Israel is refusing to allow seven Fulbright scholars to leave Gaza, resulting in the cancellation of their scholarships. This seems, to put it mildly, somewhat at odds with Israel's state goal of supporting moderates in Gaza. The students are not terrorists, or suspected of being connected to terrorists; Israel is just refusing to let anyone cross the border except for medical reasons*.

Israel has legitimate security concerns which the fence has allayed; terrorists have switched from deadly suicide bombings to largely inaccurate missile and mortar attacks that rarely kill anyone. But it is also turning Gaza into an open air prison, and crushing any chance for the moderation we would all like to see. Whether you think the US government's foreign policy sins were monstrous or negligible, 9/11 probably didn't make you think "They can get us! We should change to accomodate them!". Probably, like me, you thought "Time to unleash some righteous whoop-ass". The Palestinians feel the same way, which is not surprising, since there are very few novel human emotions. Gratuitous exercises of raw power, like preventing a few Fulbright scholars from going to the US, are not going to put any meaningful pressure on the Palestinians. But it is going to make them even madder and more convinced that Israelis are bastards who can't be trusted.

* For those who keep asking why Egypt doesn't let them out through their border, Israel has ringfenced the entire Gaza strip with walls that it controls and monitors. As I understand it, there is basically one pedestrian border crossing to Egypt, Rafah, which is run by an international mission called EUBAM, but EUBAM gets access to the Rafah crossing through the Kerem Shalom crossing point which Israel controls, so when Kerem Shalom is closed--as it is--so is Rafah.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to