Comparing Partitions

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This month there are those recognizing this fourth anniversary (the decision was announced, actually, a week ago):

Palestinian leaders today said they would seek UN sanctions against Israel after the international court of justice ruled that the barrier being built around the West Bank was illegal and should be pulled down.

Announcing its findings, the court said the “security wall” infringed the rights of Palestinians, adding that Israel should pay compensation for the damage it had caused.

It was big news in a lot of places, except we had a presidential election going on. Besides, we officially sided with Israel:

Israeli officials insisted they would not accept the court’s ruling, saying the barrier provided a vital security bulwark against Palestinian suicide bombers. They argued it has already saved hundreds of lives since building work began.

…The Israeli position was supported by the US administration, which argued that the international court of justice was not the right place in which to address the issue. “We do not believe that that’s the appropriate forum to resolve what is a political issue,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

At least the Israelis had a rationale. The United States faces no such threat from the Tohono O’odham nation. Who?

Calling it an affront to religious freedom, representatives of an Arizona Indian tribe have asked the federal government to halt construction of a border fence across the tribe’s Arizona reservation.

Leaders of the Tohono O’odham nation say the fence, currently being built along the U.S.-Mexican border by the Department of Homeland Security, will prevent members of their nation from crossing into Mexico for traditional religious ceremonies.

“This wall and the construction of this wall has destroyed our communities, our burial sites and ancient Tohono O’odham routes throughout our lands,” said Ofelia Rivas, according to the Washington Times.

Rivas argued that the fence will violate the 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act, which guarantees free exercise of traditional religious practices for Native Americans. She said that the fence would disrupt such practices by limiting travel to and from O’odham land in Mexico.

The Tohono O’odham reservation straddles the Mexican border for 75 miles in Arizona, and extends south into Mexico. According to the 2000 census, 18,000 people live on the reservation, which spans an area roughly the size of Connecticut.

For the sake of comparison, Connecticut’s land area is 5544 square miles; the West Bank’s is 2270.  So we’re not talking about some two-horse town here, exactly.

I guess, if the Tohono O’odham nation would bring this dispute to the Hague, DHS could argue that we stole the land fair and square, and so what are they doing on our border?


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