Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sharon Truly Did Represent Israel

I like Thomas Friedman. When I read his book, That Used To Be Us, I was ready to nominate him for president.  However, when it comes to anything critical of Israel, he struggles. Thomas Friedman recently referred to Arial Sharon as representing the stages of Israel.[1]  I think he is right about Sharon representing the mindset of Israel, I just don’t see the progression Friedman seems to suggest in his opinion piece.

Sharon was a “warrior” for what Friedman calls:

the enduring struggle for survival ... there is a Jewish state today because of hard men, like Ariel Sharon, who were ready to play by the local rules … and had contempt for those in Israel or abroad who he believed did not understand the kill or be killed nature of their neighborhood.

The results of Israel’s war of Independence left over 500 Palestinian villages totally destroyed, 750,000 driven from their homes and crowded into refugee camps to live more like caged animals than as fellow human beings for the rest of their lives. Ariel Sharon was the heart of Israel. I am surprised that Friedman is willing to admit it.

When Palestinian farmers, still clutching land deeds and holding keys to their homes, were forced to live on about 11 cents a day, slipped back into the new State of Israel to “steal” a little of the crops they themselves had planted, Sharon called them thieves and drove them back by force. When a Jewish mother and her two children were killed, Sharon was called upon to retaliate.

As commander of Unit 101, a newly formed reprisal and sabotage group, this “warrior without restraints,” ordered his men to cause maximum damage to the village of Qibia. With great pride, these defenders of Israel locked frightened Palestinians in their homes and massacred sixty-nine, mostly women and children, to teach them a lesson about Israel.

During his second stage, in which Friedman said Sharon, “embodied a fantasy that, with enough power, the Israelis could rid themselves of the Palestinian threat, that they could have it all.”  Sharon proudly announced his plans:

                We’ll make a pastrami sandwich of them. We’ll insert a strip of Jewish settlement,
                in between the Palestinians, and then another strip of Jewish settlements, right across the
                West Bank, so that in 25 years’ time, neither the United Nations, nor the United States,
                nobody, will be able to tear it apart.[2]
Twenty five years later he was still saying:

              Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements
              because everything we take now will be ours. Everything we don’t grab will go to them. [3]
Sharon vigorously expanded the settlements enterprise on Palestinian land, invaded Lebanon and was responsible for the massacre of as many as 2,000 helpless refugees, again, mostly women and children, in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, with countless others raped and brutalized.   

Perhaps I am being unfair. Prime Minister Sharon did pull the Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip, which was proclaimed as a great sacrifice by Israel for peace. However, Friedman fails to mention that at the same time, Israel was building 13,000 units for Jews only on Palestinian land in the West Bank, and those moving from Gaza were offered $227,000 to relocate. Palestinians driven from their homes in 1948 and 1967 were given no compensation for the lives and land taken from them by force. Sharon’s disengagement was hardly a liberation. It’s hard to feel liberated when surrounded by a hostile army.  Israel maintained control of all crossing points, sea and air space. Gaza remained alive only as an outdoor prison.  Israel walled in Gaza, continued to control all access in and out of Gaza, cut off fuel, electricity and restricted the flow of humanitarian aid including medical supplies. Gaza may have been evacuated but remained under Sharon’s total control

I fail to see the evidence of a more peace minded Sharon as Friedman writes, “having, orchestrated a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza,  he (Sharon) surely would have tried something similar in the West Bank if he had not had a stroke.”  This is the man who, “ on the day that Rabin shook hands with Arafat, vowed that he would destroy the Oslo Peace process.”[4] 

And, if he did pull out of West Bank, what would be left?  A land checkered with Jewish only roads, checkpoints, walls and military regulations that keep Palestinians locked up in isolated bantustans.

But, what could you expect from a man  who, back in 1980, convened a meeting with some of his top generals and other top military and security people and had them sign a blood oath which committed them to fight to the death to prevent any government of Israel withdrawing from the West Bank.[5]

Friedman references a biography of Sharon entitled, “He doesn’t Stop at Red Lights.” I guess not. The cross street is packed with slow moving compacts and he is driving a tank. He goes to war when he is the only one with an army.

As far as I can tell, Sharon’s life remained dedicated to Zionism. He seemed to believe that Jews were God’s chosen people to be privileged above all others. To him, there were only two kinds of people: Jews and everybody else. He did not want a Jewish state, at least not one with all the restrictions imposed by the Hebrew prophets. He wanted a Zionist state.  I never saw evidence to indicate otherwise.  Friedman is right about one thing. Sharon truly did represent Israel.

Thomas Are
January 30, 2014

[1] The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 17, 2014. p. A-11.
[2] Max Blumenthal, How Ariel Sharon Shaped Israel’s Destiny, The Nation, January 11, 2014.
[3] Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of the Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.
[4] Alan Hart, Zionism, The Real Enemy of the Jews, (Clarity Press, Atlanta, 2009) Volume One., p. 40.
[5] Alan Hart, Zionism, The Real Enemy of the Jews, (Clarity Press, Atlanta, 2009) Volume Three., p. 228.

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