A vote for war, against peace
By Charley Reese
Orlando Sentinel, February 13, 2001
The Israelis have voted for war and against peace. That is the naked truth of the election of Ariel Sharon as prime minister.
Those who try to pretend otherwise delude themselves that Sharon, at age 72, will repudiate his whole life, which has been brutal and bloody. In fact, he already has killed the peace talks by taking Jerusalem off the table and telling the Palestinians that any new talks must start at ground zero. In other words, Sharon considers any agreements reached with the previous prime ministers null and void.
It's a sad day. Israel stood in the doorway that leads to peace. All it had to do was return to the long-suffering Palestinians what rightfully is theirs -- the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem -- and acknowledge the right of refugees to return or compensation. Had Israel done that, peace would have followed.
But the Israelis stepped back from the door and turned to their dark past. Their lust for land is greater than their desire for peace. Their faith in the sword is greater than their faith in justice. They prefer oppression to cooperation.
It won't be immediately obvious, but the Israelis really have chosen national suicide. You're seeing the beginning of the end of the Zionist dream. Oh, they can kill thousands of Palestinians, and probably will. The killing will not yield the Israelis peace. The French won the military battles in Algeria, but the French left. We won the military battles in Vietnam, but we left.
In a real sense, the Israelis have created their own unconquerable enemy. The Israelis have made the lives of Palestinians so miserable, so impoverished, so hopeless that the Palestinians literally have nothing left to lose. It is a lot easier for them to die for freedom and independence than it will be for well-off Israelis to die to continue the occupation.
"Sharon will pose grave dangers not only for Palestinians, whom he is likely to brutalize, but also the entire region and possibly to world peace," said Michael Lerner, rabbi at San Francisco's Beyt Tikkun synagogue and editor of Tikkun magazine. "The path Israel is following is no surprise. Countries that seek to maintain by force the occupation over another people will eventually drift toward repressive or even fascistic leadership. The mean-spiritedness in Israel that leads to a Sharon landslide makes many younger Israelis wish to leave Israel."
The formidable Jewish lobby, which has had a hard enough time trying to rationalize the brutality of Ehud Barak, really will have its hands full trying to rationalize the actions of Sharon. In the 1950s he led a massacre of men, women and children in Qibya. He was also the architect of expanded Jewish settlements and the invasion of Lebanon.
The Israelis may, in fact, push their American lobby to such extremes that a backlash occurs. After all, how many Palestinian children shot to death or beaten to death can you blame for their own deaths? How long can you maintain the myth that the people with 346 dead and 10,000 wounded are causing all the violence and the side with only 46 dead are the pacifists?
How many times can you get away with crying anti-Semite every time a church group, a human-rights group or an international organization criticizes Israel's brutality?
I've always believed that Israel's support in this country is 10 miles long and an eighth of an inch deep. It consists mainly of the lobby, the rapture cult and those cowards in the Congress. In the past, nobody had to pay a price for supporting Israel. It was Israel's critics who had to pay the price.
Sharon, judging on the basis of his past, probably will reverse that.
Copyright © 2001, Orlando Sentinel