The Head Heeb comments on an article in the Forward, and a related one in Ha'aretz, that seems to indicate that the Separation Barrier is working out well for Palestinians and Israelis in and around Jenin and Umm al-Fahm.
In seemingly unrelated news, it may appear that "insurgent" hostage taking in Fullajah and elsewhere in Iraq has so unnerved the coalition that debka.com characterizes recent events as "devastating setbacks."
Can we draw a line between these two dots?
Coalition forces are doing what the IDF have done for several years now: engage and fight the enemy on his home turf, where civilians, as it were, are at best indifferent and at worst hostile to the anti-terror campaign.
The separation barrier constitutes a different strategy in that it facilitates what Jonathan calls "conflict management" - a way to minimize, if not eliminate the kinds of incidents that cause further violence, while also reducing the hardship on Arabs of checkpoints, incursions, military patrols, raids, etc. Malcolm Gladwell may also point out that in reducing car thefts and other lawlessness across the green line and further discourage discord.
Jonathan cites a warning from the Forward and makes a further point.
The warning is that in and around Jenin, the separation barrier follows (more or less) the green line, i.e., the 1949 armistice line between Israel and Jordan. In other areas, Arabs find that the separation barrier cuts into their lives in ways that may add fuel to their resentment. Whether this breeds more terrorism is debatable, but it certainly won't convince those affected Arabs that the barrier is a good thing for them.
Jonathan's further point is that the emergence of peace in and around Jenin effectively deals a swipe to the extreme arguments on both sides of the debate. The far left can no longer say that the barrier is an "apartheid wall," and the far right can no longer claim that Palestinians only are interested in killing Jews.
What can the coalition learn from this, if anything?
First and foremost that self-rule and self-determination is important to Arabs, as it indeed is to any people on this green earth. Åsne Seierstad's newest book, "101 Days" (not yet out in English), testifies about the ambivalence Iraqis had toward the US invasion. They were glad to be rid of Saddam, grateful that the coalition came through, but saddened and often enraged that their country now is under foreign rule.
What Israel is doing with the separation barrier is establishing clear rules, and drawing a line in the sand as it were. Jenin can prosper as an Arab community as long as its means don't include hostile action toward Israel.
I'm not sure how this would work in Iraq, but it seems that the coalition in pushing for a ceasefire acknowledges that there is a counterparty to negotiate with, not just kill. This acknowledgment is risky, as Israel's experience with unrepentant terrorist Arafat and his organization Fatah will prove. But there may be something there about encouraging and rewarding responsible self-rule at a local level. But key to this is that there is a sharp distinction between negotiating with terrorists (which should never happen) and allowing for dissent and even opposition (which is certainly understandable, perhaps unavoidable.)
I'm not sure, but there may be something there.