“If we thought that instead of 200 dead there, that 2000 dead would end this whole issue and that at once everything would end, then we would use much more force.” Barak, Former Prime Minister of Israel Washington Post Nov 17, 2000
Infuriated that Barak had not killed enough Palestinians, the Israelis have seen fit to intensify their brutal military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Once again, they have elected another war criminal to the office of Prime Minister. Their partners in crime, the Israeli Lobby has already rolled out a marketing plan for selling Sharon. After all, they have a track record of successfully selling Begin and Shamir, men who came to office with their own long list of felonies.
Given the increasing clout of Rupert Murdoch, there is every cause for the Israeli propagandists to believe that Sharon can be sanitized enough for public display. The Fox network has been pitching him as an ex-Defense Minister and war hero. Murdoch’s Daily Post recently arranged a major reception for Sharon in New York. While the New York Times is repackaging him as the next De Gaulle, a grandfatherly type who romps through bucolic fields of clover with his grand kids. It should also be noted that a number of American media consultants have played a crucial part in reincarnating Sharon as a potential rival to Mother Theresa.
The Israelis and their career apologists may once again win these public relations wars. The media instruments they have in hand can be tuned to play at a very high decibel, one that can drown out any resistance to their message. As I write this, the rumor is that Murdoch is teaming up with Bill Gates to form a global mega media empire. That should be quite useful in glossing over Sharon’s blood stained history at Qibya and Sabra and Shatila. Then there is the old reliable Ted Turner, the new owner of the United Nations, whose ex-wife Jane Fonda was vile enough to entertain Sharon’s troops while they slaughtered Palestinians and Lebanese in 1982. Hanoi Jane finally made it up to the guys in khaki, albeit in another country’s occupation army.
After securing the American and Israeli market, the Israelis don’t give a rat’s ass about world public opinion. They covet Palestinian real estate not beauty prizes.
The only problem is that Sharon’s “new and improved” image stands a zero chance of finding buyers on the Arab Street. This is a market that could not even stomach the excessive brutality of Barak and Shimon Peres. Long after Israelis rebrand Sharon as “an old soldier transformed into a messiah of peace”, those who have been the victims of his criminality will not forget or forgive. Indeed, a whole generation of Israelis will be left to explain how they came to elect this notorious war criminal in a free and fair election. Of six million Israelis, who all posed as “peace partners”, they chose this dangerous “serial arsonist”. The obvious intent is to abandon the now defunct Oslo peace process and move to an aggressive Sharon style pacification program. The restless natives in the colonies will be made to bow to the ‘iron fist’ of the thugs in the Israeli army.
The difference between a pacification program and a peace process is not immediately apparent to American “journalists”. Every Israeli apologist can sell either strategy as a “peace offering”. The American media will sooner or later have to calibrate their equipment to sanitize Sharon’s future crimes, while simultaneously burying his old record of atrocities.
Despite the reach of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corps and Bill Gates’ Microsoft, the attempts to sanitize Sharon will not be easily digested in Western Europe or the broader Islamic world. Scenes from the four day massacre at Sabra and Shatila and accounts of the slaughter at Qibya will be played endlessly to a very wired world. And every Arab will internalize the sight of joyous Israelis dancing over the memories of Sharon’s victims. Whatever small inroads the Israelis have made with the mainstream of the Arab road have been washed away without a trace. After the election of Sharon, every Israeli is a “Sabra and Shatila” Israeli. One out of two Israelis had no problems with electing this cruel and reckless murderer of men, women and children. What a country! What a people! What unrestrained and unabashed bigotry! Forget about explaining it to the Arabs, Israelis will first need to explain it to their kids. They should remember that Hitler was also voted into power. This was not a referendum on peace. This was a referendum on the level of Zionist racism that still beats within the bosom of almost every Israeli, including many of the “peaceniks” on the left.
The Israelis, in their characteristic national chauvinism, have gone from the million who marched to protest Sharon’s murderous invasion of Lebanon to dancing over the graves of the Palestinians and Lebanese who were mercilessly eradicated during the “Peace for Galilee” campaign. One can only hope that Sharon will be treated as a pariah in the West. To do otherwise would send a clear message to the vast majority in the Middle East and Islamic world that Americans and Europeans share Israel’s callous indifference to the events that took place at Sabra and Shatila and Qibya.
Sharon should be treated like Pinochet, Haider, Waldheim, Milosovic, Qaddafi and Saddam. The international community must move swiftly to contain his expansionist plans and provide immediate physical protection to the Palestinians living under occupation. It is also time for Yasser Arafat and those around him to make room for a more robust and legitimate Palestinian leadership that can confront a more belligerent Israel under the rule of Sharon. Arafat is a pathetic loser who has left his people vulnerable to Sharon’s vulture tactics. For him to extend a hand to Sharon is to dishonor the memory of all the Palestinians, who have been killed, maimed and brutalized by Sharon and his army.
