[Marxism] The Whitewashing Of Ariel Sharon

Mike Friedman mikedf at amnh.org
Mon Jan 9 13:35:09 MST 2006

The Whitewashing Of Ariel Sharon

By Saree Makdis

08 January, 2006
Los Angeles Times

As Ariel Sharon's career comes to an end, the 
whitewashing is already underway. Literally 
overnight he was being hailed as "a man of 
courage and peace" who had generated "hopes for a 
far-reaching accord" with an electoral campaign 
promising "to end conflict with the Palestinians."

But even if end-of-career assessments often 
stretch the truth, and even if far too many 
people fall for the old saw about the gruff old 
warrior miraculously turning into a man of peace, 
the reality is that miracles don't happen, and 
only rarely have words and realities been 
separated by such a yawning abyss.

From the beginning to the end of his career, 
Sharon was a man of ruthless and often gratuitous 
violence. The waypoints of his career are all 
drenched in blood, from the massacre he directed 
at the village of Qibya in 1953, in which his men 
destroyed whole houses with their occupants - 
men, women and children - still inside, to the 
ruinous invasion of Lebanon in 1982, in which his 
army laid siege to Beirut, cut off water, 
electricity and food supplies and subjected the 
city's hapless residents to weeks of 
indiscriminate bombardment by land, sea and air.

As a purely gratuitous bonus, Sharon and his army 
later facilitated the massacre of hundreds of 
Palestinians at the refugee camps of Sabra and 
Shatila, and in all about 20,000 people - almost 
all innocent civilians - were killed during his 
Lebanon adventure.

Sharon's approach to peacemaking in recent years 
wasn't very different from his approach to war. 
Extrajudicial assassinations, mass home 
demolitions, the construction of hideous barriers 
and walls, population transfers and illegal 
annexations - these were his stock in trade as "a 
man of courage and peace."

Some may take comfort in the myth that Sharon was 
transformed into a peacemaker, but in fact he 
never deviated from his own 1998 call to "run and 
grab as many hilltops" in the occupied 
territories as possible. His plan for peace with 
the Palestinians involved grabbing large portions 
of the West Bank, ultimately annexing them to 
Israel, and turning over the shattered, 
encircled, isolated, disconnected and barren 
fragments of territory left behind to what only a 
fool would call a Palestinian state.

Sharon's "painful sacrifices" for peace may have 
involved Israel keeping less, rather than more, 
of the territory that it captured violently and 
has clung to illegally for four decades, but few 
seem to have noticed that it's not really a 
sacrifice to return something that wasn't yours 
to begin with.

His much-ballyhooed withdrawal from Gaza left 1.4 
million Palestinians in what is essentially the 
world's largest prison, cut off from the rest of 
the world and as subject to Israeli power as 
before. It also terminated the possibility of a 
two-state solution to the conflict by condemning 
Palestinians to whiling away their lives in a 
series of disconnected Bantustans, ghettos, 
reservations and strategic hamlets, entirely at 
the mercy of Israel.

That's not peace. As Crazy Horse or Sitting Bull 
would have recognized at a glance, it's an 
attempt to pacify an entire people by bludgeoning 
them into a subhuman irrelevance. Nothing short 
of actual genocide - for which Sharon's formula 
was merely a kind of substitute - would persuade 
the Palestinian people to quietly accept such an 
arrangement, or negate themselves in some other 
way. And no matter which Israeli politician now 
assumes Sharon's bloody mantle, such an approach 
to peace will always fail.

Saree Makdis is a professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA.

© 2006 Los Angeles Times

Michael Friedman
Doctoral Candidate in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior
City University of New York

Molecular Systematics Laboratory
Department of Invertebrate Zoology
American Museum of Natural History
79th Street at Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

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