Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Several times Ariel Sharon has received the benefit of the doubt from people on the Israeli Left, including during last Saturday's mass demonstration of support for his disengagement plan, because they think that he is the only one on the Right who somehow will be able to deliver some sort of end to the occupation. Each time again he shows what has all the appearances of being his true face, and it is far from pretty. The Left does not have a leader, but it also cannot let Sharon, Mofaz and Ya'alon continue with what they are doing right now in Rafah. It does not matter what the purpose of the current IDF actions in that city is: to fight terror, to prove to the world and to the Palestinians that Israel will not be trifled with, to satisfy the Israeli Right ahead of a possible withdrawal from Gaza, etc. etc. If you want to be considered a civilized country, you just do not fire missiles at a demonstration of civilians, many of who are children. Even if troops were fired upon by demonstrators ( something that I have not heard yet in any report ), that still does not justify the things that I heard in reports on Israeli radio. With such actions we deserve all the bad press that we get, and there is no point in whining that everybody hates us. Even if righteous people committed crimes like this they would be crucified by the international media, and rightly so. We can save investing millions of dollars in initiatives to counter anti-Israel coverage by foreign media as long as we do not show any intention of behaving according to more or less accepted international standards, and by that I do not mean what Thomas Friedman called the Hama-rules. It is clear, either Sharon still does not have a clue about what he wants or intends to do with the territories ( or with Israel itself ), or he insists on continuing the occupation as long as the world allows him to do so, letting his policies be dictated by the 50.000 Likud voters who voted against ( or in favor of ) him. Now it is said that in the case of a withdrawal - which might be carried out in stages, even though in my eyes the most important lesson from Oslo is that working in stages allows extremists to take both Israelis and Palestinians hostage at each and every stage with their actions - all the homes of the settlers could be razed. Scorched earth policy, tried so successfully by some of history's most noble world leaders in Russia and elsewhere. Hey, does anybody notice that Sharon's legal troubles haven't made any headlines for at least a week now? Obviously I am angry and shocked, but it is hard not to be when one watches the images from Rafah. I think it was Golda Meir ( at least I saw her saying something like it in The Sword of Gideon, a tv movie about the team that was sent to kill most of the perpetrators of the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre, with Steve Bauer and Michael York ) who said that she does not forgive the terrorists for turning our young men into killers. In this case we cannot blame the terrorists alone, there is only a very thin link to our justified fight against terror, which - as everybody knows and most people accept - causes innocent people on the 'other side' to die. The main reason for most of the 'colateral damage' of the last days in Rafah is that politicians and the military made a deliberate choice to do what is being done. Their motives only they know, the outcome is still very unclear, but we can guess that all this will not further the real interests of the average Israeli ( or Palestinian ).

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