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Ariel Sharon dies at 85
January 11, 2014 7:51 AM   Subscribe

Former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon died at a hospital near Tel Aviv last night, aged 85, after spending eight years in a coma. He was one of Israel's more popular leaders as a fierce defender of the Jewish nation, but was loathed by Palestinians and other regional powers who dubbed him the "the Butcher of Beirut". Israel is in mourning. Twitter is reacting. NPR reflects on his life as being one of a warrior's journey to peace.
posted by Mezentian (134 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by rosswald at 7:54 AM on January 11


It's no comment on his (or anyone else's) politics to say that I wouldn't wish eight years in a coma on anyone, and this seems more in the 'blessed release' column than 'such sorrowful news'.
posted by easily confused at 7:59 AM on January 11 [14 favorites]


The world reacts to Ariel Sharon's death. Wanted to find a link which was a little deeper than "Fuck yeah, he's dead, and there are parties"
from his former enemies, and there are many of those.

Also forgot to link this article from 2004 on Sharon's wars from the NYT.
posted by Mezentian at 8:00 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]


"...eight years in a coma". Thus Sharon died years ago.
posted by rmmcclay at 8:02 AM on January 11 [4 favorites]


., but for Sabra and Shatila.
posted by RakDaddy at 8:03 AM on January 11 [10 favorites]


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posted by learnsome at 8:07 AM on January 11


It was MeFi's Own Happy Dave who said, in the Thatcher thread something like "I won't celebrate anyone person's death, but I won't mourn this one", which seems (from a distance) to work for me in this case.
posted by Mezentian at 8:16 AM on January 11 [34 favorites]


He died at 77.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:24 AM on January 11


Perhaps there's not so much precedent because Israel is a younger nation (in its current manifestation), but I'm curious whether there's been a more-positive reassessment of Israeli Prime Ministers' legacies when they're gone. (Here in the U.S., with Reagan and Ford--and to a surprising extent, with Nixon--there was a sort of national* piety that developed around them after they died.) I read the Ha'aretz piece, for example, and noted it had the usual niceties but I have no idea what their editorial stance was w/r/t his policies when he was in office.

*but by no means universal
posted by psoas at 8:30 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


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posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:36 AM on January 11


Glenn Greenwald tweets:

"@ggreenwald: In the first raid Sharon led in 1953 in Qibya, his unit "demolished 45 houses & a school & killed 69 people", more than 1/2 women & children"

Someone else put it better than I could: one should always speak good of the dead. He's dead. Good.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 8:42 AM on January 11 [35 favorites]


Justice Minister Tzipi Livni grieved the loss of Sharon on Saturday, saying "he was a farmer, soldier and prime minister who became the father of a great nation, but most of all he was a man that I loved."
posted by escabeche at 8:44 AM on January 11


.

I'm hoping that this is the beginning of the hard-liner Likuds slowly losing power, but I know it isn't.
posted by Sphinx at 8:44 AM on January 11


To quote @lsarsour on Twitter:
I don't celebrate death of anyone. Sharon will meet his Creator and answer to massacres and destruction committed by him. He was a criminal.
posted by Bromius at 8:46 AM on January 11 [3 favorites]


No-one knows how many dots it would take to represent a moment's silence for each of those who died in Sabra and Shatila.
posted by howfar at 8:49 AM on January 11 [15 favorites]


It's hard not to wonder how Israel's history would have been different if Sharon hadn't been struck down. Would he have been able to maintain a national-unity government under Kadima dedicated to unilateral withdrawal from the territories? Would the Netanyahu-led Likud party have been reduced to a fringe group, instead of returning to predominance as it did?
posted by escabeche at 8:50 AM on January 11 [4 favorites]


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posted by radwolf76 at 9:13 AM on January 11


I often celebrate the deaths of others. The world is just a better place without certain people in it. Unfortunately many of these people outlive their ability to do harm and die well after they should. I get tired of the "Now he will be judged," talk. I want to see people held accountable in this life.

I also don't understand why one's breathing status imparts any special reverence. Either you are deserving of resect or you are not. Dying doesn't change this fact. Rewriting a biography once the subject is gone is a horrible practice.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:16 AM on January 11 [57 favorites]


Wow, my dad is visiting relatives in Israel just now. He's going to have some interesting stories when he comes back.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:31 AM on January 11


The Pan-Arabia Enquirer (Arab "Onion"): Ariel Sharon’s burial plot set to displace 15,000 Palestinians
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:33 AM on January 11 [38 favorites]


Human Rights Watch: Ariel Sharon’s Troubling Legacy
posted by homunculus at 9:39 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


What's the opposite of a dot? I'd like to post that.
posted by mondo dentro at 9:51 AM on January 11 [5 favorites]


cjorgensen THANK YOU for that. Favourited times a thousand.
posted by runincircles at 9:56 AM on January 11


This isn't like Falwell or Thatcher, I hate them because of their politics. Sharon was an actual murderer, who killed many innocent people. He deliberately massacred unarmed innocent humans. The world is a better place without him
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:58 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]


In other words, maybe thatchers destruction of unions in the uk was a good thing, I doubt it but I could be wrong. I don't doubt that mass murder of innocents is evil.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:00 AM on January 11


I found it sad that at the very end of his life he seemed to be taking a sharp turn towards peace, and suffered his final stroke before he had a chance to carry through. Could he have been remembered in as only-Nixon-could-go-to-China if he'd had just had a few more years?

In any case, an argument for doing the right thing today rather than tomorrow.
posted by crayz at 10:02 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


How Ariel Sharon Shaped Israel’s Destiny by Max Bluementhal:

In a bloody career that spanned decades, he destroyed entire cities and presided over the killing of countless civilians.

posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 10:34 AM on January 11 [3 favorites]


Waltz With Bashir is an animated "documentary" about the director's experiences as a soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces during the 1982 Lebanon War. The star/director suffers from amnesia around that time and conducts interviews with others who were there to piece back together his memories.

This is the "massacre at the Sabra & Shatilla camps" scene from the movie (English subtitles). Ron Ben-Yshai (Jacket & glasses), an Israeli journalist (and veteran himself) hears that the Israelis are providing a security cordon around the camps (and otherwise providing assistance) while their Christian Lebanese allies go on a revenge killing-spree against the Palestinians inside.

And RBS discusses the phone call he made to Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Minister of Defense, while the killings were in progress.

As we sow, so do we reap.

And Arial Sharon's name will forever be spoken alongside the words "Sabra & Shatilla", "Ethnic Cleansing", "Massacre", "War Crime".
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:36 AM on January 11 [7 favorites]


When I have no idea what to say about a death like this one, I generally fall back on John Donne's Meditation XVII

"all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another."
posted by poe at 10:39 AM on January 11 [9 favorites]


Human Rights Watch: Ariel Sharon’s Troubling Legacy.
No dot from me.
posted by adamvasco at 11:07 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


Arik Sharon: the Nathan Bedford Forrest of Israel.
posted by rdone at 11:09 AM on January 11 [4 favorites]


When people like Sharon die it makes me really hope that Andy Weir's short story The Egg isn't true in the end.
posted by Talez at 11:09 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


When people like Sharon die it makes me really hope that Andy Weir's short story The Egg isn't true in the end.

It makes me hope it is, because maybe eventually they'll stop.
posted by Myca at 11:19 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


There'll be no tears shed by me. History will remember him as a slaughterer of civilians rather than the great zionist leader of Israel. Which, in my view, is exactly how it should be.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 12:03 PM on January 11


Had he not fallen into a coma, we would be recalling his legacy as a fighter who, at the end of his life, found a tortuous path to peace. He was prepared to build on the Gaza disengagement by withdrawing from substantial portions of the West Bank as well. As it is, his final act as a leader was to return the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians over the shrill and violent protests of his own right flank. I was there. It was frightening to see Israeli soldiers dragging settlers from their homes, wondering all the while if there was going to be a mass refusal on the part of the IDF to implement the Prime Minister's lawful orders.

His actions as a leader were ugly. He was responsible for the deaths of innocents. The Palestinians he brutalized are right to hate him. And yet, even he saw that Israel's future depended on their land and sovereignty.

All you people getting your two minute hate on screaming about Sabra and Shatila might pause for a moment to think about the complexity of his legacy and the vicissitudes of history, which have given us a monster where we might have had--should have had--a statesman and reluctant peacemaker.

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posted by R. Schlock at 12:33 PM on January 11 [12 favorites]


All you people getting your two minute hate on screaming about Sabra and Shatila might pause for a moment to think about the complexity of his legacy and the vicissitudes of history, which have given us a monster where we might have had--should have had--a statesman and reluctant peacemaker.

If we're playing "what could have been," let's imagine a world where Sharon slipped into his coma 25 years earlier.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:56 PM on January 11 [19 favorites]


He was a truly horrible person. Anyone can try make removing the 10k settlers from Gaza (and their 50k army protectors) a move of peace, but it had much more to do with resources and national politics than anything else. And, even if it was a positive step it was a drop of water in a bucket of blood.
posted by cell divide at 1:22 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


There are deaths you mourn and deaths you don't. This would be in the don't category.
posted by tavella at 1:36 PM on January 11


Woulda shoulda coulda. A fitting epitaph.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:49 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


What's the opposite of a dot? I'd like to post that.


☆彡?



I know very little about Sharon and do not have an opinion about his death, but do think that the above may serve mondro dentro's needs.
posted by mr. digits at 2:13 PM on January 11


All you people getting your two minute hate on screaming about Sabra and Shatila might pause for a moment to think about the complexity of his legacy and the vicissitudes of history, which have given us a monster where we might have had--should have had--a statesman and reluctant peacemaker.

Too little, too late.

Monster it is.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 2:14 PM on January 11


All you people getting your two minute hate on screaming about Sabra and Shatila might pause for a moment to think about the complexity of his legacy and the vicissitudes of history, which have given us a monster

yes, it's all history's fault, isn't it? - the man had no agency himself to determine his actions - or inactions - and the only reason we think he was a monster was because mean old history ran out the clock on him before he could show us what a good person he really was

what bullshit

you get the time that you get and it's what you do in that time that counts

by the way - the day the sabra and shatila massacres occurred was the day i realized i could no longer defend israel's actions - that's a lot longer than two minutes
posted by pyramid termite at 2:14 PM on January 11 [20 favorites]


Pyramid termite said it better than me. He could have turned to the path of peace decades before he did and Israel and Palestine would likely be further along the path of peaceful cohabitation.
posted by arcticseal at 2:18 PM on January 11


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posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 2:23 PM on January 11


"All you people getting your two minute hate on screaming about Sabra and Shatila might pause for a moment to think about the complexity of his legacy and the vicissitudes of history, which have given us a monster where we might have had--should have had--a statesman and reluctant peacemaker."
Yeah, but you've got to face up to the history you have - not the history you wished you had.

Overwhelming number of applicants for Ariel Sharon funeral sign language translator.

posted by Pinback at 2:53 PM on January 11 [5 favorites]


Israel's State Archives release cabinet documents after thirty years, so their deliberations on the Sabra-Shatila massacre came out about a year and a half ago. This is probably the best article on them, written by the State Archivist himself:
Secrets From Israel’s Archives

For what it's worth, I think the Kahan Commission came to the correct verdict: Israel should have known what the Phalangist forces were capable of and should not have used them as proxies, especially after the assassination of President Bashir Gemayel, which had been blamed on the Palestinians. None the less, describing Ariel Sharon as the "Butcher of Beirut" is simply false propaganda, particularly when there are so many Lebanese candidates for the title, including the commander who instigated and directed the massacre.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:36 PM on January 11 [5 favorites]


What's the opposite of a dot? I'd like to post that.
posted by mondo dentro at 12:51 PM on January 11 [4 favorites +] [!]

A flat line...
posted by etaoin at 4:41 PM on January 11


two minute hate

Is there a word - maybe in German or something - that means "phrase which, when deployed in conversation, is a reliable indicator that the person using it has no serious argument, and may well not understand Orwell?"

Because I think that term would be useful.
posted by hap_hazard at 5:26 PM on January 11 [6 favorites]


THE GENERAL: An Israeli journalist’s six years of conversation with Ariel Sharon. - 2006, New Yorker
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:38 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


Because I think that term would be useful.

A highly structured outburst of anger against a cartoonish symbolic enemy that affects nothing and serves only to reinforce existing social institutions?

