on the Aqaba Summit, in an atmosphere of peace and reconciliation,
a senior member of Israel's ruling junta said it all. Major General
Amos Gilad – the Government Coordinator in the [Occupied] Territories
– told Yedioth Achronoth (5.6.03): "In Mid-Eastern
terms, we have not inflicted any suffering on the Palestinians".
Merely 2.500 Palestinians killed in two and a half years, only
tens of thousands injured, just 12.000 made homeless by house
demolitions, nothing but economic plight on the verge of starvation,
continuous siege, regular orderly humiliation and countless "exceptional"
abuses (from theft to murder) – and no suffering whatsoever. "In
Mid-Eastern terms", that is. All the colonialist arrogance,
malicious gloating and bestial savageness of the Israeli junta
in a single phrase.
about the 700 Israelis killed by Palestinians in the same period?
What are they "in Mid-Eastern terms"? A petty trifle?
A token of love? Imagine a Palestinian official saying that at
a peace conference.
Meron Rapoport of Yedioth Achronoth (23.5) published an
extensive, horrifying research on the Israeli Apartheid Wall.
My own column
on the subject had underestimated the extent of the atrocity:
not only for the Palestinians sealed off behind the Wall, but
for those squeezed between the Wall and the Green Line, denied
access to Israel and cut off from the Palestinians behind the
fence – clearly a target to a "soft", economic ethnic
Rapoport's article – now available in a fairly complete English
translation – shows that the Wall is identical to Sharon's
age-old "Cantons Plan", aimed at annexing most of the
West Bank to Israel while pushing the Palestinians into disconnected
enclaves on about 40% of it. As Ron Nahman, mayor of the settlement
of Ariel, says: "The map of the fence, the sketch of which
you see here, is the same map I saw during every visit Arik [Sharon]
made here since 1978. He told me he has been thinking about it
how next month the town of Qalqilia, having lost 50% of its lands,
will be fenced all around, Rapoport concludes: "One can call
it cantons, or Bantustans, or simply a prison. A 10 metre narrow
gate will be the only access to the outside world for 40.000 inhabitants."
no reality could confuse the main-stream Israeli columnists in
the last weeks: they, like most of the Western media, live in
virtuality. Israel endorsed the Road Map; almost unnoticed went
its numerous reservations attached, which "turn the document
from a diplomatic initiative into an Israeli diktat of a Palestinian
surrender agreement" (Akiva Eldar, Ha'aretz, 27.5).
Sharon uttered the word "occupation"; unnoticed went
his withdrawing the term the very next day. And then came the
spectacle in Aqaba, and the columnists lost the little sanity
they may have had.
entire chorus – Yoel Marcus, Amir Oren and their ilk – now praise
Sharon's courage, moderateness and "potential for historic
greatness" (Ari Shavit in Ha'aretz, 29.5). The
latter – a loyal mouthpiece of any leader in power – was rewarded
an interview with a "close political ally" of Sharon,
MK Rivlin (Ha'aretz, 5.6), who explained "with great
sorrow" that the PM intended to dismantle 17 settlements.
Pay attention to Sharon's cheap propaganda tricks: a junior ally
is sent to do the work of cheating, too dirty for the leader himself;
"sorrow" is expressed to increase credibility; a sharp
number is used for the same purpose: "17" sounds much
more reliable than any round number.
far right plays its usual game of tears: Sharon behaves "as
if he converted", mourns Jewish-orthodox settler Israel Harel
(Ha'aretz, 29.5). Settlers' rallies follow, with massive
incitement against the PM, including repulsive abuse of the Holocaust:
the Road Map and Sharon allegedly push Israel into "Auschwitz
miraculous change-of-heart is "supported" by baseless
historical analogies: Sharon is compared to PM Rabin, who signed
the Oslo accords, or to PM Begin, who returned Sinai to Egypt.
Yizchak Shamir, the one Israeli PM truly similar to Sharon, is
missing from the analogy list for obvious reasons: both he and
Sharon are Likud hard-liners, both were summoned to a Peace Conference
by a President Bush following a Gulf War. But Shamir later admitted
that he had gone there determined to hold years and years of fruitless
"peace talks", while at the same time expanding the
media and the entire political arena, right and left, have thus
joined the national project of turning Sharon into a newborn dove:
the far right by attacking him, the left wing by embracing him.
Within days, contrary to all tangible evidence, they all propagated
the absurd idea that Sharon had experienced a spiritual conversion,
turning from the blood-thirsty warrior he had been all his life
into a peace-loving leader embraced by Peace Now.
Jupiter wants to destroy a nation, he first makes it blind. Precisely
like during the Oslo years, the entire Israeli main-stream, right
and left alike, backs the Israeli government by propogating its
alleged will to end the occupation, contrary to any fact on the
ground. No lesson at all was learned from the great Oslo deceit,
of which the only thing left – the Palestinian Authority having
been virtually destroyed and its "autonomous" areas
reoccupied – is the number of Israeli settlers, which doubled
within less than a decade. The only existing discussion is whether
Sharon is making peace because he himself wants to, or merely
thanks to the great peace-maker (cf. Iraq, Afghanistan etc.) President
Peace-Maker Sharon (banned from serving as Defence Minister for
his role in the 1982 massacre of Palestinians) started honestly
(having cheated PM Begin during the Lebanon War) to dismantle
illegal outposts (having urged settlers to "grab
the hills" in 1999) – because he believes in the Rule
of Law (while both he and his two sons are subject to criminal
than 100 "illegal outposts" (illegal even under Israeli
law; under international law all settlements are illegal)
are spread throughout the West Bank. Sharon now changed the adjective
from "illegal" to "unauthorised", and reduced
the number to 15, eleven of them unmanned: an empty container,
a deserted caravan. Repeating the comedy of his predecessors,
Sharon is indeed evicting this rubbish, probably under a confidential
agreement with the settlers, just like PM Barak, who had left
the infrastructure intact, authorising their return a year later.
A totally insignificant measure, mourned by the far-right as the
destruction of the Third Temple combined with a Second Holocaust,
hailed by the "peace camp" as the end of 36 years of
also set free 100 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture to Peace.
No journalist bothered to remind the readers that many weeks before
the Road Map was even launched, Defence Minister Mofaz had announced
an intention to release "several hundred" Palestinian
detainees – simply "to ease prison overcrowding" (Ha'aretz,
then came the promised "gestures" in easing living conditions
for the Palestinians – as if basic human rights or freedom of
movement were an act of grace. Here is Arnon Regular's report
picture that emerged yesterday after a day of driving up and down
and back and forth across the West Bank is of tens of thousands
of people who have seemingly been thrown back into the Middle
Ages, when the only mode of transport was by foot. Nobody is allowed
to take a vehicle from a village to a city. Instead, they must
get off at checkpoints, walk the extra few hundred meters, and
then, if they have the money, take a cab to the next checkpoint,
where again they have to walk the few hundred meters – sometimes
more – to the next point where they can get a taxi. The Palestinians
might have heard about Israel's easing conditions for travel,
but they haven't seen this on the ground. In fact, there are signs
that nothing at all has changed.
the little checkpoint at Ein Ariq, west of Ramallah, used by hundreds
of villagers from the area. It's a relatively small checkpoint,
consisting of a couple of jeeps that sometimes are there and sometimes
not. On Friday, less than 24 hours after the summit of prime ministers
in Jerusalem and announcements of abatements, an Israel Defense
Forces bulldozer showed up for the first time in the intifada
and dug a channel across the road, ending the possibility of using
a car to get through the checkpoint, even if the jeeps aren't
there. Thus, the thousands of villagers in that area yesterday
joined their brethren at checkpoints elsewhere in the West Bank,
lined up at the blockade. A line of about 1,000 people lined up
in front of the checkpoint, on their way by foot to Ramallah.
then, in the midst of the Great Peace Festival, came the "surprising"
assassination attempt of Hamas political leader Rantisi; as revenge,
a terror attack on the Jerusalem bus the next day; and the growing
escalation. Is it Sharon the Peace-Maker, or Sharon the Blood-Thirsty?
The answer is simple: there is only one Sharon.
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