviv
12. Syrian group claims they are holding missing Israeli soldier Guy Hever
13. Israel successfully test fires Arrow missile
14. Suspect named in Elie Wiesel attack
15. Zundel gets maximum term for Holocaust denial; Papon dies
16. “The Arabs know the truth, but this doesn’t change a thing”
17. “Truth and punishment” (Yediot Ahronot, Feb. 12, 2007)
18. “Why walls are going up all over the world?” (Arab News, Feb. 18, 2007)



[Note by Tom Gross]

A “JEWISH ANTI-SEMITE”

The first part of this dispatch is a follow-up to last week’s “Israeli Apartheid week” dispatch. That dispatch was widely quoted around the world, both in newspapers (for example, in this editorial in the Jerusalem Post) and on weblogs (for example, that of Times of London columnist Stephen Pollard and that of Times cultural critic Clive Davis.) I would also like to thank former (London) Daily Telegraph editor, Charles Moore, for his kind reference to this email list and website in this week’s Spectator magazine.

Readers have also pointed out further remarks made by some of the anti-Israeli Israeli academics cited in last week’s dispatch. Yitzhak Laor, the Israeli journalist and poet speaking at “Israeli Apartheid Week,” last year branded the Israeli army “terrorists” in an article for The London Review of Books (another publication edited and published by an anti-Israeli Jew). At the same time Laor referred to Arab terrorists as “partisans”.

Paris-based Israeli filmmaker Eyal Sivan (also referred to in last week’s dispatch) has lost a court case in France. He had sued leading French intellectual Alain Finkielkraut who accused Sivan of being a “Jewish anti-Semite”. The court dismissed Sivan’s case against Finkielkraut.

“I’M BEING CRUCIFIED!”

Meanwhile, Bar-Ilan University (near Tel Aviv) has issued an official statement distancing itself from its Professor Ariel Toaff’s “research” on blood libels.

While Bar-Ilan University “champions freedom of academic and scientific expression as the basis for its research activity,” it said, we “express our strongest reservations regarding Prof. Toaff’s latest research regarding blood libels against European Jews in the Middle Ages. Bar-Ilan University its officers and researchers have condemned, and condemn, any attempt to justify the awful blood libels against Jews.”

“As of yet, there has been no contact with Prof. Toaff, who is traveling abroad. Immediately upon his return to the country in the coming days, Bar-Ilan University President Prof. Moshe Kaveh will summon Prof. Toaff and ask from him explanations regarding his research.”

In a new book published in Italy, Toaff has bizarrely claimed that medieval anti-Semitic blood libels were true. Toaff has been widely criticized by European Jewish leaders, and some have accused Toaff of promoting anti-Semitism. In response, Toaff told Ha’aretz: “I will not give up my devotion to academic freedom even if the world crucifies me.”

A DELUSIONAL AMERICAN RABBI

It is not just academics who have started to express empathy with conspiracy theorists and hatemongerers. Some delusional left-wing rabbis have too. The weekly Forward newspaper reports that Rabbi Michael Lerner, the American activist and editor of Tikkun magazine, has published an essay saying he is open to the possibility that the American government may have been behind the September 11 terrorist attacks.

“I would not be surprised to learn that some branch of our government conspired either actively to promote or passively to allow the attack on 9/11,” Lerner has written in an essay published in the new book, “9/11 and American Empire: Christians, Jews, and Muslims Speak Out.”

“I am agnostic on the question of what happened on 9/11,” the Berkeley, California-based rabbi wrote in his essay for the book, which includes articles by other more openly conspiracy-mongering contributors.

Lerner, the founder of the newly formed Network of Spiritual Progressives, gained national attention in the U.S. in the 1990s after a meeting with then-first lady Hillary Clinton, during which they discussed his ideas about the need for a new “politics of meaning.” Since then, he has emerged as a leader of efforts to reconcile left-wing politics and religious belief, calling for a “Spiritual Covenant” to transform America.

The book in which Lerner’s essay appears is billed as having been “inspired by” David Ray Griffin’s “The New Pearl Harbor,” a seminal text of the so-called “9/11 Truth” movement.

Lerner told the Forward that he has good reason to be suspicious of the government. “I’ve had a lot of personal experience of government lying and doing things that are very destructive and pretending that they weren’t doing it.” Lerner added that he thought the American government may have had some hand in 9/11, not the Israeli one.

