PARIS — Walls designed to keep people in or out — whether they are in Berlin, Nicosia, Israel or Korea — are always the product of fear: East German leaders’ fear of a mass exodus by their citizens seeking freedom and dignity; Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders’ fear of continued war; Israelis’ fear of terrorism; or the North Korean leadership’s fear of “abandonment” by their martyred people.

To freeze a fragile status quo, to consolidate one’s position or to remain separate from others perceived as temptations or threats (or both) — such have always been the goals of politicians who build walls.

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