Friday, December 30, 2005

Parallel walls

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.

14 Comments:

At December 31, 2005 12:35 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

You're wrong, Siddartha. Nothing Israel does is as bad as this:
http://www.globalpolicy.org/socecon/inequal/labor/2005/0325iloburma.htm

The [International Labor Organization] estimates that over 800,000 people in Burma are victims of forced labour, which ranges from cleaning roads, carrying heavy loads for the army, constructing military buildings and working on infrastructure projects.

Gene (of Harry's Place)

 
At December 31, 2005 2:55 am, Blogger Siddhartha said...

Gene,

You can't make an absolute statement like "You're wrong, Siddartha" and then ask me to indulge in a relativist comparison on which country's crimes are worse. Burma's crimes on its own people are terrible. I have many good Burmese friends who have suffered.

Sorry to get all Shammi Charaborty on you, but I would say that Israel's crimes are as relatively terrible as anything Burma has done.

Here is a list of Israel's War Crimes on Palestinians:
http://www.mediamonitors.net/francis7.html

What Burmese products would you boycott?

Siddharth

 
At December 31, 2005 3:31 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What Burmese products would you boycott?

A number of Norwegian companies import timber from Burma, a trade that represents ten percent of that country's export earnings.

http://www.fafo.no/nyhet/armofthelaw.htm

I'd start there.

And I still think you're wrong.

Gene

 
At December 31, 2005 3:49 am, Blogger Siddhartha said...

10% of that country's trade. If thats the case, it'd be fair to start with a call for Norway to issue an embargo that results in a similar dent to Israel's economy.

Siddarth

 
At December 31, 2005 2:29 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most of Windows operating systems were developed by Microsoft-Israel. The Pentium MMX Chip technology was designed at Intel in Israel. Both the Pentium 4 microprocessor and the Centrino processor were entirely designed, developed, and produced in Israel.

So if you have to turn off your computer now to avoid using war-criminal technology, and can't respond, I'll understand.

Gene

 
At December 31, 2005 3:56 pm, Blogger Siddhartha said...

Gene,

I don't see the equivalence of Pentium MMX technology, Pentium 4, Centrino or indeed other R&D efforts of Intel and "War criminal technology"? Do you see them as the same?
Will you be suggesting to us to avoid using non-stick frying pans because they were developed by, say, Teflon in Israel?

Secondly, if a country were to boycott Israeli products, surely they'd start with military-class weapons developed by Israeli Companies and not Intel PCs and Frying pans.

 
At December 31, 2005 4:15 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see the equivalence of Pentium MMX technology, Pentium 4, Centrino or indeed other R&D efforts of Intel and "War criminal technology"? Do you see them as the same?
Will you be suggesting to us to avoid using non-stick frying pans because they were developed by, say, Teflon in Israel?

No to both questions. So can we agreee that the Norwegian county council's boycott of Israeli products is a stupid idea?

Gene

 
At December 31, 2005 6:02 pm, Blogger Siddhartha said...

So can we agreee that the Norwegian county council's boycott of Israeli products is a stupid idea?

I think you've misunderstood my point. You seem unable or unwilling to recognise the difference between Intel Pentium chips and military-grade weapons.

We're both agreed that countries may need to be boycotted. You have sent a link to the fafo website, to justify the boycott of Burmese goods.

Israel is guilty of crimes against humanity and it produces military-grade weaponry which should be the first on the list of products to boycott if a country, such as Norway, chooses to do so.

 
At December 31, 2005 6:23 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you're saying the county in Norway should boycott military goods from Israel, but it's OK for them to buy computers with Israeli-designed parts? How about non-military oranges or grapefruits?

 
At December 31, 2005 6:26 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The above comment was from me, BTW.

Gene

 
At December 31, 2005 6:36 pm, Blogger Siddhartha said...

Gene,

If Norway boycotts Israeli products, military-grade weapons developed by Israeli Companies ought to be the on top of that list.

Note that you said that you'd start with Burmese timber if Norway were to boycott Burmese goods. We all agree that Burmese mangoes or prawns could also be boycotted.

 
At December 31, 2005 6:40 pm, Blogger Siddhartha said...

Sorry, that sentence should have said 'mangos' and 'prawns' of course.

Siddhartha

 
At December 31, 2005 7:58 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we're talking past each other, but best wishes for the new year.

Gene

 
At February 24, 2006 12:09 pm, Blogger Diganta said...

Anyway, I didn't understand what's wrong with India if it decides to keep away economic migrants. All of the first world nations keeps away from third world economic migrants, using many harsh laws.

 

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