The wall and the fence separating Israel from the West Bank were built to protect Israeli citizens from snipers and suicide bombers, coming from Palestinian cities, in the early 2000's. Most of the divide is actually a chain-link fence, but in highly populated areas, there's a wall that is 10 feet to 24 feet high. We visited the 24-foot wall dividing the neighborhoods that are close enough to shoot at each other. We visited one neighborhood in Israel right near Bethlehem where every single house had bulletproof windows because sniper shots were fired so often that no one could live there for a season. Today the walls stand as a more than physical divide between Palestinians and Israelis. The two cultures don’t connect anymore. Before the bombing and sniping, citizens could freely move between Palestinian cities and Israeli cities, but now they must have special permission to leave Palestine to work in Israel and Israelis may not enter certain areas without a special license. There are certain people that want “from the river to the sea.” They want all the land or nothing. They both have legitimate claims to the land in their minds and that is why these lands are called disputed lands.
This land has been disputed for thousands of years and this wall is the culmination of the last 136 years of Jewish migration back into Israel from their exile 2,000 years ago. I have had a chance to hear from multiple people with multiple perspectives; from a Palestinian Christian, a Palestinian Muslim, a Palestinian Israeli citizen, a Jewish rabbi, a secular Jew, and a hotel clerk who has family living in both Palestine and Israel. What they all say they want is peace. They want their children to play together again, to speak one another's language, to understand each other's culture, but they don’t see a way to make that happen. There is no way to fully explain the complexities of the Arab, Palestinian, and Jewish claims to the land in a short devotion. It would be similar to explaining the racial and political problems in the U.S. but instead of 200 years of disputes, we would need to cover 4000 years of disputes. These disputes make me ask the question: