Sør-Trøndelag, a county council in Norway has decided to boycott goods from Israel, on account of the West Bank Barrier (also referred to by Israel as a wall or fence).
"The county has before decided to boycott South Africa in protest against the apartheid government. In a similar way we wish now to make clear that we distance ourselves from Israel's politics"
said Geir Jarle Sir�s from the Socialist Leftwing Party to the Norwegian TV 2.
Harry’s Place, where this item is from, asks why Israel has been singled out for a boycott when leaders of other countries such as Burma, China, Iran and Sudan are “doing much more terrible things”. Sounds like moral relativism to me, since Israel’s “terrible things” are as bad as any terrible thing from Burma, which, irrespective of any boycott, is still more of an International pariah than Israel.
This is more information about the Israel Wall:
“It is estimated that Israel's Annexation Wall will be completed in the early part of 2006. When it is finished it will annex 47% of the West Bank, and hand it over to the settler population.
At least 15% of Palestinians will be left outside the wall1, completely isolated from the rest of society, and over 222,098 refugees for the second or third times will experience, "land confiscation, destruction of property, and denial of access to their lands thus directly affecting their means of livelihood"2. In the end, it is not an over exaggeration to say that the entire Palestinian society will directly suffer by its completion, in addition to the seemingly unstoppable illegal Israeli practices that continue unhindered.”
Meanwhile, an Indian blog from the same end of the political spectrum as Harry’s Place, the eponymously titled Secular-Right India, links to a Reuters report about recent developments on the India-Bangladesh border:
India is deploying thousands of new troops on its frontier with Bangladesh and setting up hundreds of more border posts to check illegal migration and movement of armed militants, a top official said.
New Delhi decided to bolster its eastern border defences in September to crack down on militants moving in from Bangladesh, although Dhaka denies anti-India elements are using its soil.
Secular-Right India, as expected, thinks that this is “An excellent development”. It's unsubtle but this sentiment is by far the most representative of reactions coming from India regarding the border wall building exercise with Bangladesh.
I found a comment by Roz Paterson, tucked away in the archives of the Scottish Socialist Voice:
Inspired perhaps by Israel’s ‘apartheid wall’ to keep out the Palestinians, India is constructing her very own security barrier to discourage migrants from its poorer neighbour, Bangladesh.
The Indian government has made some noises about terrorism prevention but the real motive behind the fence that will ultimately span the entire 2500 mile border with Bangladesh is that India’s economy is booming and she doesn’t want to share.
But where the Israeli barrier has been cunningly arranged to grab fertile lands from the Palestinians, the Indian wall is disadvantaging primarily Indians - approximately 65,000 of them - in this matter. Because of a longstanding border-treaty between the two nations, which states that no fence can be erected within 150 yards of the border, the barrier is set 150 yards back into India. For Indian border farmers this is disastrous, as, thanks to the cranking up of aggression between the two peoples, they must now abandon farmlands they have worked for generations or face being hounded from them by the Bangladeshis once they find themselves on the wrong side of the wire.
The aggression goes back decades and is most powerfully felt in the relations between Indian and Bangladeshi border guards who stalk the perimeter. There is a long history of clashes between the two, but now it’s getting murderous.
Three weeks ago, an Indian local assistant commander is alleged to have been lured across the border by members of the Bangladesh Rifles, where he was tortured then killed. Meanwhile, in India, paranoia regarding Bangladeshi immigrants is running at an hysterical high. So hysterical that, last month, the Maharashtra state government closed down Bombay’s dance bars because, they claimed, the Bangladeshi dancers there were spies!
Despite having nowhere to go, and no money to facilitate a move, many border Indians are upping sticks anyway, too afraid of what may come next. For some, this has ghastly echoes of Partition, when the crude severance of the subcontinent following the British withdrawal forced Hindus to flee in one direction while Muslims fled in the other. Thousands were murdered, others disappeared, still others ran with only the clothes they stood up in... and landed, some of them, in Tripura, near the Bangladeshi border, where they were granted Indian citizenship and allowed to settle. That period of relative peace seems done with now and, for many whose memories extend back to the butchery of Partition, history is coming back to haunt them.
Both walls are to keep people out. Palestinian people in the case of Israel’s wall and Bangladeshi people in the case of India’s. Both have been built on the pretext of keeping terrorists out but thats where the parallel ends. India has built its wall to keep out economic migrants from Bangladesh. So obviously it doesn't take a political scientist to know that the reason for both walls is to protect the economic interests of the wall builders. However, anyone living in West Bengal or East Bangladesh knows that the border is and always has been porous and happens to benefit India as much as Bangladesh with both licit and illicit trade. India has obviously decided that the cost of unprecedented levels of one-way illegal Muslim migrancy into India outweighs the benefits of two-way trade along the longest border in South Asia.
But what is Bangladesh's reaction to all of this? Apparently talks between the two nations are continuing. What should Bangladesh’s correct response to India’s Wall be? Discuss.