Friday, January 06, 2006

The obvious truth about Ariel Sharon 

It's sad when anyone dies, especially for the members of his family. But it's repulsive when the death becomes an occasion for lies and sentimental idealizations that are the opposite of a truthful reckoning with that person's life.

So of course I've been nauseated by the constant headlines about Israel's love and support for Ariel Sharon, about the "nation's vigil," etc. Plenty of Israelis know the truth about the man: that he was a cruel and vicious killer and a destroyer of the state of Israel. The fact that every single mainstream news publication in the United States takes it for granted that he was pursuing peace--this just shows how irretrievably fucked is the current situation in the Middle East.

That Ariel Sharon was a vicious killer is simply not up for argument. The Israeli government itself held Sharon "personally responsible" for the 1982 massacre of 2,000 Palestinian refugees at Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon (the futile and aggressive invasion of which had also been orchestrated by Sharon). He ordered his troops to stay out of the camps and to let Phalangist terrorists into the camps--knowing exactly what they were doing; and he had his men light the area with flares so that the Phalanges could perpetrate the slaughter. All of this is known and not forgotten, in Israel or anywhere else in the Middle East.

That Ariel Sharon was not "a man of peace" is also obvious to those who wish to know it. He was a brilliant politician. His Gaza withdrawal plan worked perfectly. It provoked the rage of the truly insane Messianic lunatics; and this in turn brought the Israeli moderates to his, Sharon's, side. Thus Sharon co-opted his domestic opponents, even as he began the brutal, illegal, and ultimately suicidal annexation of large portions of the West Bank for the settlers, whose presence there has been expanding every day since June 1967.

Stephanie Koury described the basic situation last November in the Washington Post:

"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's brokering of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement on border crossings into the Gaza Strip is a good step for the economic development of Gaza and a positive sign of American engagement in the peace process. But the real test for the U.S. administration's commitment to this peace process isn't the Gaza Strip -- it's Israel's settlement expansion and its separation plan for the West Bank.

After a shooting attack on Israeli settlers in the West Bank last month, Israel responded by banning Palestinian movement in private vehicles on main roads in the West Bank. The United States called for lifting of these restrictions but has failed to grasp their implications as a sign of how Israel plans to separate itself from a Palestinian state and how this separation will affect Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's efforts on security reforms.

The restriction on Palestinian use of West Bank roads shows how Israel plans to separate Palestinians from Israeli settlers while maintaining many settlements scattered throughout the occupied West Bank. In September 2004, Israel launched a roads-and-tunnels plan consisting of approximately 24 tunnels and 56 roads that will shift Palestinian traffic away from Israeli settlements and off settler roads.

Under this plan, Israel's 410,000 settlers will enjoy the use of main roads and good highways, while many of the roads or tunnels planned for the 2.2 million Palestinians will be narrow and indirect and will traverse hilly areas -- making them ill suited for building an economically viable Palestinian state. The plan enables Israel to remove checkpoints and thus claim that it is improving the lives of the Palestinians, even as it tightens the noose around Palestinian areas and diminishes the land remaining for a future state.

The planned location of these tunnels and roads, combined with settlement expansion, will result in a Palestinian 'state' broken up into three parts on 54 percent of the West Bank, with a citizenry denied access to sufficient land and water resources for an adequate standard of living.

Abbas met with President Bush last month in part to ask that the United States ensure that Israel abide by its obligations under the "road map" peace plan to freeze settlements and dismantle outposts. President Bush reaffirmed these Israeli obligations but would not provide a timetable for insisting on their implementation. He also expressed support for Abbas's rejection of terrorism and pledged to help the Palestinian Authority end attacks, dismantle terrorist infrastructure and maintain law and order. But unfortunately the Bush administration's unwillingness to tackle settlement and road construction with Israel undermines those efforts."

The "solution" pursued by Sharon was not only unfair. It wouldn't have held for long. It would have brought more death, and it would ultimately have destroyed Israel by forming it ever more in the likeness of apartheid South Africa.

Now, with Sharon's so-called "centrist" coalition--this is true fascist doublespeak--in disarray, we may get something worse than Sharon's "solution" to the conflict.

But that is no reason to tell stupid lies about a murderous man--even if he happens to be dying.


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