Sharon Defies Bush
The AP headline gets it right: Sharon dismisses Bush Warning on Settlement Expansion.
I would have called it “large-scale land theft” rather than “settlement expansion,” but it comes to the same thing.
Wait a second. Isn’t that Ariel Sharon, whose government gets billions of dollars a year from the United States (who even gets some from your household if you are an American, whether you like it or not)? Doesn’t he owe us anything?
He doesn’t think so.
On September 11, the United States was struck a grievous and unexpected blow by a handful of fanatics. Their stated purpose was to punish the U.S. for its support of Israel’s crackdown on the Palestinians. Khalid Shaik Muhammad, among the masterminds of the operation, had wanted it moved up to April of 2001 to make the point that Israel’s actions of that spring were being punished.
What was the reaction of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to this horrific attack on the US? Was it at least caution, given the price Americans had paid for supporting his colonization and theft of land in the Occupied Territories? Was it a cooling-off period while we dug the bodies out of the rubble and assessed the likelihood of a further attack? Was it any show of respect at all for the needs of the United States at that parlous moment?
It was a “stepping up” of Israeli attacks on Palestinians!
The Advertiser, September 14, 2001
“Three die as tank raids stepped up”
ISRAELI tanks and bulldozers rolled into Jenin and Jericho in the West Bank early yesterday, shelling buildings and triggering gunfights that killed three Palestinians and wounded 18 . . . Amid the tensions, US Secretary of State Colin Powell called Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat late on Wednesday. Mr Arafat agreed to Mr Powell’s request that he meet Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, but no date was set for a meeting.
Well, then, you might think, at least Sharon would agree to talk and show some flexibility if he insisted on killing more Palestinians just days after the US was attacked?
September 15, 2001, The Washington Post:
HEADLINE: Sharon Defies Bush’s Request for Peace Talks;
Foreign Minister Is Ordered Not to Meet With Arafat as Planned on Sunday
Defying a request from the Bush administration, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today forbade his foreign minister, Shimon Peres, to meet Sunday with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. President Bush had telephoned Sharon earlier today urging him to renew talks with the Palestinians to end the year-long Middle East violence. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell also had called with a similar message. But Sharon, under pressure from hard-liners in his government, ruled out the meeting that Peres has been trying for weeks to arrange to discuss a cease-fire with Arafat.
But what would happen if Bush continued to press Sharon to cool it? What if Bush swung around and declared for a Palestinian state, in an attempt to outflank al-Qaeda in the Muslim world? Surely Sharon would see the light and accommodate an old ally, which had transferred tens of billions of dollars and lots of high-tech weaponry to Israel over the years?
The Scotsman, October 5, 2001
SHARON IN OUTBURST OVER US ‘APPEASING’ OF ARABS
THE Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, last night fired an angry broadside at the United States, likening its efforts to enlist moderate Arab countries in Washington’s war on terrorism to appeasement of Nazi Germany in 1938.
In caustic language seldom heard between the two allies, Mr Sharon charged that Washington, which has pressed his government to adhere to a ceasefire with the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, was being soft on Palestinian terrorism, which he defines as including attacks in the occupied territories, even as it pursues Osama bin Laden.
“We can only rely on ourselves and from now on we will only rely on ourselves,” Mr Sharon said, adding security forces would “take all necessary steps” to defend Israeli citizens and implying that US pressure for army restraint would be of no consequence.
“I turn to the United States and say don’t go back on the same mistakes as the democracies made in 1938. That is when Czechoslovakia was sacrificed for a convenient, temporary solution.
“Do not appease the Arabs on our account. Israel will not be Czechoslovakia. We will defend ourselves.”
So Sharon branded Bush a Chamberlain and the United States an appeaser because it pressured him to make peace with the Palestinians. You see, he didn’t think that his grabbiness had caused enough trouble in the world yet. He wanted to go on grabbing other people’s land and he wasn’t going to let the mere fact that he had helped drag the United States into a hot war with terrorists give him pause.
I remind you that Sharon bad-mouthed the United States just after September 11. It wasn’t any old time. The country was reeling. We were trying to understand what had happened. We were reaching out to Muslims who would be allies, like Pakistan and Egypt and Jordan. They were all telling us that the Muslim rank and file was angry about the Israeli predations in Palestine. Sharon in essence accused the 9/11 families who argued for the need to seek Middle East peace of being Chamberlains and appeasers.
Ariel Sharon must be among the most odious elected prime ministers now serving in the world. Guilty of numerous war crimes, from the 1982 invasion of Lebanon (which killed nearly 20,000), to ultimate responsibility for the massacre of unarmed Palestinian civilians by his Phalangist allies at Sabra and Shatila, to his recent policy of simply murdering persons he suspected of crimes, such as Sheikh Ahmad Yasin, the wheelchair-riding old clerical leader of Hamas. (Yasin may have deserved the death penalty, but there is no reason he could not have been arrested and tried. Just murdering people sets a bad example, aside from being illegal and a capital crime.)
Asking him nicely to abide by the US-backed road map for peace is not enough, obviously. Congress should cut him off without a dime until he stops stabbing the United States of America in the back with his aggressive expansionism.
And he should stop making enemies for the US among one billion Muslims who care about the fate of the Palestinians, just as 19th-century Americans cared about the fate of the Texans at the Alamo.