I understand Orwell quite well and believe I've used the phrase appropriately here.
posted by R. Schlock at 5:44 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


Those who believe the "late change of heart" / "reluctant peacemaker" story should read this interview (full version) with Dov Weisglass, a top aide of Sharon's at the time of the Gaza withdrawal.

"The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians."
posted by zeri at 5:46 PM on January 11 [5 favorites]


None the less, describing Ariel Sharon as the "Butcher of Beirut" is simply false propaganda, particularly when there are so many Lebanese candidates for the title, including the commander who instigated and directed the massacre.

Yes. The constant talk of Sharon of the Butcher of Beirut has always seemed to me like a weird attempt to ignore/absolve the actual Lebanese who actually murdered the refugees.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:03 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]


Oh sorry, I thought you were implying that Sharon was a former confidant of the powers that be who was being, in effect, accused of counter-revolutaionary behavior in order to distract mass attention from the present abuses of those powers. That would be appropriate if approbation was coming from, say, current Israeli hardliners.

Or that he was a possibly non-existent figure, of whom the masses knew precisely the (imaginary) details most calculated to inflame their passions, and - again- redirect their capacity for anger away from actually-exsting power.

I'm pretty sure neither of those interpretation of the usage apply to Sharon, which is why I was confused.

Carry on then!

Amusingly, Wikipedia cites Nixon, after Watergate, as an early subject of this delightful analogy. Which is a fine exemplar of the phrases' uselessness- because obviously there was nothing about Nixon's actual history to inspire oppobrium until the left-wing Washington Post exposed his crimes. Unless you were Cambodian or whatever...
posted by hap_hazard at 6:10 PM on January 11


Is there a word - maybe in German or something - that means "phrase which, when deployed in conversation, is a reliable indicator that the person using it has no serious argument, and may well not understand Orwell?"

I believe it's "Begriffderwennimgesprächeingesetztwirdisteinzuverlässigerindikatordassdiepersondieeshatkein ernsthaftesargumentundkannauchnichtOrwellzuverstehen."

At least, that's what Google Translate says.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:14 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


Comments here despising Sharon are a bit odd when they come from folks whose nation firebombed Dresden, napalmed Viet Nam, and currently use drones to kill randomly in nations world-wide. For a very balanced view , well written, and long studied of
Sharon, read THIS PIECE
posted by Postroad at 6:25 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


To me it just seems weird that every comment about Sharon being 'evil' seems to take it that his life existed in a vacuum, a singular existence without context. The wrongs he committed should of course be examined and discussed, but there seems to be an element that wishes only to evaluate his life and career outside of fight for recognition and existence that he was a part of.
posted by rosswald at 6:27 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


Comments here despising Sharon are a bit odd when they come from folks whose nation firebombed Dresden, napalmed Viet Nam, and currently use drones to kill randomly in nations world-wide.

I'm imagining that maybe there's a more nuanced way to consider people's individual comments than in a way that makes them hypocrites if they're citizens of a nation that did things over which they have or had no meaningful control and may very well disagree with.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:27 PM on January 11 [13 favorites]


a cartoonish symbolic enemy

No. An actual person who did actual things with actual consequences.

Comments here despising Sharon are a bit odd when they come from folks whose nation firebombed Dresden, napalmed Viet Nam, and currently use drones to kill randomly in nations world-wide.

When did Canada do any of those things?
posted by Sys Rq at 6:28 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


My grandfather helped carry a wounded Sharon off the battlefield of Latrun in the 1948 war. He was very left-wing in his politics, so I once asked him in jest if he wished he'd left him there. I'll never forget the look he gave me.

My dad's family was neighbors with the Sharons in the sixties, and my dad would babysit for them. The child, Gur, was killed in a gun accident in 1967. My dad thinks this was when Sharon lost it, but I don't think this jibes with the historical record.
posted by zeri at 6:32 PM on January 11 [10 favorites]


To me it just seems weird that every comment about Sharon being 'evil' seems to take it that his life existed in a vacuum, a singular existence without context.

As my (German) wife put it tonight, aptly, "A lot of angels died at Auschwitz."
posted by R. Schlock at 6:36 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


It was frightening to see Israeli soldiers dragging settlers from their homes...

I wonder why we were all treated to such "frightening" scenes; after all, the soldiers could have just packed up, returned to Israel, and let the settlers fend their for themselves.
posted by moorooka at 7:23 PM on January 11


describing Ariel Sharon as the "Butcher of Beirut" is simply false propaganda...
Yep - all he did was sic a dog on some trapped kids. Let's not go around acting like he was the dog!!
posted by moorooka at 7:28 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


I wonder why we were all treated to such "frightening" scenes; after all, the soldiers could have just packed up, returned to Israel, and let the settlers fend their for themselves.

You know that they would have been killed, right?
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:34 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


You know that they would have been killed, right?

And likely killed many of the attacking Palestinians in the process. Would that scenario have been less "frightening" to you?
posted by Behemoth at 7:38 PM on January 11


You know that they would have been killed, right?

And if that's what they were worried about, they could have followed the soldiers home, no kicking/screaming/dragging required.
posted by moorooka at 7:40 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


Auschwitz

I mean, fuck the Holocaust. By the time the 80's rolled around the UN partition plan had been rejected, Israel had been besieged by its neighbors in the 60's, and a surprise attack had been launched on the holiest of all Jewish holidays in the 70's - an attack that had come extremely close to the 'push them into the sea' goal of the Palestinians and the Arab states.

The Palestinians had done everything they could to demonstrate that they wished to live, and die, by the sword. It turned out Israel and Sharon were better at the former, putting the Palestinians in the later category.

Not that this absolves Israel or Sharon, but if peace had been made based on the lines before 67, or in the immediate aftermath of 67, we would be remembering Sharon as a car salesman or chickpea farmer instead of as a military commander.
posted by rosswald at 7:55 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


Too bad he was never tried for his crimes. Good riddance.
posted by spitbull at 8:12 PM on January 11


The Palestinians had done everything they could to demonstrate that they wished to live, and die, by the sword. in Palestine.

