UPDATE: By Eyal Press
On the letters page of yesterday's New York Times, a reader from Haifa asked Americans to consider what their government would do if a terrorist organization in Mexico started launching missiles at Texas. "How long do you think the United States would tolerate having rockets fired at Americans in El Paso?"
If you've heard this question raised elsewhere lately, it's no accident. According to Akiva Eldar, chief political columnist for Haaretz and coauthor of Lords of the Land, an important new history of the settlement project, a film has actually been produced that compares Israel's southern border to that of the United States. "Would the United States ignore rockets fired from Mexico into San Diego?" the narrator asks.
What's wrong with this analogy? I defer to Eldar, who points out that Israel's border with Gaza is actually different than any other border in the world, notwithstanding its withdrawal from the territory in 2005:
Israel controls the entrances and exits, as well as access to necessities such as power and water. Mexico has not spent the last three or more years under an American aerial and sea blockade. Moreover, Israel's impressive victory in the Six-Day War turned the West Bank and Gaza into one ethnic unit. In the peace agreement signed by Egypt and Israel in 1979, the Gaza Strip remained in Israel's hands. The Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians, signed in September 1993, determined that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are one political entity. This means that as long as the West Bank is under Israeli occupation, so too is Gaza.
None of this justifies the conduct of Hamas, which Eldar (like me) would love to see removed from power. But he recognizes that this can only happen through the ballet box, and that analogies to the borders of other countries will prove persuasive only when Israel demarcates permanent borders with the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In other words, after negotations resume to end the occupation.