From Berlin to Jerusalem

Twenty-five years ago, almost to the day, when men and women did the exact same thing in Berlin, it was heralded as the dawn of a new age of universal progress and civilization. Let’s see how this incident in Israel today is reported, if it’s reported at all.

Commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall today, a Palestinian smashes a hole in the separation wall near Jerusalem.


  1. bolshevikpunk November 8, 2014 at 11:56 pm | #

    Reblogged this on bolshevikpunx.

  2. Rosalind Petchesky November 9, 2014 at 11:58 am | #

    Huge thanks for noting this, Corey – nothing escapes your vigilant eye. It’s stunning, and the comparison (or contrast) very apt for this moment. Ros

  3. BillR November 9, 2014 at 12:03 pm | #

    Walls have always been central to Zionist thinking. Just searching for “wall” in a single article I came across these great achievements of hafrada (separation):

    During the Oslo era, the time of hope that prevailed in mid-1990’s Israel, it was the “dovish” Labor Party of Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak that began surrounding the Gaza Strip with barricades and electrified fencing while drawing up plans for a wall separating the West Bank from “Israel proper.”…It is the Saharonim detention facility, a vast matrix of watchtowers, concrete blast walls, razor wire, and surveillance cameras that now comprise what the British Independent has described as “the world’s biggest detention center.”…The bill earmarked funding for the construction of Saharonim and a massive wall along the Israeli-Egyptian border. Arnon Sofer, a longtime Netanyahu advisor, also urged the construction of “sea walls” to guard against future “climate change refugees.”…Because indigenous Palestinians and foreign migrants are not Jews, the state of Israel has legally defined most of them as “infiltrators,” mandating their removal and permanent relocation to various zones of exclusion—from refugee camps across the Arab world to walled-off West Bank Bantustans to the besieged Gaza Strip to state-constructed Bedouin reservations to the desert camp of Saharonim…As long as the state of Israel holds fast to its demographic imperatives, the non-Jewish outclass must be “concentrated” to make room for exclusively Jewish settlement and economic development. This is not a particularly humane system, to be sure, but it is one that all within the spectrum of Zionist opinion, from the Kahanist right to the J Street left, necessarily support. Indeed, if there is any substantial disagreement between the two seemingly divergent camps, it is over the style of rhetoric they deploy in defense of Israel’s ethnocracy. As the revisionist Zionist ideologue Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote in his famous 1923 “Iron Wall” essay outlining the logic of what would become Israel’s deterrence strategy, “there are no meaningful differences between our ‘militarists’ and our ‘vegetarians.’”

    No wonder Hitler’s inspiration, Mussolini was an admirer of Jabotinsky who has a starring role on Israeli banknotes as a Founding Father of the state:

    For Zionism to succeed you need to have a Jewish state, with a Jewish flag and a Jewish language. The person who really understands that is your fascist, Jabotinsky.

  4. yuliy November 9, 2014 at 10:46 pm | #

    This does not look like the separation wall at all (as anyone who crossed it once should know). Perhaps highway sound wall. Might be even in Israel, though no certainty.

    I would surprised if this were reported anywhere outside some police blotter.

    • Corey Robin November 9, 2014 at 11:02 pm | #

      Funnily enough, the folks at Haaretz certainly seem to think it looks like the separation wall. But maybe they’ve never seen it either.

      • yuliy November 9, 2014 at 11:57 pm | #

        My guess would be that yeah, the folks who wrote that sad copy never were close to it.

      • David44 November 10, 2014 at 1:50 pm | #

        Well, the destruction took place, according to Haaretz, at Bir Nabala; and this B’tselem report from 2007 ( ) shows that at Bir Nabala the separation wall looks EXACTLY as it does in the picture here. But perhaps you think that the people at B’tselem have never seen the separation wall either …

  5. Hal MacLean November 10, 2014 at 6:35 pm | #

    The Berlin Wall was built to keep East Germans from getting out (to West Berlin and freedom). The Separation Wall was built to keep terrorists from getting in — to Israel. There are plenty of issues with Israeli government policies but I fail to see the analogy with the Berlin Wall.

    • PAK November 10, 2014 at 8:59 pm | #

      Hal MacLean: Thank you for pointing this out. Taqiyya, distortions, and publicity stunts—as if palestinians have not attacked and damaged in earnest the mostly barbed wire fences that separate Israel from the west bank and Gaza and provide a level of security many times before—only harm the palestinian cause.

  6. Devin Doyle November 10, 2014 at 10:00 pm | #

    Reblogged this on modern pentecostal and commented:
    It’s not an exact comparison, but still an interesting thought.

  7. Edgar November 12, 2014 at 6:13 pm | #

    Wanted to second Hal’s point (thanks Hal, you beat me to it!) and thus to register my at dismay Devin. What do you mean it’s not an “exact comparison” it’s about as exact a comparison as this: on the 25 anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall I punched a whole in my sock! Why is that not national news! Solidarity with my toes.
    Yes, I know that Prof. Robin never makes bad comparisons and is always good at apt analogies, all the way from Edmond Burke to Sarah Palin, but it takes a very strange misunderstanding of what the Berlin Wall was and what the Separation Barrier / Wall / Fence are to draw this analogy. The Berlin Wall was a symbol of East Germany oppressing its people. When people want to get out of your country, it’s a good sign you’re doing some thing wrong. When you don’t let them leave, you are doing something wrong.
    The separation barrier is Israel keeping people out of Israel. Whole different issue. Many people, many countries, many institutions, many homes (many campuses!) construct fences to protect our property and to keep trespassers OUT. And that’s without even getting into WHY that fence has been built (hint: why is the new violence in Jerusalem so far – thankfully – not escalating into bus-bombings and terror attacks from beyond the wall…).

    • David44 November 13, 2014 at 5:17 pm | #

      There is a vital issue, however, that makes your comment about “many people, many countries, many institutions, many homes” less than apposite. Other people (countries, institutions, homes) build their protecting barriers on their OWN property. Had Israel built the separation barrier inside the Green Line, on territory that is internationally accepted as part of the State of Israel, few if any of us would have objected (indeed, the original proposal to build a protecting barrier – inside the Green Line – came from the Israeli Left, not the supporters of settlements). The problem comes because it was built on OTHER PEOPLE’S property. I cannot think of anything to compare that to – can you? Even the East Germans built the Berlin Wall on East German territory – they didn’t seize a chunk of West Berlin to build it on.

      In that respect (not in others), the difference between the separation barrier and the Berlin Wall is only to the advantage of the latter. It takes some doing to make ANY aspect of the Berlin Wall look good by comparison, but Israel seems to have managed it.

Leave a Reply