The security fence is a valuable laboratory test case from which we Yanks can learn.I recently spent 10 days in Israel at the expense of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Styled an Academic Fellowship on Terrorism, this ‘paid vacation’ featured an up-close-and-personal peek at how the Jewish state deals with terrorists, a topic of no small interest to us Americans since 9/11.

Parallels between our two countries are a little hard to find, however, Israel is about as big as New Jersey or perhaps Vermont, plus or minus some parts of New Hampshire. The beleaguered nation, surrounded by enemies armed to the teeth, somehow manages to remain a democracy.

I doubt we Americans are ready to open our purses and packages for inspection every time we enter a mall or restaurant. Universal military service is not even on our federal agenda for discussion.

One parallel did catch my eye, rolls of razor wire running parallel to a fence along the so-called West Bank of the Jordan. Similarly, Uncle Sam has started a fence along our border with Mexico.

Our FDD contingent, 45 professors strong, visited Israel’s largest Arab city, some few miles from the fence. At the town hall, the city manager gave us a little talk, then opened himself up to our questions.

Of Arab descent but Israel-born, the 50-something ‘mayor’ allowed as how he likes that fence. The barrier, which bears signs warning of ‘mortal danger’ if you climb it, has reduced illegal immigration of Palestinians to his town substantially, he says. The small city’s unemployment rate approaches 30 percent. He blames much of it on illegals who marry local Israeli-Arab girls and then either scarf up scarce jobs or add themselves directly to the unemployment rolls. Either way, he contends, they deplete scarce economic resources.

Born, raised and educated in Israel, this Arab official worries about where his children are headed. His son, he says, is pro-Palestinian. Were this worried parent an African-American, his son might label him an ‘Uncle Tom’. However, he, himself, would choose to be a Palestinian citizen if a democratic Palestine becomes a real possibility.

I don’t know if Mexican-Americans along the Rio Grande and in San Antonio and El Paso and San Diego share any of this Arab city manager’s ambivalence about their futures and those of their children. I would not be surprised to discover that at least some are eager for the US to staunch the flow of illegals into their borderland towns and cities.

Like the Arab city manager, other Israeli officials report a decrease in cross-border incursions by would-be-bombers and other illegals, thanks they believe to their fence.

The border fence, an innovation that will not in any way impact the rights or lifestyles of US citizens, may be an initiative for which the Israeli experiment is a valuable laboratory test case from which we Yanks can learn.

(Reprinted from the News of Delaware County)