South side of the United States-Mexico border wall in Progreso Lakes, Texas. Photo by Rebajae, from Wikimedia Commons

By Larry Gordon

Many years ago, when Ariel Sharon was prime minister of Israel and terror attacks were on the rise, I took a tour of the periphery of Jerusalem with diagrams in tow that illustrated where walls — 30-foot high walls — would be built as a clear and practical approach to erecting barriers against terror.

By Larry Gordon

At the time, these were huge slabs of concrete lying horizontally on the ground, stacked up one on top of the other, awaiting construction crews that were busy digging trenches that would house the base of these protection devices.

It seemed like a long-term experiment that would hopefully work, stopping those bent on violence and destruction from easily traversing the border into Jerusalem to detonate bombs that would kill or injure innocents.

“Walls don’t work,” says Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the disappointing senator from New York. When Schumer says those words — as he has repeatedly over the last few weeks — that assertion is inevitably refuted.

“The wall seems to be very effective in Israel,” is the consistent refrain from defenders of Mr. Trump’s persistent and determined effort to get Congress to pass legislation that allocates $5 billion for the construction of just such a defensive structure on our southern border.

So here we have before us a knockdown, drag-out battle between the White House and Congressional Democrats, a political game of chicken that has created the shutdown of the federal government and is a contributing factor to the current stock market freefall.

While these situations will ultimately be resolved, supporters of Israel and the Jewish community overall have to be wondering how Jews and Israel inevitably get dragged into the fray.

You can rest assured that before a wall was built around Jerusalem and before a tall stone wall was erected between Israel and Egypt to block illegal entry, there were many people in both the United States and Israel opposed to the idea of a wall for a variety of reasons.

Here, the Democrats’ opposition to the wall being built between the United States.and Mexico is far different than the rationale behind that which was built to protect the state of Israel. The reason why they are compared so frequently is because the wall in Israel works — and the hope is that if the wall is ever constructed on the southern border here, it will be just as effective for the United States.

Democrats were in favor of building just such a wall only a few years ago. However, once the wall became the signature campaign promise of Mr. Trump, Democrats had to rearrange their position and to do everything they could to oppose the construction of a border wall.

While the motivations might be different, there are also quite a few similarities between the Israeli wall and the proposed U.S. wall. The main objective of both is, as the president has said numerous times, to keep bad people out. That is fairly straightforward and simple. Since the Israeli wall was built some 15 or so years ago, terrorist infiltration into Jerusalem has been nearly eliminated. Of course there are still weaknesses in the system, with the matter of Arab residents of Jerusalem who use their legal residency for the purposes of perpetrating terror.

On the Egyptian front, however, where there was a porous border that allowed immigrants from Africa — mostly Eritrea and Sudan — to take up illegal residence in Israel. According to statistics published by Israel’s Ministry of the Interior, 17,000 African immigrants entered the state illegally in 2011. In 2013, after the completion of the wall, the number fell to a mere 43. Today, Israel is in the process of slowly deporting thousands of Eritreans who have changed the demographic face of South Tel Aviv now crowded with these illegal residents.

Democrats such as Sen. Schumer and Congresswoman Pelosi were in favor of border security and a crackdown on illegal immigration as long as Barack Obama was president. Once more intense security at the border became a Republican policy matter, their response was to oppose anything that inhibits the flow of illegals into this country.

You do not need expert studies to understand that for the purpose intended by Mr. Trump there is really nothing that is more effective than a large, high, concrete wall. And you do not have to travel to Texas or the Israel–Egypt border to observe its effectiveness of stemming the flow of unwanted and sometimes dangerous people.

If you really want to understand how these walls work and how they achieve their objective, just take a ride up or down the Long Island Expressway. For tens of miles, except for the locations where there are exits that allow you to leave the highway, there are large and even attractive-looking high stone walls that have significantly inhibited if not completely eliminated the crossing of the highway by people who live in the area and for one reason or another had the need to be on the other side of the LIE.

Cars drive at very high speeds on the LIE and no one should be attempting to cross a multilane highway as cars speed from multiple directions, creating a recipe for disaster and awful automobile accidents.

Years ago, there were no walls at the side of this expressway. Most people dared not cross such a dangerous roadway as they were clearly taking their lives into their hands. Still, there were people who did exactly that and there were terrible casualties. Now, with these walls extending all the way up the LIE, the opportunity to cross has been eliminated and there are no such accidents and unnecessary deaths.

It is not a complicated equation. If you cannot penetrate the wall — and most people cannot — the wall is doing its job and keeping illegals out. I do not want to say that the Democrats are in favor of creating chaos, but that is precisely the way it looks today when viewing the contentious issue that building that wall has become.

And no, you cannot hang any guilt about this issue on American Jews whose parents and grandparents came here as immigrants. They came here through painstaking and laborious efforts that were legal and by the book. Sometimes the wait was long, dangerous, and seemingly impossible, but they came to the U.S. and became productive American citizens. In 2017, a total of 707,265 people become naturalized U.S. citizens.

So let’s cut out the silly rhetoric that preys on the ignorance of the multitudes that are not familiar with the issues and allow Sen. Schumer and Rep. Pelosi to claim that Mr. Trump is racist because he does not want to allow Central Americans into the United States. It is just not true. Let’s not forget the claim from Republicans that we are busy building walls to protect other countries, like Israel, but not concerned about using that same approach to protect the borders and integrity of the United States.

Democrats must come to grips with reality and stop employing misleading rhetoric. It’s time to do the right thing and provide the needed funding to build that wall. 

Read more of Larry Gordon’s articles at 5TJT.com. Follow 5 Towns Jewish Times on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates and live videos. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome at 5TJT.com and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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