We here at Antiwar.com are often very critical of Ariel Sharon, and rightly so. He has, after all, spent the last 50+ years killing civilians in a war few ever seem to get tired of. He’s directly responsible for tens of thousands of Palestinian deaths, and is now gleefully walling them in.
Indeed, its not terribly hard to find op/ed pieces that call him a genocidal madman. I’m not going to do that here, mostly because it makes it a lot harder to feel sorry for him.
But over the last few days, something interesting has happened. There exist those in Israel who are even further to the right than Mr. Sharon, and despite his past record, they really don’t feel he’s quite genocidal enough. In fact, they feel so strongly about this, some are plotting to kill him.
Although it may not look like it to those of us outside of Israel, Ariel Sharon has actually become something of a centrist, and in a society that has very strong opinions one way or the other on the Palestinian question, that is a very dangerous position to be in. He’s got to come down off the fence to save his own neck, and he knows it.
Two days ago when this story first started coming together, if you’d asked me which side he’d wind up on, I’d have guess the right. After all, this is Ariel Sharon we’re talking about. He’d probably decide he was going soft in his old age and get back to what he does best, killing Palestinians while the Right cheers. Miraculously though, it doesn’t look like that’s what is going to happen.
Instead, he has turned to one of his longtime rivals Shimon Peres, Labour Party Leader and founder of the Peres Center for Peace. The redoubtable Mr. Peres, to his credit, instead of taking the easy path to power has made his cooperation conditional, Israel must withdraw from the Gaza Strip, or he wants nothing to do with them.