The New York Times today has a top-of-the-front-page article about tens of thousands of Palestinians managing to get over or through “what Israelis call the security barrier” to work without papers inside Israel. It is a vivid account of smuggling workers into Israel from Palestine.
On the one hand, the article by James Glanz and Rami Nazzal, marks real progress: the Times is showing that the wall is not really a security barrier — 55,000 Palestinians legally pass through it and 30-60,000 illegally. If Palestinians really want to kill Israelis, the wall is no obstacle at all.
The industry offers economic benefits for everyone involved: Palestinian workers earn double or quadruple the wages they can in the West Bank; Israeli contractors and restaurant owners pay less for illegal labor than for Palestinians with permits . . .
There are currently about 55,000 Palestinians with permits working legally in Israel . . .
Estimates vary widely on the number of illegal workers. Mr. [Khalil] Shikaki said 30,000 was a reasonable guess; Mr. Nuriel said it was closer to 60,000, depending on the time of year.
The article makes clear that only the tiniest fraction of those who come in to Israel come in to attack; 99.9999 percent come to work. Thus the article exposes the lie that the wall has stopped attacks on Israelis. There are no attacks because Palestinians are choosing by and large not to resort to violence to counter the occupation. And the two societies are interdependent.
So why the wall?
That’s the big flaw in the article. It doesn’t address the political purposes of the wall: to grab as much Palestinian land with maximum Jews on it. The wall travels for most of its course to the east of the Green Line, taking Palestinian territory and protecting illegal Israeli settlements/colonies to its west. It is a de facto apartheid border. And just in case you missed that point, Dennis Ross, the former White House negotiator, said last week in New York that Israel should take measures to hold on to all the land to the west of the wall, leaving the other 93 percent of the West Bank to Palestinians for a state, some day. Will Palestinians really want the leftovers? That’s 93 percent of 22 percent of the original 100 percent of mandatory Palestine; and they are cut off from Jerusalem, which this article inaccurately treats as Israeli territory.