Monday, January 09, 2006

Sharon, the Middle East: Bonjour Tristesse

An "Habitual Liar"











Jim Henley, a libetarian soulmate who tried for quite a while persuade me to launch a blog and who runs the popularUnqualified offerings referred to the "unsentimental" comments that have been made by Diana Moon on her Letter from Gothamand by your humble servant about Sharon. As a libertarian, Jim can understand why I'm not very sentimental about politicians in general. I only cry when I lose a close family member or friend and sometimes I do get depressed when certain politicans come to power. I never shed a tear about individuals who steal our money aka tax us and who send us to get killed in wars. Sorry. However, Jonathan Edelstein on The Head Heeb in a somewhat "kvetchy" piece of writing admits that "I find it difficult to write about [Sharon's medical condition], as if I were facing the loss of a family member." Hope you'll get over it. He also gives this long spiel about how he was once anti-Sharon and pro-Rabin but that "in the past two years, it's become clear how much Sharon's story was Israel's - that of the old warrior who was there from the beginning but ultimately realized the sacrifices that had to be made for peace." Well, all of that hasn't become so clear to me. Sharon, as Israel's Founding Father David Ben Gurion once pointed out, was a "habitual liar." He and his sons, according to recent investigations in Israel are also crooks. More important of course, Sharon was the guy who led Israel into its worst military dissaster in Lebanon, in which so many young Israelis as well as Arabs were killed for no other reason than to fullfill Sharon's bloody military fantazy, which turned into Israel's own Vietnam. And he was indeed responsible for the building up of many of the settlements that he now wants to tear down (maybe). I'm supposed to admire someone who decided that it was becoming not very cost-effective to protect a few Jewish settlers amidst hundreds of thousands of angry Arabs, who took that action because the majority of Israelis wanted him to do that, and who helped produce that shmaltzy Gaza-Withdrawal media event? And I'm not sure what Rabin would have done and I'll never know because he was murdered at a time when Sharon, Netanyhau and the rest of the Likud had conducted an ugly campaign of incitement aginst him. I've written more about Sharon in an earlier post and also posted a Sharon profile by Uri Avnery. Jim is correct when he argues that "in a reasonable world it wouldn’t matter much what I or any other American thought about [Sharon's medical condition and legacy]. In this world, however, the United States government made a concerted effort starting in the mid-1940s to become at least tangentially responsible for everything that happened anywhere in the Middle East" and so Americans should care. But I'm getting a little sick with the pre-occupation of top Washington’s officials and pundits with the health of this one individual. Headlines in newspapers: “Sharon Resumes Breathing, Moves Hand, Leg;” “Sharon Starts Breathing but Still Critical;” “Sharon’s Medically induced coma;” “PM’s Associates Optimistic; Say he Coughed, Moved.” Or the never-ending speculation about who would replace Sharon as head of a new political party he formed, Kadima (with the American media providing long bios of almost every Israeli political apparatchik)? And then there are these obituaries (?) or epitaphs, long on words and sentimental accounts of Sharon’s life story, including interviews with his high-school teachers. Hey, the Sky is not Falling. Even if Mickey Mouse leads Kadima, they'll win the election because the party's views represents the consensus in Israel.

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