Ariel Sharon, the man behind the eulogies
By Nureddin Sabir
Editor, Redress Information & Analysis
Ariel Sharon, in a persistent vegetative state since suffering a stroke in 2006, is dead.
Looking at Israeli newspaper headlines, you would be forgiven to think that a great hero has just passed away, off onto a journey to paradise.
“Sharon, man of action,” is one of the many fawning headlines of the Times of Israel mourning the final demise of the former Israeli prime minister, military commander and war criminal.
“The man who executed the vision,” whined the Israeli news website Ynet, as if aggression, war crimes and mass murder were the gift of visionaries. It would have been more appropriate to stop at the word “executed”. In another article, Ynet relates how Israelis are paying respect to a “great leader”.
An indication of the sad state of world Jewry is given by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, JTA, which reports that “Jewish organizations in the United States and around the world remembered the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as a military leader and a fighter for peace”.
The cynicism and collective amnesia are not confined to Israel or world Jewry.
The Times of Israel reports that dignitaries (a misnomer, if ever there was one) from 19 states, including US Vice-President Joe Biden, Czech Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok and the foreign ministers of Australia and Germany, will be among those attending Sharon’s funeral. Unsurprisingly, former British Prime Minister and war crimes suspect Tony Blair will join the mourners.
…Sharon was peculiarly unimaginative. He thought that bullying people and using sadism and arbitrariness against them would convince them to comply. (Prof. Juan Cole)
And in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, Lawrence Joffe offers an obituary which, if not an apology, certainly glosses over much of Sharon’s life and deeds.
So, how are we to assess the life of Sharon?
Jonathan Cook provides a more realistic evaluation, in an article in Al-Jazeera’s website – “The legacy of Ariel ‘the bulldozer’ Sharon”.
“It is easy to forget, with eulogies casting him as the unexpected ‘peace-maker’, that for most of his long military and political career Ariel Sharon was known simply as The Bulldozer. That is certainly how he will be remembered by Palestinians,” Cook says.
Middle East historian Juan Cole of Michigan University reminds us of “ten ways Ariel Sharon ruined Israel and the Middle East”. He concludes:
Violent, impulsive, rash, and greedy, Sharon… created the endeavour of an Israel attempting to annex the West Bank; he created the problem of a Shi’i crescent that ends on his doorstep. He committed war crimes. He pioneered elective wars for regime change, likely influencing George W. Bush. He was responsible for tens of thousands of deaths of innocents. Despite his late-career acceptance of the notion of a Palestinian state, he really just meant another colonially-dominated entity. He was willing to create a South-Africa style bantustan for the Palestinians, not a real state with sovereignty. Even then he wanted to keep 45 per cent of the Palestinian West Bank for himself.
…Sharon was peculiarly unimaginative. He thought that bullying people and using sadism and arbitrariness against them would convince them to comply. He probably helped doom the whole enterprise of Israel; the one he helped create, a site of the forever war and imperial domination, is intrinsically unstable.
Writing in +972 Magazine, Lisa Goldman, a Canadian Jew, paints a vivid picture of the impact of Sharon on her political education:
My earliest memory of Ariel Sharon involves vivid colour photographs of corpses. I was just waking up to the world and intensely interested in current affairs, so I spent quite a bit of time in the library of my quiet, Canadian all girls’ school, thumbing through news magazines like Newsweek, Time and Life. Which is how I learned about the massacre of Palestinians at Sabra and Shatila and saw those gut-churning images of sprawled, bloated, bloody bodies – piles of them. Men and women. Children.
More than three decades later, it is those photographs that flicker automatically across my inner movie screen in response to any mention of Ariel Sharon’s name. Not the famous black-and-white photograph of General Sharon with his bandaged head after he was wounded on a Sinai battlefield during the 1973 war. And not the later image of the warrior turned farmer, with a sheep slung over his shoulders. For me he was primarily a war criminal…
There is no need to say anymore. A butcher, a sadist and a war criminal. That is how Ariel Sharon will be remembered by all fair-minded people.
May he rot in hell.