Trump looks to Israel as a model for his wall, but trying to recreate the West Bank barrier on the US-Mexico border is both infeasible and dangerous.
“Build the Wall! Build the Wall!”
For more than a year, this chant, repeated at dozens of rallies across the country, has become the fundamental promise of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. While his other policy proposals may come and go, sometimes on the same day, Trump has steadfastly promoted the idea that erecting a “big, beautiful” wall along the border with Mexico—and forcing Mexico to pay for it—will help cure all manner of our country’s ills, from stagnant wages and overburdened public services to violent crime and Islamic terrorism.
Though Trump doesn’t offer much in the way of specifics about his wall, his inspiration for it is quite clear -- the imposing, 25-foot-high concrete and razor wire “separation barrier” that Israel has built through the occupied West Bank. “People say you can’t really do that,” Trump told a New Hampshire audience in September 2015. “You ask Israel whether a wall works. A wall properly done, a Trump wall works.” Challenged at a Republican debate in November, Trump once again invoked Israel: “If you don’t think walls work, all you have to do is ask Israel.”
Ready and willing to reciprocate Trump’s praise is the Israeli border security industry that built those border walls and fences. “The Israeli Company That Fenced in Gaza Eyes Trump’s Mexico Wall,” a Bloomberg headline last month declared. The story profiled Magal Security Systems, an Israeli defense firm that has played an integral role in securing 80 percent of that country’s borders and is currently modernizing the border fence around Gaza. In the story, Magal’s CEO, Saar Koursh, offered up his unsolicited border security assistance to Trump should he be elected. “We’ve done it in the past and we would definitely want to do it,” he said.
But Trump’s wall is an optical illusion sustained by voters’ fear of narcotics traffickers and Islamic terrorists breaching America’s southern border. As an engineering project, its costs could exceed the administration’s budget request for the entire Department of Homeland Security; and as a means of curbing illegal immigration, it would likely create more problems than it solves. Even the Israeli companies that want to build the wall admit that.