If you put your cat out for the night, you can hardly be surprised to hear it meowing at the door in the morning.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:28 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


[I know this is an I/P thread by proxy but maybe focus more on Sharon than pre-Sharon I/P history?]
posted by mathowie at 8:57 PM on January 11


Well that doesn't really work either since there really isn't any pre-Sharon I/P history.

His military career began as a teenager in the Haganah, a Zionist militia that was operating in Palestine (including the part of Palestine allotted by the UN to the Arab side of the partition and to the Jerusalem international zone) prior to the establishment of the State of Israel.

That is to say, there is a pre-I/P Sharon history, but not a pre-Sharon I/P history.
posted by moorooka at 9:52 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


Not that this absolves Israel or Sharon, but if peace had been made based on the lines before 67, or in the immediate aftermath of 67, we would be remembering Sharon as a car salesman or chickpea farmer instead of as a military commander.

Or as one of the Zionist terrorists that Israel's defenders like to pretend never existed.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:59 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


I mean, if there's one place where it should be appropriate to talk about the whole sordid mess of I/P history, why not the obit thread for a guy that was part of the action from the very beginning, and pretty much every dreadful episode thereafter?
posted by moorooka at 10:02 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


The Palestinians had done everything they could to demonstrate that they wished to live, and die, by the sword.

your inaccurate view of history aside, your argument doesn't apply to most palestinians as they hadn't been born then.
posted by cupcake1337 at 10:04 PM on January 11


- (.)
posted by umberto at 10:08 PM on January 11


J Street's J obituary:
As Prime Minister, Sharon, like many of his predecessors, realized that Israel’s survival as a democratic, Jewish homeland depends on a two-state resolution of its conflict with the Palestinians. This understanding led him to to break with the Likud Party and to implement Israel's unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. When he was cut down by a massive stroke in January 2006, Sharon was planning a similar withdrawal from the West Bank.

One lesson from the Gaza withdrawal is that Israel's conflict with the Palestinians can only really be solved by the sides negotiating a peace agreement that ends the Israeli occupation, establishes a Palestinian state and settles all outstanding issues and claims. Still, Sharon deserves credit for the intellectual journey he took during his life and for having the courage to lead. His incapacitation, when at the height of his powers, leaves the challenge of making peace to be fulfilled by his successors, notably Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
posted by R. Schlock at 10:23 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


When he was cut down by a massive stroke in January 2006, Sharon was planning a similar withdrawal from the West Bank.

Just like JFK was planning a withdrawal from Vietnam?
posted by JackFlash at 10:43 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


There's a widely-syndicated Israeli editorial cartoon called Dry Bones. I searched its archive for mentions of Sharon, and came across this very prescient cartoon: The Egyptian. It was a joke at the time, but not any more: Gaza was in fact taken over by a militant Islamic group - Hamas - in 2006, and the consequent smuggling trade in and out of Gaza has destablised the Sinai peninsula. In fact, I believe that a Bedouin threat to attack the Suez canal may have hastened Mubarak's exit; at the very least it was a test of his power and authority, which he failed.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:15 PM on January 11


all he did was sic a dog on some trapped kids.

Lebanese people are not dogs, man.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:47 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


The Phalangists were more than just 'Lebanese people', man
posted by moorooka at 12:03 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]


Dry Bones is vile shit that routinely dehumanizes Palestinians and acts like the imprisonment of Johnathan Pollard is some kind of high crime. Kirschen has been drawing like a six year old for decades now and combines inanity, racism, and artistic incompetence into a delightful package of garbage.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:30 AM on January 12 [4 favorites]


The wrongs he committed should of course be examined and discussed, but there seems to be an element that wishes only to evaluate his life and career outside of fight for recognition and existence that he was a part of.

But we can say this for all those who commit or sanction atrocities for a cause. Will you be here to make this point in the Nasrallah obit thread?
posted by howfar at 1:05 AM on January 12


It is a valid point howfar, but Nasrallah seems like and odd choice since his life has gone in almost the opposite direction. You can argue he was 'defending-the-homeland' at one point, but between Rafic Hariri and Syria/Assad I am not sure what he's 'defending' these days.
posted by rosswald at 3:37 AM on January 12


Here's a blast from the past: Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a web page from 2005 explaining the disengagement from Gaza and how they hope it will bring peace. It's a very nice page, very optimistic, very clear and well worth reading. It even has a quote from the late Ariel Sharon:
“Together we can build a dam against the radical forces of yesterday, which threaten to carry us all into a whirlpool of blood and hatred. Together, we can promote relations between us and ignite a first ray of hope for all the people of the Middle East. Together, we can ensure our peoples lives of freedom and stability, prosperity and peace.”
So here you go: Israel's Disengagement Plan: Renewing the Peace Process
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:03 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]


Here's a blast from the past...

Yeah... I've got a nice bridge for sale, too.
posted by Mister Bijou at 4:12 AM on January 12


Can you articulate your thoughts at all? I mean, there's the website, it describes the process they've gone through, the meetings with foreign leaders, cabinet meetings, budgets for relocating people, maps, a timetable, you name it. As we know, the Disengagement was a massive failure, but the website was created before all that. So I perceive that you're expressing doubt, but .... doubt that the website exists? That Israel pulled out of Gaza? That the map represents Israel and Gaza and not, say, Rivendell? Your comment doesn't actually convey any meaning except, perhaps, dull resentment at being confronted with something that challenges your worldview.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:22 AM on January 12


[Reminder: tough thread, so let's keep comments on the topic and off personal challenges or insults. Go ahead and talk about Sharon and his legacy good or bad, but rein in comments directed toward other members.]
posted by taz at 4:29 AM on January 12


Ever since the 1967 Six Day War brought Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and the Gaza Strip under Israel’s administration, their status has been in contention. Israel was forced to wage that war in self-defense, and the disputed territories were held not as the object of conquest, but to be part of eventual negotiations for lasting peace.

"In contention". That's one way to put it.

Gaza withdrawal was cover for massive, illegal West Bank expansion. "Renewing the Peace Process" my ass.
posted by moorooka at 5:23 AM on January 12 [6 favorites]


All the talk about Sabra and Shantila as Sharon's greatest crime whitewashes his evil, yes, he bore responsbility for that massacre, but was not the most responsible person for it.

Sharon's greatest crime was the Qibya massacre.