STANFORD UNIVERSITY TO SHOW TURKISH BLOOD LIBEL FILM

Stanford University, also in California, is to show the virulently anti-Semitic and anti-American Turkish film, Valley of the Wolves.

Valley of the Wolves, made a year ago, is the most expensive movie ever made in Turkey. In the film, American soldiers in Iraq crash a wedding and pump a little boy full of lead in front of his mother. They kill dozens of innocent people with random machine gun-fire, shoot the groom in the head, and drag those left alive to prison, where a Jewish doctor cuts out their organs, and sells them to rich clients in New York, London and Tel Aviv.

It has been billed at Stanford as “the action movie you were not meant to see” and its showing “a service to the Stanford academic community at large.”

Stanford University students are urged “to see this important film for yourself. Non-stop screen action, intellectual stimulation, and real political controversy in one program! This is an event not to be missed.” For more see here.

* For more information on Valley of the Wolves, see my article “To be or not to be”.

* For more on Stanford University, see the first note in the dispatch David Irving: Auschwitz “was a tourist attraction” (& British Muslims scrap Holocaust Day) (Jan. 31, 2007).

QARADAWI TO ATTEND CONFERENCE AS “NO ISRAELIS WILL BE PRESENT”

Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the nearest thing Sunni Islam has to a pope, agreed to participate in the ongoing U.S.-Islamic World Forum currently taking place in Doha on 18-20 February, having first clarified that no Israelis will attend. This forum is a joint project of the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Saban Center at Brookings.

On his website (www.qaradawi.net) Qaradawi announced in Arabic that he would “participate in the America Forum [The U.S.-Islamic World forum], after it was verified that no Israelis will be present.” His announcement can be read here.

It is unclear whether Haim Saban, who funds the Saban Center and is an Israeli, will be attending. The forum aims to explore over three days, ways to improve U.S.-Islamic relations.

The website Qaradawi.net conveys Qaradawi’s Islamic views. The site is one of the most popular Islamic websites on the net. Qaradawi is a preacher best known for his al-Jazeera program “ash-Shariah wal Hayat” (“Shariah and life”) and Islam Online a website he helped found in 1997. His fatwas, or religious edicts on matters personal or political, are widely considered definitive among Sunnis. Among his most infamous fatwas was one encouraging Palestinians to carry out suicide bombings.

Qaradawi spoke yesterday, at the opening of the conference, on “five factors that block America from negotiating with the Muslim world.” According to him they are “injustice, transcendence, ignorance, greed and malignity.”

Haim Saban is a television and media mogul, ranked by Forbes as the 98th richest person in America. Saban and his family were forced to flee Egypt in 1956, he moved to Israel and then the United States. In the U.S. he is best known for his adaptation of the popular Power Rangers TV programme for children. It was noted in a recent dispatch that Saban, who has donated at least $13 million to U.S. politicians, now tops the list of donors to political campaigns in America.

ANTI-ISRAEL PROTESTORS ATTEMPT TO BLOCK FLOWERS FOR VALENTINE’S DAY

To coincide with the high-volume sales of Israeli flowers in Britain on Valentine’s Day, three anti-Israel protesters last week chained themselves to a fence outside the distribution site of Carmel-Agrexco in Middlesex, near London. Police arrested them. Some 90 other demonstrators blocked trucks from leaving Carmel-Agrexco’s distribution site. (Most of the trucks actually carried Coral strawberries grown by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.)

The protest was launched by the UK-based Boycott Israeli Goods (BIG) Campaign who waged a five-day campaign against the sale of Israeli flowers.

The campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, the demonstrators did not succeed in causing any disruptions and all consignments reached their destinations safely. The boycott group says they will continue to lobby supermarkets not to sell Israeli flowers.

A new Jewish group has emerged to support BIG. Deborah Fink, a member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP), has set up Jews for Boycott of Israel Goods (J-BIG). Fink told the Jerusalem Post, “I wanted to do more on the boycott and wanted JfJfP to do it but couldn’t push them into doing it so in the end I started my own group and agreed last month to join up with BIG. I have about 30 signatories, which I know sounds small, but we have only just started.”

