Real targets of a politician never can be recognized by his declared positions or talks. Rather they can be concluded from his practice and real actions. Concerning Ariel Sharon, we have to notice, that main attention of the media is turned toward his declarations – much less toward the internal logic of his policy in practice. People ask if does Sharon have a clear policy that he means to realise? An end that he leads us toward it? Does he indeed have a strategy?
To find an answer to these questions, let’s see what has been done in reality under his leadership.
1 – From the very moment that the offices and headquarters of the Palestinian Security Organizations became the main target of Israeli retaliations – or just aerial attacks – and the same time the P.A. was demanded for decisive struggle against “terrorists”, the contradiction between these two factors became obvious: If you want the P.A. to fight against “terrorists”, you can’t smash its executive organs. If you smash them, under a somewhat vague claim of “punishment” but the same time keep on demanding – under threat of ultimatum – to arrest every “terrorist” who fights against Israel, this seeming contradiction can have only one interpretation: You present to the P.A. a demand that can make sense, but actually you care to prevent the means to accomplishment it (even if they were ready to). On this way you can justify continuous destruction (“punishment”é) of the P.A. and its executive organs.
2 – Along the last year several times the sides came – under international pressure – to cease fire agreement. Time after time when level of violence started to diminish, Israeli assault on well targeted local military or political leaders brought an outburst of Palestinian terror to the streets of Israel. As this policy of the Sharon government turned out to be rather insistent, hard to believe that it was incidental. Rather can be concluded, that Sharon – just like the Hamas on the Palestinian side – never really was interested in reducing the level of violence, on the contrary: he did everything possible to increase the height of the flames. Why? We shall see later on.
3 – The closure and siege that are put on all the Palestinian population since more than one year, can’t stop terror actions of suicide bombers inside Israel. This opinion was openly declared by many of the Israeli military and security service commanders. On the other hand they are very efficient in preventing from the P.A. governmental and executive organs to function. So maybe this is their main purpose?
4 – Obvious conclusion from the above mentioned policy (preventing functioning of the Palestinian administration and smashing infrastructures of its executive organs) can be only one: the undeclared but very clear policy of the Israeli government, headed by Ariel Sharon has been since its establishment – escalation of violence toward a short term target: disintegration of the Palestinian Authority.
Toward the end of March this policy seemed to reach most of its goals.
5 – Similar logic led the brutal invasion of the Israeli army into Palestinian towns and refugee camps: the Palestinian security forces contain some 40.000 “policemen” that actually use as the regular army of the P.A.
Up to now these units didn’t take part in fighting against Israel, although some of them joined the political paramilitary organizations ( belonging to the Fatah, Hamas, Popular front and the Islamic Jihad ) as individuals. Sharon and the Israeli military command understand that regular army meets great difficulties in fighting against guerilla, so they tried to drag the Palestinian regular forces into direct struggle, in which the Israeli army’s military superiority could be expressed and last remnants of the Palestinian executive forces would be eliminated.
At least in first round of the fighting this policy failed: the Palestinians refused to play the role that Sharon meant to give them – they abandoned the towns and camps and didn’t confront the Israeli military machine. Instead they escalated the terror attacks against Israeli civilian population.
These days the Israeli army renewed its invasion on the Palestinian civilian population – and on the little that was left of the Palestinian Authority. They believe, that “what couldn’t be achieved by power – will be achieved by more power”é Hard to prevent a feeling, that this is the Sharon Government’s response to a
comprehensive peace proposal that has been presented by all the Arab world a couple of days before.
6 – If elimination of the P.A. will be completed (something that seems almost sure), we have to ask ourselves and our government: now – Quo Vadis? Where do we go? Do Sharon and his partners mean indeed to strengthen their grasp in the (re)Occupied Territories, with its Palestinian population and to establish “de facto” the “Grand Eretz Yisrael” – the Great Israel on a land populated by 60% Jews and 40% Palestinians, a land in which the Palestinians will be majority within the next decade?
Hard to believe. There are rather distinct signs, that Sharon and his ultra – rightist partner mean to “solve” this dilemma by what is called in the Israeli political jargon “Transfer” – expelling the Palestinian population, all or at least great part of it to East side of the Jordan river – into the Kingdom of Jordan. By the International terminology this is called – “ethnic cleansing”.
1 – When Sharon invaded Lebanon in 1982, his far reaching goal was to “reorganize” the Middle East.
This grand Plan never was concealed by him, on the contrary: in a lecture held in the Military Academy for High Commanders in February 1982 he presented it in detail to an audience of high rank officers. The plan was called – “Operation Pines”. Part of the plan was establishment of a Palestinian state on account of Kingdom of Jordan, deportation of the Palestinian refugees from South Lebanon to North Jordan and to “encourage” emigration of the Palestinian population from the “West Bank” and “Gaza Strip” to this newly established Palestinian State. On this way meant Sharon to give the Palestinians a sovereign state – and to accomplish the dream of “Great Israel”.
2 – Sharon used all Governmental positions during the last 20 years in which he was appointed, for systematical creation of facts all over the West Bank (and to some extent in the Gaza strip) to prevent any possibility of a viable Palestinian sovereignty. All along this period he spread among the Palestinian towns and villages, Jewish settlements in a well-planned way, to split up the Palestinian territories in a way to prevent any continuity between the slices. At the present, the number of settlers and deployment of settlements may bring to such situation.
3 – Sharon’s conclusion from failure of his megalomaniac plan in the Lebanon war was – as it seems – that such a far reaching program can be achieved only if supported by an overwhelming majority of the Jewish public in Israel. This make the “Unity Government” so important for him. He understands that only on this way can he promote his strategic plan: expelling – all or most – of the Palestinian people East of Jordan river.
Is it possible in practice?
All of us have deep inhibitions to admit a scenario, when its consequences can be so horrible. Most of us prefer to say – “here this never can happen”é”The world will stop it”éetc. etc. If we accept the possibility of such a forecast, moral consequence is that we shall have to do something to prevent it – otherwise we accomplice the crime. Fine, to do, but – what??
Most of us can’t face such a feeling of guilt, so we prefer to deny or to repress that is actually so clearé
Well – history of the last 100 years teach us – every horror is possible!
Now – let’s see some facts:
1 – In time of national crisis, when individuals lose their feeling of personal security, without seeing any hope for a way out – people are ready to most lunatic acts, including handling over their fate to madmen that promise simple solutions to their fears and their loss of security. Must be blind not to see that the Israeli society is now on the verge of such an existential crisis. Loss of personal security as resulted from Palestinian terror attacks aimed to Israeli civilians, economic crisis, record unemployment – all these make the majority of Israeli Jews ripe to accept messianic leadership and lunatic policy.
2 – “Transfer” became a legitimate issue in the Israeli public discourse. In public polls held on first days of March, 46% of the Israeli Jewish population supported expelling of the Palestinian people. 31% supported expelling the Israeli Arab population as wellé I doubt if many of this mass thought over, what it meant from moral aspect, from the aspect of possible number of victims – Jewish and Palestinian, from aspect of the future of Israel, from aspect of our status among the nations – and from aspect of our chance to integrate peacefully, in foreseeable future, into the region we live in. They just don’t want anymore to see Arabs around them, and if someone promises to accomplish this – they are all but happy to follow him.
3 – Sharon’s policy is directed toward increasing the despair among the Palestinian people: closure on every town and village, preventing from the population almost every mobility, even to neighbour towns or villages, disintegration of civil and social services, smashing the economy and creating a level of 60% unemployment produce more and more people who are ready to blow up themselves – just for despair, hatred and revenge. If your purpose is to expel them – this is the right way.
