Jonah Goldberg
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Neither have they condemned the "peace lines" the British put up in Belfast to curb bloodshed on both sides. The British newspaper, The Telegraph, grasping the Orwellian distortion behind the Berlin Wall rhetoric recently editorialized: "It is often said that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. By extension, is not one man's 'Berlin Wall' another man's 'peace line'?"

Well, that's half right. While it may be true that one man's terrorist is sometimes another man's freedom fighter, that doesn't mean the second man is necessarily right. Sometimes so-called terrorists are actually freedom fighters, but sometimes a terrorist is just a terrorist.

Saying that the definition of a terrorist is always dependent on perspective means that anybody who blows up innocent people can be noble just by saying so. Similarly, just because some people say that the new Israeli barrier is a Berlin Wall doesn't mean it's true.

I don't love the idea of a wall either. But it's the last resort of a nation besieged. The wall's defenders say it will alleviate the stress caused by Israeli checkpoints within the West Bank and that it may even convince the Palestinians that violence is futile.

I won't hold my breath.

But the fact remains that whether you call terrorists "freedom fighters," "martyrs" or "accountants," a state has the right to defend its citizens from foreigners who blow up its people. And if, to that end, you build a barrier some people foolishly call a Berlin Wall, well, that's a small price to pay.

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Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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