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Israel, the fortress

When Israel completes the construction of its eastern fence, it could finally declare itself a well-fortified stronghold in the heart of the Middle Eastern jungle.
An Israeli worker repairs a fence damaged by a tank in Kibbutz Nahal Oz , just outside the northern Gaza Strip, September 3, 2014. Israelis living on the Gaza border have warily returned home after fleeing constant mortar and rocket fire during a seven-week war, feeling it is just a matter of time before their villages are targeted again. Picture taken September 3, 2014. REUTERS/Amir Cohen (ISRAEL - Tags: POLITICS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY CONFLICT) - RTR44YGI

Knesset member Isaac Herzog, head of the Israeli opposition, never imagined the furor that would result from comments he made during an interview in Tel Aviv on Sept. 5. Herzog called on Israel to absorb Syrian refugees, saying, “I spoke with a senior member of the Syrian opposition, now in exile in Europe. The Syrian opposition has very harsh claims about what is happening around the world today. … Jews cannot be apathetic when hundreds of thousands of refugees are searching for safe haven.”

Herzog’s remarks spread quickly and evoked fierce responses. Almost all of the Likud’s ministers attacked him sharply for his comments. Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu jumped into the fray by portraying Herzog as having no commitment to Israel’s security, integrity or Jewish character. At the start of last Sunday’s Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu declared, “Israel is a small country, a very small country, that lacks demographic and geographic depth; therefore, we must control our borders against both illegal migrants and terrorism.”

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