Western governments have long criticized Israel for isolating the West Bank and Gaza Strip and for walling itself off from the Palestinians, but parts of Iraq under U.S. control are starting to resemble these areas. Is it possible for the West and the Middle East to coexist without a wall?

The town of Awja, outside Tikrit, the place where Saddam Hussein grew up that still contains many people who are loyal to him, has been surrounded by razor wire and its entrance is guarded by soldiers with machine guns. Just like the Israelis, we are trying to contain the guerillas and suicide bombers who are attacking troops and civilians and just like Israel, we don?t always succeed. One Iraqi policeman says, “Hey, this is just like Gaza, isn’t it?”

“We were asleep,” says shopkeeper Mohammed Shakr al-Nassiri. “We did hear some work going on during the night. When we got up, we found all this barbed wire around us. We don’t understand the point of it. Why us? There’s been resistance all over Iraq.”

Just like in Israel, “surprise” raids are being conducted in Iraq and reports vary about whether U.S. soldiers are killing and capturing insurgents or innocent civilians. And being walled-off may actually turn former civilians into fighters. Another policeman says, “It will make the resistance stronger. Even those who did not fight when the Americans came to Iraq are being pushed to join the resistance.” This has certainly happened in Palestine, but while soldiers and civilians are still being killed, no one?in Iraq or Israel?can find any alternative.

It would be a lot easier to think clearly about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if it wasn’t for suicide bombers?civilians (usually in their 20s) who have been recruited to blow themselves up in order to kill other civilians, in the name of religion. Now Hamas has spread this particularly hateful brand of aggression to Iraq, where they’re killing our soldiers. Who are these people who can be brainwashed into giving up their entire futures this way?

Shaul Kimhi and Shmuel Even studied 250 Palestinian suicide bombers who have been responsible for attacks in Israel since 1993, and made the surprising discovery they were more highly educated than most Palestinians. 33% of them were university students or graduates and 40% were high school graduates. This means there isn’t much hope that reasoned discussions will stop them.

How did we get into this mess, anyway? Get Jim Marr’s provocative answer to that question?now back in stock!

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