Inside Israel despair, inflamed by mass media is growing as well; people are afraid to go to shopping, to markets, to pubs or to parties. Palestinian suicide bombers may reach them everywhere. Economy is shrinking, the middle-class and lower middle-class slip down, level of unemployment crossed the 10%, in some peripheral towns it is over 14%, scores of shops, factories bankrupt every day. Racism and support in ideas of “transfer” are growing fast. This is an excellent background to create national agreement around a policy of expelling the Palestinian people.
Is this possible? Just so?
a – Technically expelling some 3 million people is possible. Width of the West Bank is about 80 km. On feet it can be crossed in two days. Pressure, threats, massive demolition of houses, some limited massacres definitely can bring the Palestinian population – all or at least most of it, to find itself within one week on East bank of the Jordan river.
b – Such a plan can be realised only when proper local and international circumstances exist. For example, if the U.S. will be busy in Iraq, the same time Israel escalates its attack on the Palestinian population, the reaction will send masses of suicide bombers to the streets of Israel, this will be followed by popular movement among the terrified Jewish population in demand of expelling all the Palestinians – let’s add to this growing tension, maybe limited war on the Lebanese border, perhaps unrest among the Arab population inside Israel – not too difficult to draw a scenario in which mass expelling will be possible.
c – Examples of disasters on similar scale can be found all over the world along the last decade: Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, the Kurdish People, Chechnia etc. International intervention was always hesitant, mostly came too late. I have no reason to suppose that here this will be different. Even if U.N., The U.S. or E.U. would mean to intervene, technically this can’t be done in less than 3 – 4 weeks, That time the West Bank – and maybe the Gaza strip too, will be empty of Palestinians.
Will the Israeli Left do nothing ?
a – No. we draw a scenario, in which Emergency regulations will be activated, civil rights will be – at least partly – suspended and what will be the most important: policy of “transfer” will enjoy mass support among the Israeli Jewish population.
b – Even these days, the Israeli Left (rather say – Peace Camp) hardly exist as politically meaningful factor. There are some small groups and individuals, that try to manage desperate struggle against the nationalist and racist spirit – which many times can be called Fascism. It makes sense that a few hundred or even few thousand of them will try to stop the apparatus of Transfer. So what? Up to now there are several thousand Palestinians in jail and in detention camps – in the first Intifada there were much more – I’m sure that they will find room for a few hundred – or thousand – “Leftists” as well.
a – The above described scenario is not a deterministic one. Although I have no doubt about the far reaching goal of Ariel Sharon and the extreme right wing among the Israeli Jewish public, different local and international forces may have impact on efforts to prevent its accomplishment. First of all, the Peace People in Israel have to be aware of Sharon’s target and not to escape to dreams of convenient doubts and illusions. The awakening can be too late and too horrible.
b – We have to struggle against the devastating slogans of “national unity”, “we must stand united” etc. Their real meaning is – don’t oppose the way on which we are led toward expelling our neighbour People, destruction of our democracy and endangering the future existence of our country.
c – In this context, there is an enormous importance to refusal of solders to serve in the Palestinian territories. Only open split inside the Army can stop the lunatic plans of Sharon. The military leadership is very much aware of public atmosphere – especially inside the Army, above all among the reserve soldiers. Refusal of several thousand reservists to take part in this game can arise strong opposition among the chief commanders of the Israeli Army, to Sharon’s plans.
d – Mobilization of those parts among the Jewish people abroad, who understand that supporting Israel doesn’t mean to get along with every madness of its Government, rather they understand what is the real interest of Israel: not messianic fantasy, no some more land, but creation of a safe and prosperous place for the Jewish people. This can be reached only if our neighbours also will enjoy safety and prosperity. As simple as this.
e – The most important mean in short run to prevent deterioration is international pressure, even intervention, before the worst will happen. Every effort to mobilize external intervention into the Israeli – Palestinian conflict that is escalating toward regional disaster has enormous importance.
And if in spite of all this will happen – don’t say “I didn’t know”é.