From wikipedia:

The Qibya massacre, also known as the Qibya incident, occurred in October 1953 when Israeli troops under Ariel Sharon attacked the village of Qibya in the West Bank. Sixty-nine Palestinian Arabs,[1] two-thirds of them women and children,[2] were killed. Forty-five houses, a school, and a mosque were destroyed.[3] The attack followed cross-border raids from the Jordanian occupied West Bank in which Israeli civilians were killed.[1]

Ariel Sharon, who led the attack, later wrote in his diary that he had received orders to inflict heavy damage on the Arab Legion forces in Qibya: 'The orders were utterly clear: Qibya was to be an example for everyone'. Original documents of the time showed that Sharon personally ordered his troops to achieve "maximal killing and damage to property", and post-operational reports speak of breaking into houses and clearing them with grenades and shooting."
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:43 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]


Qibya Massacre
posted by rosswald at 10:50 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]


Moorooka wrote: Gaza withdrawal was cover for massive, illegal West Bank expansion.

Can you say anything nice about it at all? I mean, nine thousand people uprooted, businesses destroyed, cemeteries relocated; something done at immense political cost to Sharon and his supporters within Likud: it literally tore that party apart and he nearly lost office as a result. And the Palestinians had a state in all but name for the first time in history; doesn't that count for anything?

And your assertion isn't even true: several West Bank settlements were demolished at the same time, and more demolitions were planned. Israel pulled out of a big chunk of Samaria, devolved power to the Palestinian Authority in much of the rest, and was negotiating about further withdrawals in Samaria and Judea. So not only was there no expansion, but it was actually part of a planned contraction.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:11 PM on January 12


When you gonna get to me
Get to me
It's just a matter of time Sharon, A!
Is it just destiny, destiny
Or is it just a game in my mind Sharon, A!
posted by Renoroc at 7:20 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


Maybe the 8 year coma was an appropriate karmic balance for what he did when he still had control of his volitions. There are stories from people who recovered from comas wherein they dreamed.
posted by porpoise at 8:01 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


[As we've said, this needs to not become a general debate about Israeli politics. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 8:42 PM on January 12


But this is not a "general" debate on Israeli politics, this is a debate on the specifics of Arial Sharon's policies in relation to the occupied territories.

This article discusses the specific point we're debating.
"Sharon finally accepted that the Palestinians could not be made to disappear. He wanted a Greater Israel but understood that he could not expel the Palestinians to achieve it."

He also understood, adds Klein, that Israel could not afford to maintain, long term, a direct reoccupation of the West Bank - either in terms of the financial cost or the expected price in soldiers' lives.

Instead, Sharon devised what Warschawski calls the "Swiss cheese model". "He treated the region like a big block of Swiss cheese, with Israel as the cheese and the Palestinians as the holes. Any bits he did not care about could belong to the Palestinians. It was about creating cantons, and the largest was Gaza."
These policies are probably Sharon's defining legacy, and a thread about the man should have room to discuss them.
posted by moorooka at 8:59 PM on January 12 [2 favorites]


Moorooka wrote: How many settlers were in the West Bank in 2005? And how many are there now?

Google is your friend, you know.1 According to this site it was 258,988 in 2005 and 328,423 in 2011, representing an annual population growth of around 4%.

I was actually taking exception to your assertion that the Disengagement was a "cover for massive, illegal West Bank expansion." I don't believe that such an expansion could have been covered up, nor that Sharon would have felt the need to do so. In any event, the data shows that there simply wasn't a significant jump in population. In fact, the number of settlements and the extent of Israeli control over Palestinian areas actually went down - i.e., there was no expansion of Israeli influence in the West Bank.

1 Or your stalker, depending on how you think about it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:34 PM on January 12


representing an annual population growth of around 4%.

For context, Israel as a whole over the same period had a growth rate of 1.4% so West Bank occupation is growing almost three times as fast.
posted by JackFlash at 10:26 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


And the settler population exceeded 350,000 in 2012.

So since "disengagement" (which involved 8000 settlers leaving Gaza), the settler population in the West Bank has increased by 100,000.

I'd call a 40% increase in settler population "significant" and an "expansion of Israeli influence in the West Bank". And when every one knows that the settlement program is flagrantly illegal and the main obstacle to lasting peace, it seems extremely disingenuous to argue otherwise that it Just Doesn't Matter, which seems to be your position.

Beyond the settler numbers themselves (which for some reason you think is a completely irrelevant metric), and beyond the building of the massive "separation barrier" gobbling up 10% of the land, we have the fact that 60% of the West Bank - and especially its agricultural and water resources - remain part of "Area C", under the complete control of the Israeli military, with no freedom of movement for Palestinians allowed, and seemingly zero prospect of a return to Palestinian control now or ever. Parts of Area C were being handed back to the Palestinians before Sharon came to power and took it all back during Operation Defensive Shield; his vision was that Israel would never make a mistake like that again. The Palestinians could keep control of several disconnected pockets - the bits with too many Arabs, especially the densely populated Gaza. Israel would control the rest; the parts they want.

So this is what I meant - the Gaza withdrawal was cover for the expansion of settler activity and the consolidation of military control over the West Bank. And I didn't mean to imply "cover" as in "cover up"; they were and remain quite open about it. I mean "cover" as in "political cover", the way that you're using it now: "we withdrew from this bit - aren't we great peace-lovers? what more do you want?"

The separation of Gaza from the rest of Palestine and the fragmentation of the nationalist movement was an added bonus. The whole thing has been hugely effective - the two-state solution is dead as a door nail now - nobody even pretends that Israel will ever go back to the internationally-recognized (67) borders anymore. Whatever else you say about Sharon, he knew what he was doing.
posted by moorooka at 10:27 PM on January 12 [4 favorites]


JackFlash wrote: For context, Israel as a whole over the same period had a growth rate of 1.4% so West Bank occupation is growing almost three times as fast.

The correct rate is a bit over 1.9%; is it possible you did a simple division rather than calculate the compounding rate? Anyway, the relevant population isn't "Israel as a whole" but "similar populations". People tend to move to new homes when they have kids; the birthrate in the West Bank is much higher than elsewhere. For instance, in 2012 there were about 11,100 births in Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria; about 4,300 internal migrants; and about 900 immigrants.

