There has been a disturbing trend among Israelis during the last 52 years. . .blame everyone else but ourselves. Ariel Sharon, a war criminal who was found responsible by Israel’s own Kahan commission of the Sabra/Shatila massacres in Lebanon, was elected democratically by the Israelis. For Palestinians, Sabra/Shatila will never be forgotten, nor will Sharon’s massacre in Qibya, Palestine.
Now that Sharon has been rewarded for pogroms, Israelis are blaming the Palestinians for his victory. Excuse me? Where is the responsibility of the Israeli voters? Are they not the ones who cast the votes?
Ariel Sharon’s past was well known to Israelis. Still, they elected him. Actually, Sharon is only the latest of many Israeli war criminals to be elected. Former Prime Minister Menachem Begin had masterminded the infamous massacre at Deir Yassin é the first of many massacres to result in the exodus of 750,000 Palestinians. Begin also masterminded the blowup of Jerusalem’s King David Hotel where dozens of Palestinians and British diplomats were killed.
There was Yitzhak Shamir, who assassinated the Swiss diplomat Count Bernadotte. There was Yizhak Rabin, who by his own admission, drove out 50,000 Palestinians from the city of Lydda, Palestine.
Ehud Barak’s hands were also dripping with blood, so it made little difference who won. After all, as a general, he made a living by killing Arabs. In the latest Intifada, he unleashed the world’s fourth most powerful army on children with stones. And under Barak, Israeli settlements continued to be built at a record pace; Palestinian homes demolished, Palestinian land confiscated, Palestinian laborers brutalized by bored Israeli border patrol, and Palestinians tortured despite a ban on torture by Israel’s own High Court. Military checkpoints remained between every Palestinian urban center and the freedom of travel was never been a norm.
While the Palestinian leadership effectively recognized Israel’s right to exist on nearly 80% of what was Palestine, the Israelis have never recognized the Palestinians’ right to self-determination — a right guaranteed to every human being under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [December 1948]. Yet, Palestinians have been expected to negotiate for this as if it were a reward.
After the Camp David Summit, Barak was credited as going further than any other Israeli leader in what he offered to the Palestinians. There was a time when Israeli prime ministers said Palestinians don’t exist. When the first prime minister acknowledged Palestinians’ existence, technically, they had gone further than any other Israeli leader. In addition, many could say that Menachem Begin went further than other Israeli leader in 1978 when he offered Palestinians autonomy on their own land. Each time an Israeli leader went “far” by their own standards, should Palestinians have accepted whatever subsequent offer was made to them, even if it wasn’t in their best interest?
In fact, the public doesn’t even know what Barak specifically offered. What we do know is that Barak has said no right of return for refugees, no return to 1967 borders, and no compromise on Jerusalem. All of these issues are governed by international law. What Palestinians have been asking for is what is due to them under the law and as a matter of justice. And what seems like justice for the Israelis has never been justice for the Palestinians. But Barak gave so many concessions!
And those “ungrateful” Palestinians who wanted to see international laws upheld are going to pay the price. In walks Sharon to “save the day.” Sharon’s hands dripping with blood, and his supporters have promised to “end” the Palestinian uprising against Israeli Occupation. God forbid that the Palestinians want to live in freedom.
The Israelis think that Sharon will immunize them from death. But it’s going to be worse. What the Israelis don’t realize is that there is no enemy more deadly than the one who has nothing to lose. And the Palestinians have nothing to lose. The unfortunate reality is that there will be much more bloodshed. Most of it will be Palestinian. But there will be a lot of Israeli blood, too. Such will be the result of Israel’s choice for prime minister.
In the meantime, the Israeli Foreign Ministry says that the “Arab World” will compare Sharon to Milosevic and poor Israel will be treated like Serbia. Their line of defense, already cited in Israeli newspapers: blame Palestinians, as well as promote a warmer image of Sharon. No doubt Hitler is looking up from hell and wondering where the Israeli Foreign Ministry was when he needed good PR people to whitewash his war crimes.
Sherri Muzher is a Freelance writer for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, and Former Executive Director of the Council for Palestinian Restitution and Repatriation.