First there was the West Bank wall, then the Gaza wall, then the Israeli-Egyptian wall in Sinai — and now the Egyptian government is building a wall outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo to protect it from protests.
It may be a necessary thing — all countries have a responsibility to protect foreign missions in their territory. But, at a time of renewed indignation over the deaths of Egyptian border guards in the context of Turkey’s downgrading of relations with Israel, it certainly sends a weird message.
There are those, notably in Israel, who will no doubt regret that it has come to this: Israeli diplomats being protected from an angry Egyptian population that is now as anti-Israeli as anytime since the two countries were at war. They should face the reality: this anger does just stem from the shootings, it also comes the fury at their own government’s inaction (or connivence) over the Gaza war, the Lebanon war, the ever-expanding settlements in the last three decades.
Certainly, as El Amrani points out the anger of the Egyptian population is, at least in part, coming from decades of Egyptian complicity in any number of what many see as unjust Israeli policies. But a lot of this indignation is rooted in the Israeli policies themselves. Israel has torpedoed its relationship with its closest Muslim ally (Turkey) by its actions on the aid flotilla last year; been rebuked by Britain, Australia, Germany, France – the EU in fact – for forging passports to use in the targeted assassination in Dubai last year; and even crossed the United States for its settlement policies. The diplomatic and increasingly physical isolation of Israel has a lot to do with the domestic frustrations of foreign populations (see El Amrani’s point), but let’s not mistake this proliferation of walls for some type of antisemitism or unwarranted anti-Israel bias.
There are reasons why Israel has found it necessary to build walls around itself. While some of these reasons are rooted in racism and the domestic frustrations of others, this isolation is greatly self-imposed by the pursuit of policies and goals that unnecessarily insult and degrade Israel’s neighbor’s and allies.
Photo from The Arabist