But you know, I don't have a problem with Jews living in the West Bank, no matter who's governing it. I wish Jews could live in Gaza, and Jordan, and Egypt, and Syria, too.

Moorooka wrote: The whole thing has been hugely effective - the two-state solution is dead as a door nail now [...]

There are two states. Or three, or four, depending on how you count them. This is part of the problem. Gaza is ruled by Hamas, who don't want to talk, and the Palestinian Authority is ruled by ... well, its head is Mahmoud Abbas, who doesn't have the power to do anything but talk. Last Thursday was the fifth anniversary of the expiry of his term as President of the State of Palestine. I don't think there have even been municipal elections since that time, there or in Gaza.

I'm pretty sure that Ariel Sharon didn't intend to have Gaza turn out the way it has; I presume he expected that the Disengagement would force the Palestinians to sort out their leadership issues, just as the various Jewish groups did at the end of the British Mandate. It's very sad that they haven't.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:51 PM on January 12


[Comment deleted. Moorooka, you apparently want to have a one-on-one personal conversation with Joe in Australia about general I/P issues. Please arrange that via email.]
posted by taz at 12:31 AM on January 13


I'm pretty sure that Ariel Sharon didn't intend to have Gaza turn out the way it has; I presume he expected that the Disengagement would force the Palestinians to sort out their leadership issues, just as the various Jewish groups did at the end of the British Mandate.

Or as the Palestinians did when Arafat was in power?
posted by moorooka at 1:35 AM on January 13


(Before Sharon had him barracaded in his compound, that is)
posted by moorooka at 1:39 AM on January 13


It's interesting - I was occupied this weekend, but did recall seeing some mournful articles about Sharon in the local (NYC) papers. My husband pointed out that outside of NYC, Sharon was not thought of so positively - I was surprised and kind of doubtful. Coming in on this thread makes me realize I was probably right to be surprised, but maybe shouldn't be as doubtful.

When I think of Sharon, I think of, oddly, another general with an S name - Tecumseh Sherman. He, too, did terrible things in the name of war, but did so because he hated war and longed for peace - and wanted the war to be over as quickly as possible so that the peace would come. It doesn't make it right by any means, but it does make it understandable, at least. And like Sherman, Sharon was a brilliant military commander (particularly known for the Battle of Abu-Ageila). I know I've heard him referenced by commanders.

When it comes to Israeli politicians and generals, I don't think they can be evaluated without remembering the trauma they collectively bear from the Holocaust. It's important to make sure stuff isn't repeated, but it's hard to blame someone who's watched everyone die.
posted by corb at 7:47 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]


Sharon did not witness the Holocaust and was not a victim of the Holocaust, he was in Palestine the entire time.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:11 AM on January 13


Sorry, when I say "witness the Holocaust", particularly for Israelis, I mean more "witness the impact."
posted by corb at 8:13 AM on January 13


The worst thing that you can say about Sharon is that they have noted war criminal Tony Blair delivering his eulogy.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:20 AM on January 13


Shir Hever (of the Alternative Information Center) on The Real News Network:

-Pt 1: Sharon's Legacy Includes Massacres of Palestinians and Lebanese.
"Critics say he was the key architect of the Israeli Apartheid state".

"He was also one of Israels most corrupt politicians involved in several scandals regarding bribery, money laundering, and so on. And just as the allegations against him were about to go public, he had a stroke.""
-Pt 2: Sharon Symbolized the Darkest Aspects of Israeli Society and Zionism
"He is the second worst war criminal in Israel's history, after Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minister, who orchestrated the Nakba, the deportation of most of the population of Palestine."

"I mourn the fact that he died because there was a great hope among leftists that Sharon would be tried for war crimes. Being the second most deadly war criminal in Israel's history he would be a prime candidate to stand in front of the International Court in the Hague to answer for the crimes he committed."

"[The Kadima Party Sharon founded] is not a party about promoting the Peace Process or recognizing the rights of Palestinians. It was a party about being more pragmatic and practical in making the Occupation more sustainable. But because he positioned it (within Israel's very strange political system) to the left of the Likud party, it made it seem as if it's a centrist party... this is in spite of the fact that we have so much proof that everything [Kadima] has done has been to sabotage the Peace Process, to continue to expand the Occupation, to build additional colonies."

"He withdrew 8,000 colonists from the Gaza Strip, but pushed 20,000 colonists into the West Bank. So he increased the number by 12,000, and that's just something the media didn't bother covering."

posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:30 AM on January 13 [3 favorites]


>Apartheid and ethnic cleansing

AFAIK there was no-one advocating for a unity/rainbow/whatever state at the time so this seems pretty disingenuous. The Peel Commission and even the UN Partition Plan itself recommended two different states for two different populations (how evil). Then war.
posted by rosswald at 12:22 PM on January 13


AFAIK there was no-one advocating for a unity/rainbow/whatever state at the time so this seems pretty disingenuous.

Well, most of the war crimes and apartheid have happened well past 1948. And the apartheid bit is still roaring along with no end in sight. Sharon going to the Temple Mount and provoking the Second Intifada was 2000.

Implicit in the original questions: for how long does one get a pass.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:49 PM on January 13


There is no 'pass.'
posted by rosswald at 2:08 PM on January 13


[Just a reminder, it's an obit thread not a "Please grind every axe you have about Israel/Palestine" thread. Please make sure you are joining the conversation already in progress and are not making the conversation worse with your contributions.]
posted by jessamyn at 3:15 PM on January 13


This is by far the best obituary on Sharon I've read, despite the fact it was actually published eight years ago:
The General
An Israeli journalist’s six years of conversation with Ariel Sharon.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:39 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]


Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey wrote: "Critics say he was the key architect of the Israeli Apartheid state".

The term "Israeli Apartheid" is a shameful misappropriation of an historical tragedy for rhetorical purposes. Not only is it inaccurate when applied to Israel, but it is promoted by the very people most opposed to multi-ethnic and multi-religious democracies in the Middle East.

Sharon going to the Temple Mount and provoking the Second Intifada was 2000.

