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article imageOp-Ed: Concrete barrier removed in Jerusalem

By Frank Kaufmann     Aug 15, 2010 in Politics
New York - The removal of the concrete barriers in Beit Jalla is very good news, but now is a dangerous time. Leaders must invest in ongoing improvement in the area.
UPI reports today that the Israeli army's Home Front Command began removing the concrete barriers in the southwest Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, that separated the residential area from the Palestinian town of Beit Jalla. The barrier was erected during the second intifada to protect Jerusalem residents from Palestinian sniper fire.
"At the outbreak of the second intifada in October 2000, Palestinian snipers positioned themselves in Beit Jalla -- separated by a deep gorge from the Jerusalem neighborhood -- and shot at Israelis.
"A decision was made two years later to erect high concrete barriers along the side of the neighborhood that overlooks the Palestinian areas, to enhance residents' security.
"Home Front command officer Lt. Gen. Hezi Revivo Sunday said a decision was made to dismantle the barrier because of the greatly improved situation."
Of course the barrier is constructed by Israel, and the language of self-protection is likewise Israeli generated. There is language about this reality from Palestinians and sympathizers that likely differs on how the barriers between Gilo and Beit Jalla might be described.
This more complex and embattled use of media aside, the announcement by the government of Israel today to dismantle these barriers reflects very good news, news surely worthy of international attention.
"At the outbreak of the second intifada in October 2000, Palestinian snipers positioned themselves in Beit Jalla -- separated by a deep gorge from the Jerusalem neighborhood -- and shot at Israelis.
"A decision was made two years later to erect high concrete barriers along the side of the neighborhood that overlooks the Palestinian areas, to enhance residents' security.
"Home Front command officer Lt. Gen. Hezi Revivo Sunday said a decision was made to dismantle the barrier because of the greatly improved situation."
Urgent imperatives surround these new conditions in the area in which a major gamble of trust has been undertaken. We pray for the leadership, civic, social, political, and religious to succeed in protecting this fragile icon of progress.
In areas of tension "good" suffers such profound injustice and disadvantage. A single act of betrayal or violence can in a stroke shatter the trust, courage, and delicate frame of shared vulnerability offered by 1,000's of innocents.
Additionally, there exists an important deception among leaders and common affected players that tension environments can survive in "neutral" or in a static status quo. This is not the case, and reality does not have any such environment. Circumstances either improve or degenerate, and in human affairs the question of which is contingent upon visionary investment, and creative and constructive pursuit of improving conditions incrementally.
The removal of the concrete barriers because "the security situation in the area has greatly improved in recent years and there is no need to leave the barrier standing," while wonderful news, must be taken as a turning point requiring substantial and measurable advance in positive care, collaboration, and mutual support across the lines of the two neighboring communities.
Residents of these neighboring towns should feel pride and hope to stand as an avant garde and example for similar and worse points of contact throughout the Holy Land, and their leaders should invest courageously at improving conditions and relationships in these neighborhoods with vigor and at all costs.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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