FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Sharon, the Great Reformer?

by Uri Avnery

When the inhabitants of Bethlehem came out of their homes, after the long weeks during which Israeli soldiers shot at everything in town that moved, they discovered that the landscape had changed. While they were imprisoned in their homes, the army had been working day and night to separate them from the world by a trench two meters deep and a murderous wire fence, sharp as a razor, that could cause anyone entangled in it to bleed to death. The town and its suburbs (Bet-Jala, the Aida and other refugee camps) had become a big prison.

This week, members of the Palestinian parliament tried to get to the session that dealt with “reform”. The trip to Ramallah, half an hour in ordinary times, took them four hours, including a series of humiliations at the many army checkpoints.

Bethlehem is a suburb if Jerusalem. Hundreds of threads tie it to the city. All these threads are cut now. Jerusalem is further from Bethlehem than the dark side of the moon.

This kind of fence is being erected now in many places around the country, cutting the Palestinian enclaves off not only from Israel, but from each other, too. The slogan is “separation”, and that sounds good to Israeli ears. “We are here and they are there,” as the lamentable Ehud Barak used to declare. The real situation is quite different: “We are here and we are there.” Because the separation is not only unilateral, but also unidirectional. Palestinians are forbidden to cross into Israel, but the settlers and soldiers cross into Palestine.

Sharon’s war against the Palestinian people is continuing at full speed. The erection of the fences is only one of its operations. The second one is the settlement activity that has not stopped for a moment. Old settlements expand, new ones spring up and all over the occupied territories the building of bypass roads goes on, expropriating Palestinian lands and strangling Palestinian villages.

The third operation of the war bears the glorious title of “reform”.

When Sharon declares that the reform of the Palestinian Authority is a condition for the resumption of the peace process, it is another device to prevent any negotiations. It also allows Sharon to climb on the bandwagon of Bush, who is demanding a democratic reform of the Authority (without, of course, demanding the same from countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and China.)

The slogan of reform also serves another of Sharon’s purposes: it attracts public attention, causes the Jenin events to be forgotten and the daily incursions and killings of the IDF in the Palestinian territories to be ignored.

But as the Great Reformer of Palestine, Sharon is following a much more important agenda. As a general in the army, he was famous as a commander who “reads the battlefield”, meaning that he had the ability to grasp instinctively where the crucial spot in the enemy front is located. For example: long before the October 1973 war, Sharon had decided exactly were he would break through the Egyptian front and cross the Suez canal when the time arrived.

Sharon decided long ago that the crucial point in the Palestinian front is the leadership of Yasser Arafat. Many believe that Sharon’s efforts to eliminate the Palestinian leader spring from a personal vendetta, after Arafat slipped out of his hands in Beirut. But the matter is far more serious.

Sharon knows that if he succeeded in breaking Arafat, we would be breaking the backbone of the Palestinian people for many years to come–years in which he could finish the job of filling the territories with settlements and annexing them to Israel. Arafat is a strong and authoritative leader, who holds all the strands of the Palestinian people together, preventing a civil war between them and is the only one who can take courageous, historic decisions.

Many different parties are now speaking about reforming the Palestinian Authority, and each one of them has a different agenda. For Sharon, reform means doing away with Arafat and installing a group of Quislings (as he tried 20 years ago with the creation of the “village leagues”.) For Bush, “reform” means appointing a Palestinian leadership that will follow his (and, indirectly, Israel’s) orders, in return for the creation of a Palestinian client-state like Puerto Rica or Andorra (as Netanyahu once said).

Among the Palestinians themselves, some see reform simply as a means to push their rivals out and take their place. I suspect that some of the reform-toting Palestinians work for the Mossad and/or the CIA. Hamas hopes that the reform will bring about the collapse of the Palestinian Authority and clear the way for its own takeover. Other Palestinians are striving honestly for the immediate establishment of practices appropriate for an ordered state, quite ignoring the fact that the Palestinian people is still in the middle of a fight for its very existence, faced with the real danger of finally being driven out of its country.

Many Palestinians want a different reform: one that will cut out the parasitical elements, which have attached themselves to the Palestinian authority, and prepare the Palestinian people for the next, decisive stage of its struggle for liberation. Not reform instead of the struggle, but reform for the struggle. None of them intends to fulfill the dream of Sharon and Bush to liquidate Arafat or turn him into a Palestinian facsimile of Moshe Katzav, the figurehead President of Israel.

Uri Avnery has closely followed the career of Sharon for four decades. Over the years, he has written three extensive biographical essays about him, two (1973, 1981) with his cooperation.

 

URI AVNERY is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch’s book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Pierre Labossiere – Margaret Prescod
Human Rights and Alternative Media Delegation Report on Haiti’s Elections
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
David Yearsley
Brahms and the Tears of Britain’s Oppressed
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail