ARIEL SHARON ROLLS THE DICE
Ariel Sharon's daring decision to uproot 25 Gaza and West Bank settlements -- civilian and military alike -- hasn't been "welcomed and appreciated by those near and far," as he had exuberantly and naively hoped. For his courage, the Israeli Prime Minister has been pilloried rather than praised both in
Of special concern is the mutiny Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is leading against
In a speech to the Knesset last Tuesday before the vote on disengagement,
It is not without political significance that Ariel Sharon has fought in all his country's defensive wars. Were it not for this Jewish Stonewall Jackson,
Most Israelis are descended from the Sephardi Jews expelled from
Fed up with being looked down upon and mistreated by the leftist rank-and-file European Ashkenazis that populate Labor, Sephardis, as scholar Meyrav Wurmser has pointed out, used the 2003 election to deal a political death blow to Labor. They were also sick and tired of the liberal domination of the media and judiciary and their politically correct assault on faith, tradition, and Zionism. More important than any of this, these Israelis were tired of being blown up on the streets by suicide bombers, while the WASPs -- "White Ashkenazis who Sympathize with Palestinians" -- hobnobbed with Yasser Arafat.
THE QUESTION THAT WILL decide Sharon's fate is this: Will Sephardi voters join him in rejecting the interpretation of the disengagement "as a shameful withdrawal under pressure" that "will increase the terror campaign, present Israel as weak, and will show our people as a nation unwilling to fight and to stand up for itself"? (As
The objections made by the Palestinian Authority (and its cheerleaders in Europe and
Wily adversaries that they are, the Palestinians immediately resorted to a "mediocre," yet devastatingly effective, argument to discredit a decision that could cost
Of course the PA and its allies have long insisted that the bustling towns erected by West Bank and
How bizarre then for the supposedly aggrieved Palestinians to complain about the manner in which their rights are being restored. Imagine a husband who decides one day to stop abusing his wife. Imagine further that his wife complains she wasn't consulted before the hitting stopped. Would we not be justified in thinking she was somehow invested in her own mistreatment?
Perhaps once the convalescing Arafat is replaced with a Palestinian leader not in the habit of promising that "a million shaheeds [martyrs] will break through to Jerusalem," as the Chairman recently avowed, Sharon's gesture will indeed serve to, as he put it, "reduce animosity, break through boycotts and sieges and advance us along the path of peace with the Palestinians and our other neighbors."
In his address to the Knesset,
I once said, during an argument with people from Gush Emunim, that I love them today, and will continue to like them tomorrow. I told them: you are wonderful pioneers, builders of the land, settlers on barren soil, in rain and through winter, through all difficulties. However, you have one weakness -- you have developed among yourselves a messianic complex.
You must remember that there were days, before you were born or were only small children, when other people risked their lives day and night, worked and toiled, made sacrifices and performed their tasks without a hint of a messianic complex. And I call on you today, my good friends from Gush Emunim, to perform your tasks with no less modesty than your predecessors, on other days and nights.
Were I a settler, I'd be angered by such demands for self-sacrifice, especially after building a home in a place I thought was mine -- planting trees, growing flowers, and giving birth to sons and daughters who know no other home. I might even point out that the Arab citizens of
But such cavils fly in the face of Realpolitik. If there is agreement on anything, it is that the settlers' fate has been sealed. Let us hope that, after demonstrating real leadership -- to say nothing of placing himself in great personal peril -- Ariel Sharon's Disengagement Plan is not likewise doomed.
©By ILANA MERCERNovember 5, 2004