FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Sharon, the Great Reformer?

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.

 

More articles by:

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.

December 19, 2018
John O'Kane
Drops and the Dropped: Diversity and the Midterm Elections
December 18, 2018
Charles Pierson
Where No Corn Has Grown Before: Better Living Through Climate Change?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Waters of American Democracy
Patrick Cockburn
Will Anger in Washington Over the Murder of Khashoggi End the War in Yemen?
George Ochenski
Trump is on the Ropes, But the Pillage of Natural Resources Continues
Farzana Versey
Tribals, Missionaries and Hindutva
Robert Hunziker
Is COP24 One More Big Bust?
David Macaray
The Truth About Nursing Homes
Nino Pagliccia
Have the Russian Military Aircrafts in Venezuela Breached the Door to “America’s Backyard”?
Paul Edwards
Make America Grate Again
David Rosnick
The Impact of OPEC on Climate Change
Binoy Kampmark
The Kosovo Blunder: Moving Towards a Standing Army
Andrew Stewart
Shine a Light for Immigration Rights in Providence
December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Vacy Vlanza
The Australian Prime Minister’s Rapture for Jerusalem
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail