Live From New York

The Wall

Critics of Israel's defense fence should listen to Bing Crosby.

By and 10.10.03

Send to Kindle

The critics -- and there are many across the world -- of the fence Israel is in the process of erecting as a defense against invading murderers do not seem to understand the basic difference between a sword and a shield. Bing Crosby explained it nearly fifty years ago.

On July 25, 1944, Crosby ambled into a recording studio, was joined by the Andrew Sisters and was handed sheet music for a Cole Porter song he had never seen before. A half hour later he left the studio having recorded a song that subsequently sold more than a million records and was at the top of the Billboard charts for 8 weeks. Its name was not "Don't Fence Me Out." For readers whose age is little more than the size of their suit, or regardless of age whose IQ hovers around the same number and cannot figure it out, the name of the song is, "Don't Fence Me In."

The point is, the offending element of fences and walls is when they are meant to keep people in, not out. America has created ditches, barbed wire fences, electronic devices, instituted patrols, border crossing stop-points, and utilized guard dogs all of which are intended to keep undesirable people and products out of the country. Before 9/11 these systems were not even aimed at terrorists who sought to sneak into this country to do violence, but were designed to prevent smuggling of illegal drugs and commercial merchandise upon which custom duties had not been paid into the U.S., as well as curtail illegal immigration and keep migrant Mexican workers out of America. No one -- except occasionally spokespersons for migrant workers and for people seeking political asylum -- voiced any objection, since every country has the self-evident right to determine who or what will be allowed entrance to its homeland.

In any developed country, every house or apartment has a front door with a lock. The purpose of the door and lock is to keep unwanted people out, not to lock people in. If it were otherwise keys to the doors would be on the inside of the door, not on the outside. As a matter of fact -- putting children and pets aside -- if the purpose were not to keep people out there would be no need for these doors, let alone locks, at all.

The opponents of the Israeli self-defense fence immediately likened it to the Berlin Wall or, more usually, the Warsaw Ghetto. The Warsaw Ghetto was created by the Nazis as a way-station to the death camps -- the way cattle today are penned in at the Chicago stockyards before being taken to the slaughterhouse -- not to protect the citizens of Warsaw against the Jews. If the walls of the Ghetto were put up because Jews had become suicide bombers, infiltrating into Warsaw, blowing up buses, killing infants and children, this fact has managed to be hidden from history for fifty years.

Similarly the Berlin Wall was not built to protect East Berliners from suicidal West Berliners, seeking to become martyrs, with visions of 17 virgins in heaven dancing in their heads, as they slipped into East Berlin, bent on reckless violence, murder and their own self-destruction.

And, as we know from the graphic newsreels, the East German border guards were shooting at people seeking to escape East Berlin, not trying to enter the city.

Some few of Israel's critics (and across the world the distinction between anti-Semites and anti-Zionists is rapidly being extinguished) have also made a comparison with the Great Wall of China, forgetting it was built by the Chinese to keep the Mongols out, not to keep the citizens of China from fraternizing with the hordes sweeping down from the north.

Walls or fences can be torn down, altered, dismantled or moved. Not one Jewish life extinguished by the invading terrorist fanatics can be resurrected -- even in Bethlehem.

The on-line "Palestine Report" -- guess about its impartiality -- interviewed Bethlehem's Mayor, Hanna Nasser. It noted that in the 1948 war his family lost properties. Of course, outside of the mere mention of the war, there is no mention that it was an aggressive Arab war aimed at the extinction of Israel -- a goal that Arabs are hard-put to repudiate, even merely in name only, so many years later.

The Mayor is quoted as saying, "What makes good walls are good neighbors." This obviously is, what he believed to be, a clever reference to Robert Frost's poem "Mending Wall," which contains the line, "Good fences make good neighbors." Equally as obvious, he did not read the poem. The poem is about two old neighbors, old friends who are walking along the boundaries between their property, as they do each year, picking up the rocks, stones and tree branches that have fallen over time,

Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, "Good fences make good neighbors."

The poem then goes on to explain that the poet's friend, walking beside him, said he adopted the "good fences" expression from his father.

He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought it so well...

Mayor Nasser might do well to read the entire poem, since the problems Jews have with the Palestinians do not involve apples or pines nor are the Arabs good neighbors. In fact it might do many of the Palestinians a great deal of good if they spent their time reading Robert Frost, who wrote of the simple virtues and honest lives of Americans, rather than devote their reading to bomb-making manuals.

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article
About the Author

Jackie Mason is a comedian.

About the Author

Raoul Felder is a lawyer.