FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Other Meaning of Israel’s Political Earthquake

by RAMZY BAROUD

Most of what has been written or said to depict Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s departure from the Likud party is parable to an “earthquake,” or the “eruption of a volcano,” and has, without a doubt, turned the Israeli political map “topsy-turvy,” to borrow Ha’aretz Gideon Samet’s phrase.

Like an earthquake it was unforeseeable — except to the prudent few, mostly in Israeli political circles who predicted a dead end in Sharon’s dealings with the Likud, the same political party he helped create 30 years ago.

But acknowledging the significance of the undeniably consequential event is one thing. Succumbing to a flawed analysis that it is a real opportunity to resuscitate the so-called peace process — is entirely a different matter.

Similar to his unilateral move to “disengage” from the Gaza Strip earlier this year, the rightwing prime minister once again managed to control media discourse surrounding his Nov. 21 decision to jump the Likud ship in favor of a new center-based “liberal movement” — a political party tentatively known as National Responsibility.

The U.S. media almost immediately accepted, with little scrutiny to speak of, Sharon’s announcement that he — a 77-year-old leader with extensive history of political extremism and a longer history of war crimes — has become a “centrist.”

The depiction of Sharon as a moderate, risking it all to salvage the peace process, is a misguided, if not embarrassing, inference to say the least.

While one can easily decipher the source of the upsurge in Sharon’s reputation in the media as a rising “liberal politician” — his decision to disengage from Gaza being the most obvious — one cannot help but wonder whether Sharon’s enthusiasts, who hurryingly registered his renewed commitment to the “road map” for peace in the region, were even aware of his concurrent decision to further expand three major illegal settlements in the occupied territories — Maale Adumim, Adam and Ariel.

If they were aware of his future designs, wouldn’t responsible journalism compel them to report that the road map calls for the halting of settlement expansion, as it would prejudice the outcome of any final status negotiations? Instead, the process of split-up and formation in Israeli politics was portrayed as having the potential of determining the future of the peace process, while every other fact that might negate such an assertion was omitted.

True, the upheaval and subsequent reshuffling that recently took place among the Labor party rank had more to do with redefining Israel’s priorities than achieving peace with the Palestinians. The deposing of the elitist Deputy Prime Minister and former Labor party leader Shimon Peres, in favor of the more socialist-like Amir Peretz, is in essence an attempt to reroute the government’s focus and resources to poorer Israeli communities, whose plight has deteriorated as a result of the government’s endless spending on its illegal settlements projects in the West Bank.

Nonetheless, the Likud party mayhem is essentially ideological. Though the outcome of the Israeli debacle will implausibly yield a full recognition of long denied Palestinian rights and the acceptance, without further spins, of international law as the basis of resolving the conflict, one must not unwisely write off scenarios that will possibly emerge following the March elections.

The Likud and Sharon’s emerging political party have not changed; nor have they substantially altered their ideological interpretation of their conflict with the Palestinians. Even in the midst of the disengagement hype, Sharon never ceased to assure Israelis that the move is tactical, that his commitment to the country’s expansionist project is as ever strong and so forth. The prevailing understanding among Israeli officials was that the “painful” and indeed marginal withdrawal from Gaza was merely aimed at altering demographics in favor of Israel, converge the country’s resources to expand West Bank settlements, and indefinitely postpone the peace process with the Palestinians. The strategy proved a winner when the Americans gave the nod that no such process was needed for the time being until Palestinians disarm, quit incitement, prove able to govern themselves, etc.

Empowered with unadulterated American support and a corruptible Palestinian leadership, Sharon is hoping to persist with the implementation of his vision that, in his opinion, will secure and irrevocably define Israel’s borders — even if at the expense of Palestinian land and rights. Thus, if one must accept that Sharon has indeed metamorphosed from one character to another, it was his move from being a rightwing ideologue to a rightwing strategist. Alas, for Palestinians, the end result is the same.

The changes in the Israeli political scene place Palestinians under yet more pressure to “reciprocate” while their land is being actively stolen, as their aspiration for a meaningfully sovereign state is gravely diminished.

RAMZY BAROUD, a veteran Arab American journalist, teaches mass communication at Australia’s Curtin University of Technology, Malaysia Campus. He is the editor-in-chief of PalestineChronicle.com

 

 

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is: ramzybaroud.net

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
April 28, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Slandering Populism: a Chilling Media Habit
Andrew Levine
Why I Fear and Loathe Trump Even More Now Than On Election Day
Jeffrey St. Clair
Mountain of Tears: the Vanishing Glaciers of the Pacific Northwest
Philippe Marlière
The Neoliberal or the Fascist? What Should French Progressives Do?
Conn Hallinan
America’s New Nuclear Missile Endangers the World
Peter Linebaugh
Omnia Sunt Communia: May Day 2017
Vijay Prashad
Reckless in the White House
Brian Cloughley
Who Benefits From Prolonged Warfare?
Kathy Kelly
The Shame of Killing Innocent People
Ron Jacobs
Hate Speech as Free Speech: How Does That Work, Exactly?
Andre Vltchek
Middle Eastern Surgeon Speaks About “Ecology of War”
Matt Rubenstein
Which Witch Hunt? Liberal Disanalogies
Sami Awad - Yoav Litvin - Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Never Give Up: Nonviolent Civilian Resistance, Healing and Active Hope in the Holyland
Pete Dolack
Tribunal Finds Monsanto an Abuser of Human Rights and Environment
Christopher Ketcham
The Coyote Hunt
Mike Whitney
Putin’s New World Order
Ramzy Baroud
Palestinian, Jewish Voices Must Jointly Challenge Israel’s Past
Ralph Nader
Trump’s 100 Days of Rage and Rapacity
Harvey Wasserman
Marine Le Pen Is a Fascist—Not a ‘Right-Wing Populist,’ Which Is a Contradiction in Terms
William Hawes
World War Whatever
John Stanton
War With North Korea: No Joke
Jim Goodman
NAFTA Needs to be Replaced, Not Renegotiated
Murray Dobbin
What is the Antidote to Trumpism?
Louis Proyect
Left Power in an Age of Capitalist Decay
Medea Benjamin
Women Beware: Saudi Arabia Charged with Shaping Global Standards for Women’s Equality
Rev. William Alberts
Selling Spiritual Care
Peter Lee
Invasion of the Pretty People, Kamala Harris Edition
Cal Winslow
A Special Obscenity: “Guernica” Today
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey’s Kurdish Agenda
Guillermo R. Gil
The Senator Visits Río Piedras
Jeff Mackler
Mumia Abu-Jamal Fights for a New Trial and Freedom 
Cesar Chelala
The Responsibility of Rich Countries in Yemen’s Crisis
Leslie Watson Malachi
Women’s Health is on the Chopping Block, Again
Basav Sen
The Coal Industry is a Job Killer
Judith Bello
Rojava, a Popular Imperial Project
Robert Koehler
A Public Plan for Peace
Sam Pizzigati
The Insider Who Blew the Whistle on Corporate Greed
Jesse Jackson
Jeff Sessions is Rolling Back Basic Rights
Nyla Ali Khan
There Has to be a Way Out of the Labyrinth
Rivera Sun
Blind Slogans and Shallow Greatness
Michael J. Sainato
Trump Scales Back Antiquities Act, Which Helped to Create National Parks
Stu Harrison
Under Duterte, Filipino Youth Struggle for Real Change
Martin Billheimer
Balm for Goat’s Milk
Stephen Martin
Spooky Cookies and Algorithmic Steps Dystopian
Michael Doliner
Thank You Note
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail