Much has been said to marginalize President Yasser Arafat. Get rid of him and all will be fine claim the Israelis and rightwing conservatives in our country.
But little has been said about Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. In fact, while the rest of the world has demonized this man, we have chosen to ignore his past and present. The Court in Belgium has been holding hearings into war crimes charges for his role in the massacre of 2,000 Palestinians and Lebanese at the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps. Even Israel’s own Kahan Commission found evidence of his responsibility.
In 1953, there was the infamous massacre of Palestinians in the village of Qibya. In 2002, there are credible reports of a massacre in the Jenin refugee camp. The prevention of human rights relief agencies and journalists has further aroused suspicions that the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) is hiding something. Amnesty International has formally accused the IDF of war crimes.
Let us not forget that it was Sharon’s “victory dance” on Haram al Sharif or the Temple Mount, which was the straw that broke the camel’s back and represented the beginning of the Palestinian Uprising. Surrounded by no less than 1,000 troops, Sharon waltzed on the controversial site amidst appeals to then Prime Minister Ehud Barak not to allow the provocative visit.
Soon after, the Israeli electorate voted Sharon into Office with the belief that he could bring them security and an end to the Uprising for Palestinian freedom. But, those of Palestinian descent knew otherwise: the “Butcher” was going to bring the whole situation to the bloodiest climax. Indeed, the result has been unprecedented bloodshed on Palestinians and Israelis alike.
few weeks ago, Arab nations offered Israel an olive branch. The message was simple: abide by UN Resolution 242 and withdraw from all Israeli Occupied Territories in exchange for normalized relations. The response was to invade the West Bank and wreak devastation, which one Italian journalist described as “post-WWII.”
And according to one Israeli coalition ally, plans have been drawn up by Sharon to annex 50% of the West Bank. It seems that Sharon has forgotten one simple concept: the success of a plan is as good as the efforts of the parties involved to ensure its access. And that is not going to happen.
Palestinians did not accept the so-called “generous” plan of Barak, which would have maintained 80% of illegal Israeli settlements and resulted in a Palestinian state that resembled Swiss cheese. Why on earth would they accept Sharon’s proposed shenanigans?
It is time for Israelis to protest against Sharon’s policies and the man himself. That left-wing individuals like Nobel Peace Prize winner, Shimon Peres, willingly remain in the Israeli government should greatly alarm the peaceniks in Israel. It has certainly alarmed the Nobel committee in Norway, which recently expressed its dismay at Peres for acquiescing to the Israeli government’s human rights violations.
It is time for Israelis to demonstrate the courage shown recently by the 417+ Israeli men who refuse to serve in an Occupying army “that humiliates.” It is time for Israelis to embrace the report of Israeli human rights organization, B’tselem, which discussed trigger-happy troops and the intentional killings of civilians.
Some say that Sharon has a tough job, as do its soldiers. ‘If only the Palestinians would choose the route of non-violence.’ Interestingly, the IDF had recently taken over the offices of Dr. Mustafa Barghouti é a well-known non-violence advocate. According to a fellow employee, “The whole place bears witness of random vandalism: Shaving cream was sprayed in a big pile in the bathroom, Hebrew graffiti on the walls read: ‘This eating area is for whores,’ and a pornographic videotape in Hebrew was left behind. Photos of Dr. Barghouti have been burnt with cigarettes and bullet holes shot in his head.” Dirty underwear was left in the bathrooms, holes were left in walls, and computers were destroyed. It is difficult to rationalize all of this in the name of security.
When Sharon was first elected, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said that the Arab World would compare Sharon to Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic and that Israel would be treated like Serbia. Their line of defense, already cited in Israeli newspapers, was to blame Palestinians. The prophecy more or less proved to be true, except on one major count: the Arab World didn’t have to do anything to portray Sharon as Milosevic. Sharon did it on his own. And so it seems that the Palestinian and Arab prophecies also came true.
Sherri Muzher, who holds a Jurist Doctor in International and Comparative Law, is a Palestinian-American activist and free lance journalist.