The recent cascade of voices are clamouring that the demise of Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, has driven Israel into an almost ‘catatonic state’, lacking the ability to proceed forward, as if its whole democracy rested squarely upon the shoulders of one man. Its democratic institutions being larger than the intermittent care takers who are elected to run them, Israel will most certainly survive this tragic period, because its institutions ‘are’ Israel. That fact alone is enough to dispel the simplistic comparisons between Sharon and the deceased leader of the Palestinians, who held all the keys and bank accounts to power for the entity he ran, the PA.
There is immense irony in the notion held by some, that peace, and the way to it, is lost with a solitary man with whom a portion of the world scorned as an antithesis to both moderate politics and statesmanship. All of these notions are inherently wrong.
First of all, the Israeli desire for peace with all of its neighbors is genuine, and not the sole property of just one man or one party, but is shared by the overwhelming majority of Israelis and their various political leaders. Israel’s democracy will continue to voice the will of its citizens, and implement the policies they support; Sharon’s political life exemplifies this truth.
The will of the people was never far from Ariel Sharon’s thinking, and being the pragmatic politician that he is, masterfully built the most diverse coalitions, one after the other. That was how disengagement from Gaza and portions of the West Bank was achieved. When he deemed that he could no longer to serve the will of the people from within his own party, he left it to form one that could. The legacy he leaves will carry on with or without him; Israel’s democracy expects and demands as much.
As for the malicious charges made against him during his term as Israel’s defence minister, they are as baseless as they are untrue. What is indisputable is that fact that it was Lebanese Christian Phalangists who perpetrated the atrocity in the refugee camps, not Israel, nor was Minister Sharon aware of it until after the hostilities had ended.
While Israel established the Kahane Commission to determine what had happened, amassing over 300 000 Israeli protesters in its streets, no Arab state has ever held a commission to determine who was responsible for the massacres in Damour where PLO operatives murdered 582 Lebanese Christians. Nor the countless other Arab on Arab atrocities perpetrated over the years in Lebanon and elsewhere, with the ‘mother of all massacres’ happening in the Syrian town of Hama, which ended up disappearing from the map along with 20 000 of its citizens.
The Arab street remains quiet, including the rest of the world. KGS