Last November, JfJfP disassociated the group from comments Fink made on an anti-Zionist blog in which she said: “Israel does not deserve to be called ‘the Jewish state.’ It should be called ‘the Satanic state.’ I really don’t see the point of doing anything else other than boycott it in every possible way.”

KNESSET EVENT HONORING DRUZE AND CIRCASSIAN COMMUNITIES

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert attended a special event at the Knesset (Israeli parliament) in honor of Israel’s Druze and Circassian communities. At the event, a special Knesset lobby for the integration of the Druze and Circassian communities into Israeli society was established.

Olmert promised the communities that action would be taken “so that the reality of life for the Druze and Circassian communities reflects their activity and their dedication on behalf of the State of Israel, and so that they will know that they are an inseparable part of us.”

He also congratulated the officers and soldiers of the IDF Druze battalion, which recently received a special Ground Forces Command commendation for their bravery against Hizbullah in south Lebanon last year, and praised the battalion’s “exemplary fighting spirit.”

ISRAELI PROFESSOR REBUKES IRISH SCHOLARS ON ACADEMIC BOYCOTT

Asher Susser, an Israeli professor from Tel Aviv University, has sharply criticized a group of Irish scholars for advocating an academic boycott of Israel.

South African-born Susser, who was on a visit to Ireland said the 61 professors and lecturers who called for a boycott in a letter to the Irish Times unfairly singled out Israel for criticism. “What surprises me is that these academics choose to focus on Israel as the only focus of their criticism of the entire international community,” Susser said.

He added, “I’ve never heard them talking about boycotting Sudan, for example, for committing genocide.” Susser also rejected the charge that Israel is an “apartheid state”, calling comparisons to South Africa “ignorant, propagandistic or both.”

DORON ALMOG’S SON PASSES AWAY

In September 2005, Doron Almog, a retired Israeli soldier, declined to disembark a plane at London’s Heathrow airport after learning a warrant had been issued for his arrest in Britain as a result of his time commanding troops in Gaza. Almog was due to give a fundraising talk in Britain for the Aleh Negev Rehabilitation Village that helps both Israeli Jews and Arabs with severe mental and physical disabilities. (For more, see Islamic militant Hizb ut-Tahrir infiltrates Reuters (& Prince Harry apologizes), Sept. 15, 2005.)

Almog’s own son who was mentally disabled, has now died. Eran Almog, 23, who suffered from sever autism, lost his battle with Castleman’s syndrome, a rare and fatal disease which strikes the lymph nodes. The Almog family was extremely open about their son’s disability, which helped dispel some of the stigmas associated with autism and retardation in Israeli society.

Meanwhile, during her visit to Israel earlier this month, British Foreign Minister Margaret Becket promised Ehud Olmert that British authorities will enact a similar law to the one now in effect in Belgium, so that people who had served in foreign armies couldn’t be targeted for arrest in the UK. The Belgian law transferred the authority to issue arrest warrants to foreign citizens on accusations of war crimes from the courts to the government, after Belgian anti-Israel activists issued warrants for the arrest of then-prime minister Ariel Sharon.

TEL AVIV MARKETS REACH RECORD HIGH

Trading on the Tel Aviv stock exchange ended on a record high last Wednesday. The TA-100 index, which groups the exchange’s top 100 listed companies, peaked at 1,001.68 points, a growth of 8.68 percent so far this year.

SAUDI PRINCE TO BUILD HOTEL IN TEL AVIV

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is in negotiations to build a hotel on Tel Aviv’s coastline. The planned project is a joint venture with the (Arab-Israeli) Abulafya family, which owns a structure on a plot on Herbert Samuel Street. According to the blueprints submitted to the Tel Aviv Municipality, an eight-story, 150-room hotel is planned for the site.

Bin Talal, the nephew of the late Saudi King Faisal, is believed to be worth $26.4 billion.

Two architects have already started working on the project. One is Bin Talal’s private architect, Basel al-Beiti, who has worked with him on oriental hotels across the world. The other is former Tel Aviv Chief City Engineer, Yisrael Gudovich.

SYRIAN GROUP CLAIMS THEY ARE HOLDING MISSING ISRAELI SOLDIER GUY HEVER

A Syrian group has claimed that they are holding missing Israeli soldier Guy Hever, who disappeared in 1997. The group claims that they “have a Zionist soldier captive.” Israeli officials say they are examining the reports.

