Ray Hanania’s Column
Ariel Sharon’s government policies continue to provoke the violence of the Middle East to new heights of carnage.
Sharon is very much like the arsonist who starts a fire then runs to report the fire by calling the fire department.
Like the arsonist, Sharon finds enjoyment in watching from his cowardly hiding place as the building burns. Arsonists often also come out from their hideous hiding places to offer assistance in fighting the fire and saving many of the innocent lives that are lost.
That is exactly what is happening in Palestine today. But, like the arsonist, Sharon is burning down his own neighborhood and he doesn’t care.
Sharon has placed Palestinian President Yasir Arafat under house arrest; undermined Arafat’s leadership and Arafat’s ability to control the West Bank and Gaza Strip; blocked Arafat’s travel to the Arab Summit in Beirut where the Arabs offered Israel the most generous peace proposal in Middle East history; and, has taken actions that continue to push Arab fanatics to even more horrendous acts of suicide violence and Israeli fanatics to target more Palestinian civilians and children.
And then, Sharon is the first to cry crocodile tears Sharon stands up and feigns pain for Israeli victims of suicide bombings while ignoring the hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians he is responsible for murdering and whose deaths the American media ignores.
Sharon pleads that his response to impose further restrictions on Arafat is the only way to get Arafat to do something to curtail the suicide bombings that not even the mighty women-beating Israeli army can stop.
Sharon openly calls for actions that will result in Arafat’s own murder, using inflammatory rhetoric he knows only helps to incite the region into more violence.
Yet, Sharon remains silent in the face of the most generous peace offer ever made by the Arab World to the Israelis, to give the state of Israel full recognition and establish normal relations all in exchange for returning land that ever international legal authority says Israel must return.
But, Israel’s current government doesn’t want to return the land. And Israel’s current government doesn’t really want peace. And Israel’s current government is a government of arsonists who continue to play with matches believing that they can control the flames.
While Israel’s wild-eyed apologists are dancing to Sharon’s insanity, denouncing the suicide bombings and murder, they are deathly silent about Israel’s actions which have resulted in the same if not worse acts of civilian murder and carnage.
But a Palestinian life has always been held to a lower value by Sharon, his right-wing allies, and the American news media which takes Sharon’s off-key chorus and turns it into a Wagnerian opera.
President George W. Bush, the man who could barely make it through his college political science classes and still has a problem deciphering the fundamentals of foreign policy, sits back like Nero. He is the neighbor who peaks through a window afraid to get involved in a crime committed right in front of his home, and then loudly bemoans in the safety of his inaction the increased arsons in the neighborhood. Like Sharon, though, Bush has found personal benefit from the continued Middle East tragedy.
Bush is not capable of understanding that the proper response to continued suicide bombings and the continued murders of Palestinian and Israeli civilians is to push forward with peace, not to encourage more war.
The goal of the terrorists is to stop the peace process. And each time they carry out a suicide attack, or each time Sharon’s government attacks Palestinian civilians, the peace process is brought to a rumbling halt.
That is success for the extremists. That is exactly what the Arab fanatics and Sharon’s cabal of evil leaders seek. While the Arab fanatics believe that continued violence will put the nail not only in the coffin of the peace process, but also in resulting in the death of the only Palestinian leader who has ever tried to make peace with Israel, Arafat, Sharon’s fanatic cadre believes that the continued violence will eventually allow them to absorb and keep the lands they occupied by military force in 1967.
As for the rest of us, manipulated by the most unprofessional journalistic coverage of this tragic carnage and violence, the future will be even more bleak.
If Arafat is killed, the world may come to a grinding halt. Violence will increase, and extremists leaders will enhance their powers in the Middle East, curtailing oil production, plotting international terrorism against the West, and targeting Americans.
Sharon’s actions are leading the Middle East to a regional war, that only promises to suck in American interests and increasing the likelihood of a nuclear or other disaster of mass destruction levels.
Instead of cheering Sharon very time he lights a match with his provocation’s, President Bush should crawl out of his hole and be a leader. He should put his foot down fairly, and stop taking sides with Israel when the interests of the United States are so at stake.
The current Middle East crisis is the only time that an arsonist has been able to reap so much personal benefit from the destruction of so much that is important to the rest of the world.
(Ray Hanania is a Palestinian American writer based in Chicago and a regular contributor to MMN. His columns are archived on the web at www.hanania.com)