www.cosmopolis.ch
No. 14, February 2001
Deutsche Ausgabe  Archiv  Kunst  Film  Musik  Geschichte  Politik  Lebensart  Reisen
English edition  Archives  Art  Film  Music  History  Politics  Lifestyle  Travel

Copyright 2001  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.

Ariel Sharon
Israel's new Prime Minister - a biography
election of February 6, 2001: Ariel Sharon 62.5%, Ehud Barak 37.4%
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Article added on February 13, 2001

 
New Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who had crashed his opponent from the Likud Party in February's election, has invited Ehud Barak to become Defense Minister and Shimon Peres to take over as Minister of Foreign Affairs. The idea of a government of national unity seems to be the best solution possible right now, with Peace Nobel Prize winner Peres as the best choice to help calming down a situation which is in danger to go definitively out of control. Although more than once in history, a hawk has turned into a dove, as the example of the assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Rabin has shown, it is doubtful that Sharon, the "Bulldozer", will be such a politician.
 
Negotiations with Palestinian leaders won't be easy because Sharon remains inflexible on key points. Regarding Jerusalem, the Prime Minister said that it has been "the capital of the Jewish people for the past 3,000 years" and that it is "the united and indivisible capital of Israel", "for all eternity". This is no basis for a future agreement and shows Sharon's bizarre understanding of history. Sharon also puts in doubt Camp David as a basis for peace negotiations.
 
Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat is a man who has only partly managed to step from guerilla leader to head of state. Corruption, lack of transparency and absence of rule of law reign in his "empire". Not only Hamas and Hizbollah are out of his control, even his own Fatah does not always seem to follow Arafat.
 
On both sides, the Israeli and the Palestinian, imbalanced people seem to have gained the upper hand. Jerusalem could be a city uniting peoples and religions. Jews, Christians and Muslim could set a sign of tolerance. Instead, terror and dogmatism reign. The number of rational politicians and "simple" citizens seems to decline from day to day.
 
People around the world wonder how the Israeli people could prefer Sharon over Barak. There are multiple reasons: A lot of Israeli do not trust Arafat. They were afraid that Barak was about to make too many concessions. Arafat himself was badly advised to turn down offers Barak made in recent months. Barak's coalition was not very trustworthy either. The ultra-orthodox Shas-Party blackmailed the government to satisfy the demands of its clientele. In August 2000, Foreign Minister David Levy stepped down because of Barak's concessions to Arafat. Last but not least, Barak neglected domestic politics, especially unemployment and criminality. And the 13% of Israeli Arabs who had voted with 95% for Barak in May 1999 refused to follow him once more. Massive abstentions in the February election resulted from this. Hope in this deadlock between Israelis and Palestinians may come from the new American administration, with Secretary of State Colin Powell starting to travel the region at the end of February.
 
Ariel Sharon (Scheinermann) was born in Palestine in 1928. At the age of fourteen, he joined the Haganah, the Jewish underground military organization (1920-1948). During the War of Independence (1948), he commanded an infantry company. In 1953, he founded and led the special "commando 101" unit which carried out retaliatory operations. Sharon's unconventional methods cost a lot of lives. In 1956, he was appointed commander of a paratroop corps and in the Sinai Campaign, he commanded the conquest of the Mitla peak, which involved heavy losses. Officers under his command revolted against him. An investigation into the refusal to obey orders followed. In 1957, Sharon attended the Camberley Staff College in Great Britain. From 1958 to 1962, he served as infantry brigade commander, later as infantry training academy commander and attended Law School at Tel Aviv University. In 1964, he was appointed head of the Northern Command Staff and, in 1966, head of the Army Training Department. In 1967, he commanded an armored division in the Six Day War, where he showed tactical brilliance. In 1969, he became head of the Southern Command Staff. In the 1970s, he submitted the Gaza Strip to Israeli military control with ruthless methods. Sharon resigned from the army in June 1972, but was recalled to active military service in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War when he commanded a tank division. His crossing of the Suez canal with his tank division proved decisive in the war. At an early point in time, he favored the civil administration of the Sinai by Egypt and employed himself to achieve good relations with Cairo. Sharon's frequent refusal to obey orders hindered him from rising to the top of the military.
 
