Are there "wall" lessons to be learned from Israel?

Photo of fencing and patrol, southeast of Nazareth, Israel near the border with Jerusalem (photo taken by Scott Thuman while on assignment in the Middle East)

WASHINGTON (SBG) - President Trump traveled to El Paso, Texas Monday to use the southern city as a rallying cry for more border security and barriers.

His supporters argue urgency, saying if apprehensions at the southwest border keep the current pace of this fiscal year, they’d be the highest since 2006 and 2007 when the government built large sections of the wall and sent thousands of National Guard Troops.

That’s, according to Customs and Border Protection statistics so far. Although, several years have seen large numbers of apprehensions in winter months but then a large decline later in the year.

People on both sides of the issue admit there’s no easy solution and some are looking for guidance based on what another country with a border controversy did: Israel.

There are large swaths of fencing, wall or border controls there and for different reasons in different locations: to curb illegal immigration and as a separation barrier in the fight with Palestinians.

“Yes, there had to be some convincing but the fact is that now that the wall has been built at the southern border, people are very happy,” said former mayor of Shiloh Israel, David Rubin.

When asked if he could advise the policy makers in Washington, he urged, a line familiar to many: “Build that wall.”

“That sounds very ‘Trumpian’” suggested correspondent Scott Thuman during a recent interview. “I know,” Rubin conceded. “But it’s true though. I say go forward and do what needs to be done and whatever it takes.”

Rubin, author of the book, ‘Trump and the Jews’, says Trump should force the issue. He says illegal immigration has almost completely stopped on the southern border where barriers are now separating Israel with Egypt.

“Just follow through on your policy and ignore the screaming from the bleachers.”

Democrats argue it’s hardly just screaming.

In January, soon to be Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi argued, “The fact is, a wall is an immorality.”

They call it a complicated and contradictory goal.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md), visited the border this weekend and talked of the dual goals: "Secure their border, making them safe, but also upholding Americans' values of saying to refugees and those who need asylum throughout the world that America is a place of refuge.”

The arguing in Washington is one Israel heard too: allegations of racism and discrimination. Rubin believes the U.S. can learn plenty from Israel’s experience.

For example, tunnels have beaten the system there too. Rubin says where new barrier sections are to be installed, they’ll install it much deeper into the ground.

He also contends that technology, like sensors and drones, help but aren’t a sure thing.

“You can do it but not as effectively. We’re living in a high-tech society, and even that, even the physical barrier and the high tech, you’re still going to have some challenges.”
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