Guardian evokes analogy between Israel’s security fence and Soviet Iron Curtain

Of all the faulty political analogies used over the years by Guardian contributors to demonise Israel, an interview with acclaimed photographer Josef Koudelka, published on Dec. 24 (“Barriers, barbed wire and borders in the head: Josef Koudelka’s Holy Land”) evokes one that’s among the most historically illiterate we’ve come across.

The analogy is evoked early in the piece, when readers are told that the photographer grew up behind the Iron Curtain, in Czechoslovakia. And, it later adds:

Koudelka found himself deeply interested in the barrier built by Israel in the West Bank, which struck a chord because of his own experience of living behind the iron curtain.

Later, we’re told that Koudlka refused suggestions of who to meet to gain some knowledge about the region and the history of, and reasons for, the security fence, preferring instead to discover it “on his own terms”.

“When they offered me to meet a rabbi, some historians, and others, I told them, ‘Thank you, but no. I have this experience from Czechoslovakia. First of all I want to see by myself, and get to my knowledge through my eyes.”

The ignorance of such an analogy is almost incomprehensible.

Though the term “Iron Curtain”, symbolising the totalitarian Soviet Union’s efforts to block itself and its satellite states from contact with the democratic West, was popularized by Winston Churchill’s 1946 speech, it also refers to actual physical fences, such as the ones between Czechoslovakia and liberal Western European countries like West Germany and Austria.

A preserved fence with watchtower near Čížov (2009). Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons.

Of course, these Cold War fences were largely designed to prevent citizens of Easter Bloc countries from escaping to freedom in the West, whilst Israel’s fence was designed to prevent Palestinian terrorists outside their borders from crossing into the country to murder civilians.

In short: Soviet Bloc countries’ fences kept their own citizens from leaving. Israel’s fence keeps hostile non-citizens from entering. Any suggestion that both of these measures are morally or politically analogous is simply absurd. 

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8 replies »

  1. How long has it been since the Palestinians held elections, anyway, speaking of totalitarians and
    their norms.

  2. The Brits will do anything to demonize and belittle Israel and Jews in general. We keep forgetting their disdain to our nation even long after WWII. They see us as not worthy.

    I would stop worrying about how the Brits (and all others) feel about us and start worrying about how to eradicate our self-hatred. We need to unite and spit out the self-hatred cancer we have within us.

    Genetic Jews those who are without any affinity, sympathy or bond to our nation are our worse enemy. They are within us and can cause the greatest harm.

    Many of them are part of this hatred and demonizing campaign. They seek the protection and the affection of the world nations and will do anything to be accepted and liked. Those fools will always be seen as less and not worthy in the eyes of the world but they are too dumb to realize that.

    • Oh how little you know about us Brits despite your broad and frankly insulting generalisation, the majority of Brits don’t have an opinion on Israel or Jews let alone be bothered to demonize or belittle them. You like many others are guilty of education by media and political outlet, you think that the noisy and ignorant minority speak for all of us when nothing is further from the truth, maybe temper your own biases before making such sweeping statements, by the way, the poor us commentary gets rather wearing to those on the outside.

      • Maybe you’re right that most Brits don’t have opinions on Israel or Jews. Nevertheless, as Brigitte Gabriel has very astutely pointed out, if the majority is apathetic, then it is irrelevant and the minority you mention that exerts the power. Atrocities have abounded due to the apathy of the majority e.g., Germany.

  3. The Guardian newspaper is already pre programmed to promote hostility to the state of Israel This hostility is in its DNA
    Israel is damned if it does and damned if doesn’t The Guardians correspondents
    Don’t give a monkeys as to whether their reports are true and accurate They are paid to give damning reports about Israel
    And this journal spreads lies and dis-information so indirectly promoting violent
    Attacks on Israeli citizens
    Anti Semitism is becoming dangerous both here and abroad I see papers like the Guardian
    Indirectly giving Jew haters sustenance
    The Guardian is just one cog in the world wide
    Octopus spreading its tentacles of hate around the world The left has lost it way its way And it seems this paper is sending out begging
    Messages to its readers
    I won’t contribute a penny
    Let it go bust I won’t shed any tears

  4. As a former photographer and as someone who grew up in West Berlin I can only voice my horror about Koudelka’s work. I saw this exibition at the C/O Gallery in Berlin. They had huge black and white prints on the walls, some were four meters long and a few tall. He had concentrated in making the seperation barrier look terrible using wide angle lenses to distort it and make it look menacing. Never a word about the 1000 murdered Israeli’s which preceded its construction.