A source involved in the Guy Hever affair told the Israeli paper Yediot Ahronot that “The Syrians are known for holding many people in cellars and prisons for no reason, without a trial and with no end in sight. Hundreds of people have spent dozens of years without anyone knowing about them. We are talking about Lebanese, Jordanian, Iraqis and Europeans, as well as Israelis who spend a long time there. The Syrians are failing to provide any information on those being held by them and are not cooperating.”

Hever’s mother said she believed her son had been in Syrian hands for a decade and criticized the Israeli government for seemingly doing nothing about it.

ISRAEL SUCCESSFULLY TEST FIRES ARROW MISSILE

In what is being hailed as an extremely important development for Israel’s defense, the IDF has test fired the anti-ballistic missile Arrow system for the first time during the night. The test was conducted simultaneously in two different fields and was deemed a success. The test took the anti-missile missile to its highest altitude so far, where it intercepted a virtual target. The Arrow is said to be the only defensive missile capable of taking out incoming missiles in the earth’s stratosphere.

The test was considered significant as it was carried out under extreme conditions and showed how the system could hopefully deal with enemy missiles, including those fired from Iran, possibly armed with chemical or nuclear warheads.

The Arrow system has been under development jointly by Israel and the United States for the past 19 years. It is meant to intercept medium and long-range ballistic missiles and is considered the most advanced of its kind in the world. The previous test of the Arrow system was carried out in daylight conditions in Israel in December 2005 and was also successful.

SUSPECT NAMED IN ELIE WIESEL ATTACK

The following note is an update to the dispatch Ilan Halimi brought to rest in Jerusalem (& Elie Wiesel assaulted in a San Francisco hotel) (Feb. 11, 2007).

Police have identified the man they believe attacked Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel at a San Francisco hotel earlier this month and issued an arrest warrant for him. He has been named as Eric Hunt, 22. San Francisco police say that they intend to charge Hunt with “kidnapping, false imprisonment, elder abuse, stalking, battery and committing a hate crime.”

In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Wiesel, 78, said the incident made him fear for his life and left him shaken. It is essential to find who the perpetrator was and whether he acted alone or as part of a group, Wiesel said. Wiesel is a survivor of the Auschwitz and Buchenwald Nazi death camps. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.

ZUNDEL GETS MAXIMUM TERM FOR HOLOCAUST DENIAL; PAPON DIES

Separately, in Germany on Thursday, the Mannheim state court convicted far-right activist Ernst Zundel of incitement for denying the Holocaust, and sentenced him to the maximum five years in prison.

The 67-year-old, who was deported from Canada in 2005, was convicted on 14 counts of incitement for years of anti-Semitic activities, including denying the Holocaust (a crime in Germany), in documents and on the Internet.

Zundel showed no emotion when the verdict was read. His lawyer quoted from “Mein Kampf” and from Nazi race laws in his closing statements in order to somehow persuade the court that Zundel should be acquitted.

Another of Zundel’s five attorneys, Herbert Schaller, accused the court of not wanting to face a “scientific analysis” of the Holocaust, which he said could not be proven to have occurred.

Unpersuaded, the court then handed down Zundel the maximum sentence.

The French wartime Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in deporting Jews to Nazi death camps, died on Saturday, aged 96. In spite of Papon’s role in carrying out the Holocaust, he was appointed budget minister in the French government after the war. His lawyer said he “died peacefully in his sleep.”

“THE ARABS KNOW THE TRUTH, BUT THIS DOESN’T CHANGE A THING”

The first article attached below concerns the recent excavations which have taken place at the Mugrabi Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Whilst the affair has caused outrage in the Muslim world, many in Israel, including Elyakim Haetzni, writing below, argue that it proves “the futility of the dream of reconciliation with the Arabs. After all, it is clear to all, even to Leftist Jews, that the Arabs know the truth, but this doesn’t change a thing.”

Whilst many Imams have claimed Israel is “destroying part of the al-Aqsa Mosque,” the Israeli Aniquities Authority is merely replacing an access ramp that collapsed three years ago, for the benefit and safety of all visitors.