I don't believe that his visit could or should have done so. The Temple Mount is a large public area and it is regularly visited by tourists. A Jew visiting a sacred site (the Temple Mount is sacred to Jews, as well as to Moslems) is no more an excuse for violence than, e.g., a South African Black using the wrong beach - to use the analogy of Apartheid. In any case, the violence started before his visit and had been planned long before.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:24 PM on January 13


The term "Israeli Apartheid" is a shameful misappropriation of an historical tragedy for rhetorical purposes. Not only is it inaccurate when applied to Israel, but it is promoted by the very people most opposed to multi-ethnic and multi-religious democracies in the Middle East.

Wave that well-worn Hasbara flag all you want, doesn't change the reality its ragged colors work tirelessly to hide.

By way of refutation, I offer you Nelson Mandela's letter to Thomas Friedman re: Israel & Palestine:
As to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, there is an additional factor. The so-called “Palestinian autonomous areas” are Bantustans. These are restricted entities within the power structure of the Israeli Apartheid system...

Apartheid is a crime against humanity. Israel has deprived millions of Palestinians of their liberty and property. It has perpetuated a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality. It has systematically incarcerated and tortured thousands of Palestinians, contrary to the rules of international law. It has, in particular, waged a war against a civilian population, in particular children.

The responses made by South Africa to human rights abuses emanating from the removal policies and Apartheid policies respectively, shed light on what Israeli society must necessarily go through before one can speak of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and an end to its Apartheid policies.

Thomas, I’m not abandoning Mideast diplomacy. But I’m not going to indulge you the way your supporters do. If you want peace and democracy, I will support you. If you want formal Apartheid, we will not support you. If you want to support racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing, we will oppose you.

When you figure out what you’re about, give me a call.
Shameful misapplication of a historical tragedy?

No sir, I hurl the accusation back at your feet and accuse you of the shameful and deliberate refusal use the word for political & propaganda purposes.

Because everybody remembers what happened when the world popular opinion turned it's back on South Africa and the nation was all but expelled them from World civil society. People know that the day the Apartheid label sticks to Israel in the American taxpayer's mind is game over for the Occupation.

Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, and black South Africans who were alive during the late 20th Century and who have traveled to Palestine all use the same word for what they saw there (and what still goes on).

And that word is APARTHEID, a world with social, political, and economic consequences for the nations who are labeled with it.

And Sharon was its primary architect in Israel. This is his legacy. Along with the massacres of civilians and ethnic cleansing (both of which Mandela also references in the letter).

A Jew visiting a sacred site (the Temple Mount is sacred to Jews, as well as to Moslems) is no more an excuse for violence than, e.g., a South African Black using the wrong beach - to use the analogy of Apartheid.

Again, the Hasbara propagandist's technique is to leave out crucial data. Like the 100s strong security force he took with him, or his uttering the phrase that was made famous when it went out over Israeli military radios in 1967 when the Israelis overran Jerusalem: "The Temple Mount is in our hands". That was a deliberate act of provocation.

So don't try to sell us on the "Just a Jew visiting a holy site" line. THAT'S a shameful and willfully skewed angle to take.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 6:17 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]


[Take this to MeMail guys, starting now.]
posted by jessamyn at 6:23 PM on January 13


That letter was actually written by Arjan El Fassed, imagining what Nelson Mandela might have written to Thomas Friedman, if he had written a letter. Which he didn't. You can see the original here.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:30 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]


the Hasbara propagandist's technique

Lame
posted by rosswald at 6:45 PM on January 13


There's a whole wiki page on the apartheid analogy and it's pretty thorough.
posted by moorooka at 2:03 AM on January 14


Desmond Tutu on the subject.
posted by moorooka at 2:04 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


Quartz: Ariel Sharon kicked my cousins out of Gaza. Here’s what they wanted to say to him before he died
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:49 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]


Yes, and as the wiki notes, "The majority [of journalists and academic commentors] are incensed by the very analogy and deplore what they deem its propagandistic goals."

Sharon was a flawed leader (I do not and cannot condone Sabra and Shatila, though acting as if the militants who actually perpetrated the massacre were "dogs" or otherwise not responsible for their actions is insulting if not outright racist) - but a brave one. Pulling all Jewish settlements out of Gaza was unpopular at the time, and was fought both legally and violently by many Israeli citizens. And yet Sharon believed it was the right thing to do, and he prevailed.

If the disengagement had succeeded, Sharon would be lauded on all sides as a hero, for setting up such a pure demonstration of what Palestinian self-determination could achieve. Calling it a cynical excuse for a West Bank land-grab only works if you go in assuming that the Palestinians will always act as they have acted in Gaza since diesngagement began - Israel has a proven track record of giving away land for peace, and every iteration of the Road Map involves land swaps to make up for settlements that Israel might want to keep.

No wonder some people are rushing to vilify Sharon and negate his legacy. Looking at what he achieved straight on, at face value, says far more about the Palestinian agenda and leadership when they are left in charge than it does about what he personally did to further or set back the peace process. Gaza speaks for itself.

I stayed out of this thread because he wasn't a hero of mine and things here got so ugly so fast. But saying things louder or more often or more insultingly does not make them more true. There are two sides to the I/P conflict, and neither is a model of virtue. Sharon stated he believed in a 2-state solution. And he did what he thought would help bring it closer, to his own political disadvantage.

.
posted by Mchelly at 9:05 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]


No, the wiki does not say

"The majority [of journalists and academic commentors] are incensed by the very analogy and deplore what they deem its propagandistic goals."

It says that Heribert Adam of Simon Fraser University and Kogila Moodley of the University of British Columbia said that, in one 2005 book. This is one of a very wide range of sources commenting on the analogy cited in the wiki, including United Nations officials and former President Jimmy Carter. It's a good wiki page; read the whole thing. It's even got a section on "disengagement".

Frankly it is easier to be simply "incensed" and cry "propaganda" than to explain why the analogy isn't at least somewhat apt, given the existing situation of
"a system of control" in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, including Jewish-only settlements, the ID system, separate roads for Israeli and Palestinian citizens, military checkpoints, discriminatory marriage law, the West Bank barrier, use of Palestinians as cheap labour, Palestinian West Bank enclaves, inequities in infrastructure, legal rights, and access to land and resources between Palestinians and Israeli residents in the Israeli-occupied territories .
posted by moorooka at 11:10 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


(I do not and cannot condone Sabra and Shatila, though acting as if the militants who actually perpetrated the massacre were "dogs" or otherwise not responsible for their actions is insulting if not outright racist)

That wasn't to imply that the militia weren't responsible for their actions, just that their actions were totally predictable - and predicted - when Sharon let them into the camps.
posted by moorooka at 11:46 AM on January 14


In a heartfelt address, Biden talked about a decades-long friendship with Sharon, saying the death felt "like a death in the family."