The election of Sharon is George Bush and General Powell’s first foreign policy blunder. They should have alerted the Israeli public to the consequences of electing a notorious war criminal. The fact that they are mouthing the old tired platitudes about Israel as a “strategic ally and friend” should sound the alarm bells in the Middle East. Let no one in the Middle East mistake the amount of racism and religious bias that is casually thrown into the mix when cooking up American foreign policy. Consider this little clue about the extent of Israeli Lobby influence in tailoring American policy to Israeli ambitions; Dennis Ross, the “American mediator”, has just gone back to his old digs at the AIPAC-affiliated Washington Institute for Near East Policy. No doubt his position at State will be filled by a “Republican” AIPAC affiliated Zionist operative.
Since the Gulf War, the Arab leaders appear to be in a state of permanent stupor. They have a been rolled over too many times by the slick boys at the State Department. At a minimum, they should request that all future American envoys be screened for any actions in their past that hint of racism, religious bigotry or adherence to Zionist ideology.
If the Israelis can demand an get an American ambassador on loan from AIPAC, every Arab country should demand an Arab-American envoy.
The problem is that there is no welcome mat for Arab-Americans at the State Department, certainly not those who have been active in promoting Palestinian rights. The Jewish lobby has completely infiltrated the ranks of the State Department. It is an open secret that trained professionals at the State Department have constantly been shoved aside in favor of political appointees from the Israeli Lobby. When an Arab leader bows to an American envoy’s arm-twisting; he is bowing down to Barak, Sharon and the Jewish Lobby. Want to know why Turkey values its relationship with Israel so much? Just to have access to the State Department and Congress through the good offices of the Jewish Lobby.
If the Arab leaders do not have the fortitude to stand up to America’s indifference to Sharon’s Israel, they will be manipulated like fools for the duration of this Administration, and lose whatever legitimacy they retain. If they don’t play hardball, they can be certain the Israeli Lobby will spare no efforts to promote Sharon’s agenda with the new administration. The New York Times has already put Powell on notice about the potential trouble that can emerge from the AOL/TIME/WARNER scandal. The General was on the board of AOL and his son was on the FCC commission that approved the merger. It was old news, made new, for future leverage on Israel’s behalf. No doubt, General Powell took notice of that warning from Sulzberger. They have a nice little file on the General, all ready to go. Powell knows it. The New York Times knows it. They will pull it out when Sharon needs it.
George Bush is inclined to be a domestic president who cuts taxes, hands out school vouchers and promotes faith-based soup kitchens. He is desperate for Murdoch’s boys at FOX to continue agitating for his domestic agenda. That also explains why there will be no FCC investigation of Murdoch’s deals with the Chinese government to manipulate content in exchange for access to China’s huge market.
In unison, all the different players that make up the Israeli Lobby are selling the line that America should disengage from the Middle East and let Sharon have his way with the Palestinians. Instead of the peace of the brave, the Palestinians will be offered the peace of the grave. They argue that the Palestinians deserve harsher treatment because they dared to hold onto their precious right to return. If the Palestinians don’t like the level of violence inflicted by the Barak’s thugs, let them get a taste of Sharon’s thugs. No more “generous” offers for the Palestinians. If the Palestinians turned down Barak’s miserly offerings, Sharon will not even make an offer. That will teach them.
The American press is in a truly ugly mood, what with all the cutbacks at CNN. When it comes to the Palestinians, the uglier their mood, the heftier the paycheck that Murdoch and Turner will sign. It also makes for secure employment. They will “spin” this story till the American audience can’t differentiate between Sharon the war criminal and Sharon the warrior king decimating Palestinian “criminals and terrorists”. They will parse it out in confusing 30-second “news” segments and clever sound bites. And they will make appeals to the lowest instincts of Americans by serving them an ample portion of inciteful anti-Arab bigotry. Get ready for a blizzard of a snow job to sanitize Sharon by demonizing the Palestinians.
The only possible savior for the Palestinians is a robust Arab and European repudiation of Sharon and his criminal past. America will need to be roped to the bandwagon when there is no other recourse. All that song and dance about how Sharon has changed is of no consequence. He is a war criminal and he should be treated as one. The endless years of willful denial about Milosovic’s crimes should serve as a recent reminder that appeasement of Israeli intransigence will only serve to prolong the agony of their victims.
It will be very instructive to watch the Jewish lobby and the media titans as they go about the task of sanitizing Sharon the war criminal, canonizing Barak the assassin and demonizing their Palestinian victims.
They must be having a few bitter cups of coffee in the cafes of Vienna and wandering why every Austrian was made to pay a price for the xenophobic antics of Haider and Waldheim’s war time service in Nazi occupied Greece. Pinochet’s lawyers must be reworking the defense strategy with a new “what about Sharon?” twist. In Belgrade, Milosovic, currently under house arrest, must be pleading with Kostunica to also use a “Sharon” alibi instead of handing him over to the Hague. Every war criminal in the world must be sleeping easy, knowing that Sharon’s election sets a legal and political precedent that overturns all the gains made in the last decade at delivering justice to war criminals.
Mr. Ahmed Amr is Editor of NileMedia.com in Seattle and a regular contributor to Media Monitors Network (MMN)