By Alan Hart
Until recently I thought Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had no rivals in the business of talking propaganda nonsense (Israel’s Jews in danger of annihilation etcetera, etcetera, etcetera). But if there was a Nobel Prize for talking nonsense it does now seem that there would be a number of contenders.
At the top of my list of them would be British Prime Minister David Cameron. In paying tribute to Sharon he praised him for his “brave and controversial decisions in pursuit of peace.”
In an article for the Nation under the headline How Ariel Sharon Shaped Israel’s Destiny, and which contains chilling quotes from some of Sharon’s closest advisers about the need “to kill and kill and kill the animals” (the Palestinians), Max Blumenthal wrote that “Sharon’s true goal was never to end the occupation but to reinforce it under new parameters.” That’s my judgement, too.
For Sharon withdrawal from the Gaza Strip was nothing more than a contribution to defusing the demographic time bomb of occupation after his failure in 1982 to make Zionism’s dream come true by delivering the Jordan Option, Zionism’s preferred solution to the problem of what to do about the Palestinians.
When in the summer of that year Sharon ordered the invasion of Lebanon all the way to Beirut, exterminating the entire PLO leadership and destroying the organization’s infrastructure was only phase one of his two-stage strategy. Phase two was to have been de-stabilizing Jordan, getting rid of the Hashemite monarchy and then saying to the Palestinians of the occupied West Bank: “Of course you must have a state of your own. There it is, across the Jordan, go to it.” Sharon’s advance planning for phase two included recruiting and assembling Palestinian collaborators who were to be flown to Amman by Israeli helicopters within minutes of King Hussein abdicating and fleeing, to declare themselves the provisional government of Palestine.
Some years later I asked King Hussein if he had been aware of what Sharon was intending to make happen in Jordan if he had achieved his phase one objectives in Lebanon. The King said he was not only aware of Sharon’s intentions at the time but, also, that the Gulf Arab leaders had effectively given him a green light. It was in the form of a message from them, agreed at a secret meeting, to President Reagan. The message was to the effect that when Sharon invaded Lebanon, the Gulf States would make no trouble for the U.S. and Israel.
It was after that secret meeting to agree the message to Reagan that Oman’s Sultan Qaboos said to Arafat (as I have previously reported): “When Sharon makes his move you will ask for our help and it will not be coming. Be careful.”)
Though he was unable to empty Greater Israel of its Palestinians by creating a state for them in Jordan, Sharon did more than most if not all other Israeli leaders to make peace based on an acceptable amount of justice for the Palestinians impossible (unless an American president is prepared to insist that Israel ends its occupation of the West Bank).
The question provoked in my mind by Cameron’s tribute to Sharon was this. Did he praise Sharon’s “pursuit of peace” because he is ignorant of Sharon’s record, described by Blumenthal as a “bloody career that spanned decades, destroyed entire cities and presided over the killing of countless civilians”; or was it because like most if not all Western leaders Cameron feels the need from time to time to kiss Zionism’s backside?
I suspect the later and when he takes his face away from it (Zionism’s backside), I suggest that he reads, in The Guardian’s Comment Is Free space, Avi Shlaim’s conclusions about Sharon’s enduring legacy. It has been, Shlaim wrote, “to empower and embolden some of the most racist, xenophobic, expansionist and intransigent elements in Israel’s dysfunctional political system.”
One interesting thing very few people know about Sharon is that he was opposed to Israel developing and possessing nuclear weapons. His argued that Israel had military superiority over the Arabs with conventional weapons and better motivated manpower and could maintain that superiority; but if Israel acquired nuclear weapons there might come a day when the Arabs had them, too. In that event Israel would no longer be free to impose its will on the Arabs.