In 1973, Sharon initiated the founding of the Likud block, composed by right-wing and center-right parties. In December 1973, he was elected to the Knesset and favored negotiations with the PLO. He objective was not to integrate the Palestinians into Israel, but to push them into Jordan in order to bring down the King's regime. In 1974, Sharon became a member of Menachem Begin's Cherut party. In 1975, Sharon served for a short time as Yitzhak Rabin's Security Adviser. In 1977, he was again elected to the Knesset for the Shlomzion Party, founded by him because of divergences with Rabin. Following the elections, he joined the Herut party and was appointed Minister of Agriculture by Prime Minister Begin. Sharon pushed for the settlement in Cisjordan, trying to hinder a later secession by the occupied territories. He had doubts regarding the peace process with Egypt but finally ordered the clearing of the city of Yamit and its return to Egypt. Today, Sharon considers this his most important error. Sharon was against the Camp David agreement of September 1978 which foresaw an autonomous status for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and opened up the road to the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty of 1979.
 
From 1981 to 1983, he served as Minister of Defense. In June 1982, Sharon started the War against Lebanon. He is said to have misled the entire cabinet more than once. He declared the clearing of a 40 km strip on the border his primary goal but secretly, he is said to have prepared a broad-based war against Lebanon with the objective of installing a pro-Israeli regime and chasing or destroying the PLO. In September 1982, one day after the assassination of Lebanon's newly elected President, Bashir Gemayel, Sharon gave Phalange access to the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Chatila near Beirut. They were supposed to find alleged terrorists but committed a massacre in which between 700 and 2000 Palestinians were murdered. A commission in Israel investigated Sharon's role in these events. The judges accused him of an important wrong decision without holding him directly responsible for the massacre. Sharon had to leave his office and was declared unfit to ever hold the office of Minister of Defense again. But he remained a member of the cabinet without a portfolio. Even today, Sharon calls the War in Lebanon a justified invasion.
 
In 1984, Sharon became Minister of Trade and Industry in the government of national unity. In 1986, he moved into an apartment in the Muslim part of Jerusalem, one of the reasons for the outbreak of the first Intifada. In 1992, Sharon switched to the post of Minister of Housing and Construction, where he remained until 1992. In both positions, he pursued a protectionist policy which proved disastrous for the Israeli economy. He also opposed the recovery program instigated by Prime Minister Shimon Peres which freed Israel from hyperinflation. As Minister of Housing and Construction, he favored the construction of thousands of prefabricated houses for remote villages. They remained unoccupied and cost the state billions. In the 13th Knesset, Sharon served on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Sharon was one of those within the Likud who opposed Rabin's peace plan. In this heated climate, Rabin was finally assassinated. In the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, Sharon served as Minister of National Infrastructure from 1996 to 1998 and as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1998 to 1999, until Barak's electoral victory. In the position as Foreign Minister, Sharon favored relations with Russia to the detriment of the strategic alliance with the United States. He was re-elected into the 15th Knesset in May 1999 and serves as temporary chairman of the Likud party since the resignation of Netanyahu. Last September, he visited the Temple Mount which was the reason for the outbreak of the second Intifada. As one can easily understand, the widower with two sons, Ariel Sharon, is nicknamed "Bulldozer". He represents a current within Zionism which is in favor of building "Erez-Israel", a "Greater Israel" within biblical borders.
 
On June 14, 2004 we have moved the biographies of Ehud Barak, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat to independent pages.
 

On February 3, 2002, Sami Aldeeb, doctor of laws, a Christian of Palestinian origin, sent us the following letter: A wall or Justice around Jerusalem?
 
Newspapers report that Israeli politicians are planning to build a wall around Jerusalem to improve security for the city. Such a plan proves that these politicians are not able or don't like to understand what are the reasons of insecurity in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel.
 
There are two main reasons behind the insecurity in Israel. The first is the injustice. Let us remember that Israel has destroyed 385 Palestinian villages, including the village of Emmaus, which has been razed by Israeli-American bulldozers and transformed into a picnic place called Canada Park. The inhabitants of these villages have been expelled and many of them live in 61 concentrations camps as cattle inside Palestine/Israel or in the surrounding countries. Instead of allowing their return to their lands, Israel continues its policy of destruction, humiliation, occupation and killing. Daily Israeli-American bulldozers, protected by the Israeli Army, are razing houses and pushing the population into despair. Those that Israeli politicians call "terrorists" are the sons of those desperate refugees.
 
The second reason is linked with the personality of Mr. Sharon. This man is thirsty of blood and destruction. He proved it in the occupation of Beirut and the massacres of Sabra and Shatilla, and now in the West Bank and Gaza. As this instinct is contagious, it is extending as rabies among Israeli generals as well as among the Palestinian hopeless youngsters.
 
Instead of creating a wall around Jerusalem, transforming the city into a large prison for its inhabitants, it would be less expensive and more efficient to build four walls around Mr. Sharon or to send him back to his country of origin, Russia. This will improve the security not only to Jerusalem, but also to all Israel/Palestine and the Middle East region. In the same time, Israeli politicians must end the occupation, the humiliation and the destruction, and find a solution to the Palestinian refugees based on justice and not frustration. This means that Israel has to allow them to return to their lands and to construct their 385 destroyed villages. 2700 years ago, the prophet Isaiah said: "Peace will be the fruit of justice" (32:17). Without justice, there will never be peace in the Middle East.

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On April 18, 2002, Alon Weinberg sent us the following feedback:

 
I am talking on behalf of those Israeli people who truly seek peace. I believe most people in Israel agree that the best solution is two separate countries. Why then Israel occupies a territory, which brings no benefit but destruction to both sides? The answer is that Israeli people feel that they have the right to achieve peace without risking their lives.
 
I truly believe that most Israeli people want true peace and are also willing to pay a high price for it. In reality however the right wing parties in Israel are in a permanent growth. How can this trend be explained? Why a democratic country uses such a policy? I think that the main key is to understand the point of view both sides in the conflict. I do feel that many people don't understand Israel policy because they don't see the situation in a wide perspective.
 
The problem has not started today. The occupied territories are a result of a war between Egypt Syria Jordan and Iraq against Israel. In this war the Arab nations (who participated in that war) clearly declared that the war goal is the destruction of Israel. Later on more wars in order to destroy Israel, and of course I can't mention here all the wars and terror acts and I am not trying to write a history article. The point is that the hostility against Israel in the last 50 years includes
so many terror acts war and anti-Israeli propaganda that the Israeli people lost completely confidence in the Arab nations.
 
Israel is in a very difficult situation. It is surrounded by hostile countries (some of them still don't accept Israel existence) and also under daily terror threat. Some of the worldwide pressure on Israel especially Arab extremists propaganda only brings frustration and loss of trust in the Israeli people hearts.
 
I do accept that Palestinians have rights as humans and as a nation, but most people in Israel feel that Arab nation foreign policy is just in order to condemn and attack Israel and not in order to try and solve the problem.
 
In the past when the territories weren't under Israeli occupation the Palestinians weren't accepted by any Arab country and had no rights at all. They remained in refugee camps when the area was part of Jordan and Egypt and were also killed in a brutal way when they showed any resistance (in Jordan thousands Palestinians were killed in the event called "Black October"). Although today those countries are so "sympathetic" with the Palestinians.
 
How can a democratic country deal with terrorists that have no moral boundary? The problem is that some of the Arab countries support terrorists that try to kill Israelis civilians and at the same time accuse Israel for unmoral conduct after they try to capture those terrorists while they use Palestinian civilians for protection.
 
The main point in what I am trying to say is that Israel truly wants peace, but before it is urged to make big compromises and before asking Israel to trust the Palestinian people and more Arab countries, people in Israel should feel secure. They should feel that the other side intention is for real peace, in practical means and not only in vocal words, in Arabic and not only in English by diplomatic resources.
 
I think that it is unfair that people who live in secure countries without similar problems rush to criticize Israel and think that the only problem is Israel reluctance to withdraw from the territories. That's easy to say when you live elsewhere not when you live in Tel-Aviv and need to trust people that support terror and declare that their real intention is not only a state for the Palestinians but the destruction of Israel. (And of course there are also many Palestinians with real peace intentions).
 
The Arab world including the Palestinians should stop the terror and the propaganda and show that they want real peace so the Israeli people will feel that they can make peace without risking their lives. Israeli people point of view on the conflict is shaped not from the last month media but from a wider perspective.

 

 

www.cosmopolis.ch
No. 14, February 2001
Deutsche Ausgabe  Archiv  Kunst  Film  Musik  Geschichte  Politik  Lebensart  Reisen
English edition  Archives  Art  Film  Music  History  Politics  Lifestyle  Travel

Copyright 2001  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.