The great Greek philosopher consequently maintained that society helps the criminal by imposing upon him or her a penalty, since the punishment serves to cleanse the soul and thus allows the lawbreaker to live a more just life. Accordingly, courts of law that mete out sentences — insofar as they follow universal principles of justice — not only protect society from offenders, but also save offenders from themselves.
It is precisely in the context of Socratesâ€™ teachings that Sharonâ€™s government and United Nations Security Council should understand the ruling regarding
Letâ€™s begin with the facts. The so-called separation barrier is made up of a series of fences, trenches, walls, and patrol roads, which are not constructed on the internationally recognized border between
The length of the proposed barrier, which winds around Jewish settlements and surrounds Palestinian villages, transforming them, as it were, into islands, is about 650 km — more than twice the length of the international border. It often runs in between Palestinian communities, thus undermining the argument that the barrier is being built to separate Israelis from Palestinians and in this way to ensure the security of the former.
Rather, the barrier is being employed as a mechanism to expropriate Palestinian land and create facts on the ground that will affect any future arrangement between
In its ruling the ICJ made clear that the barrierâ€™s repercussions on basic rights are appalling. According to the ICJ, â€œthe wall, along the route chosen, and its associated regime, gravely infringe a number of rights of Palestinians residing in the territory occupied by
Thus, the ICJ recognized that the separation barrier, which was ostensibly built to satisfy security needs, is being used as an extremely efficient weapon of dispossession. It took into account that over 875,000 Palestinians will be directly affected by the barrier, amounting to 38 percent of the
While the Court did not say as much, its ruling also suggests that there is a qualitative difference between a barrier whose function is to demarcate a border between two countries, and a barrier used to create a prison.
Yet, the ICJâ€™s ruling not only aims to protect the Palestinians from collective punishment, but also hopes to protect
While the Courtâ€™s ruling has no claws, it should be understood as an opportunity. The
Neve Gordon is a member of Taâ€™ayush, Arab-Jewish Partnership and is editor of From the Margins of Globalization: Critical Perspectives on Human Rights (forthcoming Rowman and Littlefield). He can be reached at [email protected]