FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Other Meaning of Israel’s Political Earthquake

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

 

 

More articles by:

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His latest book is The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story (Pluto Press, London, 2018). He earned a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, UCSB.

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 Duggin
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
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail