Hillary Clinton said that it is O.K. to ban Muslims from Israel by building a WALL, but not O.K. to do so in the U.S. We must be vigilant!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2016
Following Trump’s logic and his imperative of vigilance, it sounds as though the world — just to be safe — can’t have too many walls.
If, as seems increasingly likely, the presidential election in the U.S. ends up being a contest between Trump and Clinton, it’s possible that Trump just defined the battle line in a useful way.
He obviously wants to use Israel’s wall to justify his own wall plans and he’s assuming that Clinton’s ties to Israel mean she wouldn’t dare question their security measures.
Nevertheless, Israel’s wall has symbolic significance that stretches far beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Ever since the end of the Cold War, there has been a broad consensus that the breakdown of divisions around the world has inherent value and the creation of divisions causes trouble.
While the value of this principle has most often been measured in economic terms and the rewards concentrated in the hands of powerful corporations, the human desire for people to be able to connect seems far greater than the need to stand apart.
Those who want to wall themselves in so they can keep others out are in a minority that perceives itself as embattled.
The walls supposedly designed to make people feel safe also solidify their fears.
The wall is both a metaphor and a literal expression of the conflict between inclusion and exclusion.
Have we reached a point in history where we must now reverse tracks and head back into the past — into a world defined by its rigid divisions? Would not such a world be anything less than a retreat from humanity?
No doubt, in a debate, Clinton would skirt around Israel’s wall — perhaps just by reiterating the official line that it is a temporary measure — but she could not pick a better theme around which to shape her campaign than by presenting herself as someone dedicated to breaking down divisions versus an opponent who is actively divisive.
Am I indulging in an internationalist liberal fantasy?
Perhaps. But however deeply entrenched divisiveness has become, unless we quickly learn how to shake it off, our common fate will be ruin.