When Stephen Cole of Al-Jazeera asked Ian Black, the distinguished editor at The Guardian of the UK his views on the death of Ariel Sharon, “this widely admired statesman,” the editor simply shot back: “Admired by who?” And Cole had no answer, but he was not alone in this dilemma; it was something that had thrown many an eminent person into a quandary of sorts. World leaders, aware of the atrocities Sharon had committed but mortally afraid of Zionism, had to resort to various subterfuges to avoid calling him great without appearing to denigrate his memory.
There is really nothing to denigrate in the life of this killer, because it was not for nothing that he was known as the Butcher of Beirut. But to be fair to him, we must also acknowledge that the Middle East has been quite distinguished as butcher territory: there was Hafez al-Asad, the Butcher of Hama and Aleppo, there was King Hussein of Jordan, the Black September Butcher; there was Saddam Hussein, the Butcher of Baghdad and Halabja; and there are crown butchers who use religion to wipe out their own and other peoples.
The only difference between them and Sharon is that he was a colonial land-usurper, killing the owners of the land and justifying it with a racist ideology on which the state he was defending was founded. The Arab World should have been grateful to Sharon for wasting no time in telling and showing it that he didn’t consider it anything more than a vermin—goyim that should be eradicated to clear land for he-people. Their sayings, their actions and even their inactions—from Vladimir Jabotinsky, to Menachem Begin to Ariel Sharon—are enough to show Arabs the new game plan.
Like all the other Zionist leaders, he began military service in the Haganah, one of the terror organisations former by them to send Arabs out of Palestine—or, if they stayed—kill them. After 1948, the Hagana joined other terrorist organisations to become the Israeli Defence Force.
In 1953, Sharon led the infamous Commando Unit 101 on a raid to the town of Qibya, blowing up its houses and killing about 70 of the Arab villagers, in a style calculated to frighten by inflicting maximum. In many ways, Sharon simply did to Qibya what Menachem Begin, his mentor predecessor-terrorist, had done to Deir Yassin five years earlier, when the future prime minister led his Irgun gang to massacre the entire population of the village, including all its livestock and poultry.
In 1956, he ordered the massacre of all the Egyptian soldiers who had already surrendered to the unit he commanded in the battle with Egyptian forces at the Mitla Pass in the Sinai. And in June 1967, after Israeli forces had captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Sinai, Sharon ordered the massacre of 1,000 Egyptian soldiers.
In 1973, he defied superior orders and led the Israeli Army to surround and cut off Egypt’s Third Army, an ac that turned the Israeli impending defeat to a victory. But ten years later, as defence minister, he led the army into the disastrous invasion of Lebanon in pursuit of Palestinian forces. Even though they succeeded in expelling Palestinians to faraway Jordan, this move led to the creation of the Hizbullah that was to defeat Israel in 2000 and again in 2006, but both are portrayed by international media as an “Israeli withdrawal.”
Before the Israeli Army withdrew from Lebanon, Sharon was to commit his most infamous act—the assisted and premeditated massacre of Palestinian civilians—old men, women and children—in Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps by Christian Phalanges under his watch.
And Robert Fisk, the distinguished doyen of all foreign correspondents in the world, was there; and this was what he had to say: “But Sharon had anyway received an earlier American “green light” for his operation from Alexander Haig in the spring of 1982. After two months and almost 17,000 deaths, most of them civilians – the majority killed by Israeli gunfire and air attack – the PLO withdrew from Beirut under international protection, leaving their unarmed families behind. At which point Sharon announced that 2,000 “terrorists” remained in the Sabra and Chatila camps.
“A three-member commission of inquiry was set up, headed by Justice Kahan, president of the Israeli Supreme Court, to investigate the massacre. Its findings, released on February 8, 1983, concluded that the “Minister of Defence [Ariel Sharon] bears personal responsibility”, and that he should “draw the appropriate personal conclusions arising out of the defects revealed with regard to the manner in which he discharged the duties of his office.” The commission recommended that Begin remove Sharon from office if he did not resign. Sharon did resign, but was soon back in the cabinet as agricultural minister.”
Fisk predicted the election of Sharon as Israel’s prime minister; and then added: “Then he will be master of the most powerful nation in the Middle East; he will travel to America, he will visit the White House and shake hands with President George W Bush. But for everyone who stood in the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in Beirut on 18 September 1982, his name is synonymous with butchery; with bloated corpses and disembowelled women and dead babies, with rape and pillage and murder…”
And on September 28, 2000, in what was the height of provocation, Sharon, as opposition leader and accompanied by a battalion of bodyguards, barged into holy al-Aqsa compound, which the Zionists call the Temple Mount, in a bid to emphasize and dramatise Israel’s claim of sovereignty over it. There was outrage around the Muslim World and the Second Intifada by Palestinians disillusioned by the peace process erupted, just as Sharon or any ardent Zionist must have hoped.
Indeed, Sharon’s life, exploits and death can be a study in the goals, tactics and strategies of Zionism and it should be an eye-opener to those who don’t know it. As I.F. Stone, a leading Zionist in the US, said, Zionism is a phenomenon ill-understood by many of its enemies, and by an even greater percentage of its supporters. It cries for security but practices unending war. Zionism cannot exist without war, and, paradoxically, it cannot prosper without anti-Semitism. If all this sounds contradictory, it is because it is; and the truth is always between the lines of its contradictions, just as the life of Sharon, one of its chief exponents, demonstrated.
And if his life did not, at least his death ought to have brought to the fore for the Arab World to see and appreciate in clear terms—that Zionism is not ready for coexistence in the Holy Land, not even if its dominance is assured.
The late Professor Edward Said said Arabs ought to have listened more intently. “Joseph Weitz was the director of the Jewish National Land Fund…On December 19, 1940, he wrote: ‘It must be clear that there is no room for both peoples in this country…The Zionist enterprise so far…has been fine and good in its own time, and could do with ‘land buying’ — but this will not bring about the State of Israel; that must come all at once, in the manner of a Salvation (this is the secret of the Messianic idea); and there is no way besides transferring the Arabs from here to the neighbouring countries, to transfer them all; except maybe for Bethlehem, Nazareth and Old Jerusalem, we must not leave a single village, not a single tribe’…There were literally hundreds of such statements made by Zionists,” Said said.
Zionism turned Palestine into Israel using four different strategies: encouraging the emigration of Jews to Palestine, buying up the land, enlisting the superpowers to support and protect the Zionist enterprise—and then terrorism, to send Palestinians as far away from Palestine as fear will make them go. It is out for conquest and it will conquer all, especially if all the Arab World can boast of is its current duplicitous leadership.
In that case, Palestinians may as well resign themselves to the daily reality of a life of racism in the Occupied Territories, second-class citizenship in their ancestral land, confronted as they are by the daily use of excessive force against them and their womenfolk, brutality, carnage and destruction—and the insatiable, unending acquisition of more territory. If the Arab World is looking for peace, it has no partner; if it is looking for war, it has a superior; and if it has already surrendered, there is more to come—it is not a question of secure borders, it is a question of the land between Nile and Euphrates. That was what Sharon was telling them without mincing bullets—on the battlefield and off.
And the only people in the Middle East who could recover the land—Hamas and Hizbullah—the butchers are busy butchering them. They have not taken their lesson from the life or Sharon; and they will not take it even in his death.