It should be noted that this ramp is being built for the safety of visitors, 97 percent of whom are non-Jewish, and that Israel has a second-to-none record of preserving and protecting the holy sites of all three major religions in Jerusalem.

A short video explaining the Israeli construction can be seen here.

***

In the second article attached below, Gwynne Dyer, a London-based independent journalist, argues that “walls are going up all over the world, and most of them will not come down for a long time, if ever.”

Whilst Israel’s (successful) security fence received widespread media attention, the latest country to build itself a fence, Thailand (to stop terrorists from crossing into Thailand’s restive Muslim-majority southern provinces from northern Malaysia), has received virtually no criticism. Surprisingly, this article was run on the website of an Arab paper (Arab News), albeit an English-language Arab newspaper.

This list/website has previously discussed the fence Saudi Arabia is building along the full length of its porous border with Yemen (at a cost of $8.5 billion). The Saudis are also now building a high-tech barrier along its 900-km (550-mile) border with Iraq, but no one is boycotting Saudi flowers as a result.

-- Tom Gross



FULL ARTICLE

ARABS KNOW EXCAVATION WORKS NOT DAMAGING MOSQUE

Truth and punishment
Arabs know excavation works not damaging mosque
By Elyakim Haetzni
Yediot Ahronot
February 12, 2007

www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3364001,00.html

There’s nothing like the Mugrabi Gate affair to prove the futility of the dream of reconciliation with the Arabs. After all, it is clear to all, even to Leftist Jews, that the Arabs know the truth, but this doesn’t change a thing.

Sheikh Ra’ad Salah stood there at the excavation site expressly outside the Temple Mount compound, far from the mosques and shamelessly announced: “This is a crime. Israel is destroying part of the al-Aqsa Mosque.”

“There’s no excuse for the excavation works that are undermining the sacredness of Islam.” I would have understood had the head of the Islamic Movement’s northern branch said this, but it’s surprising to hear King Abdullah of Jordan, a sought-after and beloved partner who knew about the excavations in advance, saying so. How can he accuse us of something he knows isn’t true, and that we know that he knows? And what does Olmert say to himself when Mahmoud Abbas, who received funds, arms and kisses from him, when Abbas attacked Israel “for changing the character of the place and making it Jewish” when even he knows the truth.

This false protest is consciously backed by countries such as Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan - all described by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as “moderate Arab states with whom we not only share the same values but also the same interests.” How will Livni explain that her new friends are now setting her up?

Slap in the face from Siniora

This question should concern the peace camp, because it is seeking to mortgage our future against the words and signatures of such people and regimes. Either the “partners” have remained enemies within, or despite them being “moderate” they are being pressured by their people to attack. Either way, the result is the same; we shall surrender the heart of our country, threaten our security, and risk a civil war in exchange for a commitment that is worthless.

Olmert received a similar slap in the face from Lebanon’s Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who is presenting the deployment of troops in the south of Lebanon as an “achievement” of the last war. Even Siniora was informed of the plan to carry out excavation works in our sovereign territory, and knowing the truth he sent his army to fire at us and condemn us for our “Israeli aggression.”

The new Arab colleagues are no different than Arafat, who also knew that the Western wall Tunnel and Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount did not undermine the mosques, yet despite this, with cold cynicism, he turned both these incidences into a casus belli for two wars.

The defense minister, who is folding under anti-truth terror, is reminiscent of Katherina in Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.

Petruchio: I say it is the moon that shines so bright.

Katherina: I know it is the sun that shines so bright.

Petruchio: Now by my mother’s son, and that’s myself,
It shall be moon, or star, or what I list,
Or ere I journey to your father’s house.
Go on and fetch our horses back again.
Evermore cross’d and cross’d; nothing but cross’d!

Hortensio: Say as he says, or we shall never go.

Katherina: Forward, I pray, since we have come so far,
And be it moon, or sun, or what you please;
And if you please to call it a rush-candle,
Henceforth I vow it shall be so for me.

Petruchio: I say it is the moon.

Katherina: I know it is the moon.

Petruchio: Nay, then you lie; it is the blessed sun.

Katherina: Then, God be bless’d, it is the blessed sun;
But sun it is not, when you say it is not;
And the moon changes even as your mind.
What you will have it nam’d, even that it is,
And so it shall be so for Katherine.

 

WHY WALLS ARE GOING UP ALL OVER THE WORLD?

