Maps That Infuriate Me: Walls in Palestine

I haven't written for my "Maps That Infuriate Me" series in quite a while, but now I think it's time to return to it. The following maps attempt to show Israel's walls constructed in the West Bank, the primary territory of the state of Palestine. Palestine's other territory - the Gaza Strip - is entirely encircled, but what's different about the walls in Palestine is how they encroach on, divide, and even completely surround Palestinian communities and land, disrupting vital connections between Palestinians and worsening their living conditions. This grossly violates the border known as the "Green Line," product of the 1949 Armistice Agreements made between Israel and four of its opponents during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. It also violates the sovereignty and security of life and property the Palestinian people deserve, and that's why these maps infuriate me.

The Arab residents of what we now call Gaza, Israel and the West Bank never had a say in the 1949 "green line" demarcations of territory. Nevertheless, the Green Line does define where Israel's democratic government rules and where it does not. In the places it does not, there are divisions between areas controlled by the Palestinian National Authority and areas that are occupied and controlled by the Israeli military, Israeli settlers, and all sorts of security barriers and roads built for Israeli use only. Now, here are two maps of the West Bank:


The map on left gives a general picture of how Palestinians have been cordoned off and isolated, separated from each other and from the border with Jordan. The map on the right is more detailed, showing how the Israeli walls have been built well beyond the Green Line and how settlers have invaded the West Bank. Honestly, I have no idea how these Israeli settlements in the West Bank even began. How did Israel justify these incursions onto Palestinian land, and then decide to follow them with walls and soldiers, quickly placing the West Bank in a geographic chokehold? This site has many more maps that show the history of Israel/Palestine, including maps of how Palestinian land decreased more and more over the decades.

Now, back in April I listened to a talk by Peter Beinart at Georgetown. He's an author and journalist with several published books, including The Icarus Syndrome, a book I read to about a third of the way through and then quit, though I do appreciate its basic thesis. In any case, Beinart spoke at Georgetown about another book - his most recent - The Crisis of Zionism. The Crisis of Zionism has been a controversial book, touching on the nature of American Jews' support of Israel and how Israel's occupation of Palestine may threaten its democracy. I haven't read the book, but I think I certainly agree with Beinart that the likelihood of a peaceful "two-state solution" being achieved is diminishing. It diminishes bit by bit with every year Israel infringes on Palestinian land and sovereignty, and with every year Israelis sacrifice their liberal, democratic ideals through their marginalization of others. The issues involved, however, are of course very complex, and here, for example, is a strong criticism of Beinart's book.

I have never been well-versed in Israel-Palestine issues, or the history and politics of the Near East in general. Considering how much vitriol and argument these issues can induce, it's no surprise that the only other time I've written about Israel on this blog was here, and the only time I wrote about Palestine was here. To be perfectly honest, I think the ideal, utopian future for the land of Palestine and Israel is a "one-state solution," with a single, multi-ethnic, tolerant, democratic and secular state containing both Jews and Muslims. However, my own utopian opinion matters little (or not at all) compared to others' judgments, and those matter little in comparison with what will actually happen in the coming years. Regardless, my point is ultimately that these maps should infuriate everyone, because although there may not be open war between Israel and Palestine, true peace for the people who live in those lands is still far from becoming a reality.

If you haven't already, please read my two previous posts in the "Maps That Infuriate Me" series: European Claims to North America and World Poverty.

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