I read with interest the article “Airing the Palestinian side” [News, Nov. 13]. The article quotes a St. Giles participant saying there is “excessive concern for security” within the Israeli government.
Tell that to the average Israeli. My family and I were within a few short blocks of the Mahane Yehuda market on July 30, 1997. An explosion from two suicide bombers ripped through the market, killing 16 people and wounding 178. If it wasn’t for the timing, we might have been an additional three. This was one of dozens of terrorist bombings that killed civilians. Mahane Yehuda itself was bombed again in 2002.
We again found ourselves in Jerusalem in November 2012. Shortly after we arrived, a rocket fired from a heavily-populated civilian area of neighboring Gaza landed just outside Jerusalem. We heard the explosion. We could only be thankful that the rocket launcher did not have better aim but could have as easily hit Palestinian areas as Israeli ones.
It is estimated that over 100,000 rockets in Gaza are aimed at Israel. There are those who say the Israelis should not strike back as there have been few deaths or injuries. They would rather see Israelis killed than defend themselves. Israel is not the only nation to erect border separation barriers as a defensive, anti-smuggling or anti-illegal immigration measure although it appears to be the only country widely and repeatedly criticized for having done so. Other borders include Spain and Morocco, China and North Korea, Egypt and Gaza, India and Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, North Korea and South Korea, Kuwait and Iraq, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, Cyprus and Northern Cyprus, United States and Mexico, Morocco and Western Sahara, Botswana and Zimbabwe, Brunei and Malaysia, Thailand and Malaysia. Others are planned.
And separation barriers are not new. The Great Wall of China began as a separation barrier 2,200 years ago. It is only in modern times that it has become a historical artifact. Closer to home, Canada went through a crisis in October 1970. After dozens, if not hundreds of bombings over years by a radical group, the Province of Quebec was plunged into crisis when the British Trade Representative was kidnapped, followed by the kidnapping and murder of a provincial government minister.
Prime Minister Trudeau, a staunch advocate of civil liberties, invoked the War Powers Act, a form of martial law, bringing armed Canadian troops in the streets. It made a great impression on me as a young student in Montreal who remembered the National Guard on the streets of many U.S. cities during the race riots of the 1960s.
It is easy, when you live thousands of miles away, and protected by a vast ocean, to be critical. Any U.S. resident would demand a response to bus bombings, blown-up restaurants and other attacks that feel like a series of 9/11s. The separation barrier is such a response, resulting in a significant drop in terrorist activity.
Alan Peres is an Oak Park resident.