Why walls are going up all over the world?
By Gwynne Dyer
Arab News
February 18, 2007

www.arabnews.com/?page=7§ion=0&article=92084&d=13&m=2&y=2007

If good fences make good neighbors, then the world is experiencing an unprecedented outbreak of neighborliness. They used to wall cities. Now they wall whole countries.

The latest country to start building a wall sorry, a “security fence” is Thailand, which has just announced plans to build a physical barrier along the most inaccessible 75 km. (50 miles) of its frontier with Malaysia. The goal, says Bangkok, is to stop “terrorists” from crossing into Thailand’s restive Muslim-majority southern provinces from northern Malaysia, whose people share the same language and religion. If experience elsewhere is any guide, the whole border will be walled sooner or later.

India is well on the way to being walled (except along the Himalayas, where the mountains do the job for free). The barrier along its 3,000-km. (1,800-mile) border with Pakistan is largely complete except in the parts of Kashmir where the steep and broken terrain precludes the construction of the usual two-row, three-meter-high (ten-foot-high) fence, with concertina wire and mines between the two fences. And India is now building an even longer barrier (3,300 km., 1,950 miles) to halt illegal immigration from Bangladesh.

While India’s walls keep unwelcome intruders out, the barriers around North Korea are meant to keep North Koreans in. The original fortifications along the Demilitarised Zone between North and South Korea, which have been continually improved since the 1950s, were built mainly to stop infiltration by North Korean troops or saboteurs. However, the fence that Beijing is now building along its own frontier with North Korea is a precautionary measure to stop an immense wave of refugees from entering China if the regime in Pyongyang collapses.

The majority of the new walls springing up around the world are there to stop either terrorist attacks or illegal immigration, but sometimes they also serve as a unilateral way of defining a country’s desired borders. That is certainly true of the 2,700 km. (1,600 miles) of high sand or stone berms, backed by wire fences, mines, radar, troop bunkers and artillery bases, that seal off Western Sahara, annexed by Morocco in 1975, from the camps in Algeria from which many of the former inhabitants waged a guerrilla war until the 1991 cease-fire.

It is equally true of the wall that Israel is building through the occupied West Bank. The country has long had heavily mined and monitored barrier fences along its external frontiers with Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon and around the Gaza Strip, but the wall in the West Bank does not follow the cease-fire line of 1967. Instead it penetrates deep into the Palestinian territories at a number of points to leave Jewish settlement blocs on the Israeli side, and it cuts off (Arab) East Jerusalem from the West Bank entirely.

Pakistan is building a 1,500-mile fence with Afghanistan, Uzbekistan has built a fence along its border with Tajikistan, the United Arab Emirates is erecting a barrier along its frontier with Oman, and Kuwait is upgrading its existing 215-km (125-mile) wall along the Iraqi frontier. But the most impressive barriers are certainly around Saudi Arabia.

Saudis have been quietly pursuing an $8.5 billion project to fence off the full length of its porous border with Yemen for some years, but the highest priority now is to get a high-tech barrier built along the 900-km (550-mile) border with Iraq. “If and when Iraq fragments, there’s going to be a lot of people heading south,” said Nawaf Obaid, head of the Saudi National Security Assessment Project, “and that is when we have to be prepared.”

By comparison, the apparently endless debate about building a relatively low-tech fence along the 3,360-km (1,920-mile) US border with Mexico to cut illegal immigration seems like an echo from an innocent past.

The European Union’s feeble gestures toward curbing illegal immigration from Africa (fences around the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the Moroccan coast, naval patrols off the Canary Islands) seem merely pathetic. But these are probably the last of the Good Old Days, at least in Europe.

The reason that the United States is incapable of controlling its Mexican border is political, not financial or technological: Powerful domestic lobbies work to ensure a steady supply of “undocumented” Mexican workers who will accept very low wages because they are in the United States illegally. President Bush has now been authorized by Congress to build a fence along about 1,125 km (700 miles) of the Mexican border, but he will stall as long as he can while experimenting with a so-called “virtual fence.”

No equivalent lobby operates in the European Union, and it is only a matter of time before really serious barriers appear on the EU’s land frontiers, especially with Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Turkey. The walls are going up all over the world, and most of them will not come down for a long time, if ever.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.