I googled for Sabra Shatila memorial and there is a picture on wikipedia of a monument in Sabra. It looks like the footprint is about the size of one typical American graveyard plot and it appears about 18-24" tall. Do they put statues in public squares of their national heroes in the state of Israel?
posted by bukvich at 12:22 PM on January 14


No; and Sharon's hardly a hero. The Left hate him because, Sharon; the right hate him for the Disengagement. Everybody else just doesn't think he was much good as PM. He was controversial mostly because people disagree about why they should dislike him.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:36 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


Gripping read:

Left for dead in 1948: The battle that shaped Arik Sharon
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:51 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


What's really interesting about that story is that Latrun, where the battle took place, was on the Arab side of the UN partition, but that the Haganah were operating there before Israeli independence was declared.

Which kind of exposes the myths that it was just the Arabs who refused to accept the partition plan and who were the aggressors in 48, and that the Israelis were happy with the partition until their side was invaded by the Arabs after independence.
posted by moorooka at 12:58 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


The article actually says: The formative moment of Ariel Sharon’s life came in May 1948; not with the Declaration of Independence [...] but with the battle for Latrun, 11 days later, in which he was left for dead.

So no, the Haganah weren't operating there before Israel's Declaration of Independence (at least as far as I know). But this is actually irrelevant because, as the very next sentence says, the Arabs had been at war with the Jews for six months. The Partition Plan was effectively a dead letter, because it was instantly rejected by the Arab League. Jews and Arabs were fighting each other all over the place, with lines that only roughly corresponded to the Partition Plan.

In this case, the Jews were fighting to relieve the Arab siege of Jerusalem. They won the battle but lost the war, so to speak, because Jordan conquered Jerusalem and occupied it for the next nineteen years, killing or expelling all its Jewish inhabitants; flattening the Jewish Quarter; blowing up the synagogues. You seem exercised about Apartheid; consider the fact that no Jews were suffered to live under Jordanian rule and that not even Jewish buildings were allowed to remain. And it's pretty well that way today: Every Jewish community under Arab rule has been destroyed. I think the largest one left is in Tunisia, with perhaps fifteen hundred Jews remaining. Israel is a refuge. It's the last remaining place in the Middle East where they can live. I'd like Israel to be better than it is, but given the circumstances it's remarkable how tolerant and open it is to all religions and ethnicities.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:41 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


Another good obituary:
Ariel Sharon: His Eye Was Not Dim
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:03 AM on January 15


Jews and Arabs were fighting each other all over the place, with lines that only roughly corresponded to the Partition Plan.

That's the point I wanted to make. The conventional story as put forward by e.g. rosswald on this thread - and virtually every time some modern-day Israeli crime needs to be excused - is that the UN set Israel up and then it was immediately invaded by Arabs, hence everything after that is the Arabs' fault. In fact the war between Jews and Arabs was a cause, not a consequence of that invasion, and it is by no means fair to place all the blame on the Arabs for what happened.

The Arabs certainly did reject partition - understandably the Arabs would reject the creation of a specifically non-Arab state in a part of Palestine where hundreds of thousands of Arabs had lived for generations, many of which were already being expelled by the time independence was declared - but there was also rejection of the partition on the Zionist side as well, and a lengthy campaign of Zionist terrorism (e.g. Irgun, the Stern Gang) preceding independence, on both sides of the partition line, most famously the massacre at Deir Yassin.

Which is not to place the blame for everything on the Zionist side, but just to say that the blame for everything shouldn't always be placed singularly on the Arab side! Which it usually is, and then used as justification for every miserable thing that's been done to the Palestinians from 1947 to the present day, as well as their hopeless future as second-class citizens under permanent military occupation and colonial apartheid in their own country.

Yes the Jews have suffered horribly throughout history but I don't think that the Palestinians of today deserve to be collectively punished like the objects of some sort of abstract revenge. As though their West Bank lands should be taken and handed over to some punk settlers flying in from Russia or wherever, as "compensation" for things that might have happened in other parts of the Arab world in the past. If Israel wants to be considered a civilized liberal democracy then it should be held to the same standards as other such countries, not to the standards of 20th century Arab dictatorships.

I'd like Israel to be better than it is, but given the circumstances it's remarkable how tolerant and open it is to all religions and ethnicities.

This is about what's going on in the occupied Palestinian territories, not what's going on inside [the internationally recognized borders of] Israel.
posted by moorooka at 3:53 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]


The conventional story as put forward by e.g. rosswald [...] everything [...] is the Arabs' fault

That is not what I said and not what I am saying. I was trying to counter all of the 'good riddance' style comments to say that Ariel Sharon's life was lived out in a contested geographical region punctuated by many a war.

but there was also rejection of the partition on the Zionist side as well, and a lengthy campaign of Zionist terrorism (e.g. Irgun, the Stern Gang) preceding independence, on both sides of the partition line, most famously the massacre at Deir Yassin.

1947–48 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine

This is about what's going on in the occupied Palestinian territories

Well, ostensibly, this is actually about Ariel Sharon. TBH you and I (I think) probably agree more than a multi-commenter-internet-thread will allow - certainly the Palestinians should be able to live in peace and dignity. Where we may disagree is that I think the 'apartheid' and 'ethnic cleansing' comparisons are mere propaganda which intends to do exactly what you say you don't want - blame one side while absolving the other.
posted by rosswald at 8:46 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]


Ariel Sharon: Debunking the Media Myths
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:37 PM on January 16


Al Jazeera: The architecture of Ariel Sharon - "Sharon leaves behind a legacy of construction and destruction that has shaped today's Israel and Palestine."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:08 PM on January 21


Department of Faint Praise:
Saudi columnist says number of Ariel Sharon's "victims" tiny compared with victims of Arab rulers and terrorists
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:03 PM on January 25


NYRB: In the Shadow of Sharon, by Avishai Margalit
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:22 AM on January 31


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