One Cheer for Sharon
August 17, 2005
Here’s one cheer for Ariel Sharon, and that’s a sentence I never thought I’d utter.
Sharon, who was complicit in the Sabra and Shatilla massacre in Israeli-occupied Lebanon that took the lives of between 700 and 3,500 Palestinians back in September 1982.
Sharon, who was the architect of the settlement policies in the first place.
Yes, this same Sharon has now done what colonial powers ultimately find themselves forced to do: He has pulled out of at least some of the Occupied Territories, alienating his rightwing base in the process.
And I know, I know, his decision to expel the settlers from the Gaza Strip has all sorts of ulterior motives.
Gaza was impossible for Israel to patrol, for one thing.
Even after pulling out, Israel still reserves the right to raid Gaza at will.
And Gaza isn’t nearly as important to Sharon and the settlers’ movement as the West Bank.
Finally, pulling out of Gaza, in Sharon’s mind anyway, may be designed to freeze the peace process in “formaldehyde,” as his former spokesperson let on a while back. (For an excellent rundown of the limitations of the Gaza pullout, check out a new posting on MADRE’s website.)
But Sharon’s motives, as Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery notes, are not the important thing today.
The important thing today is that Israel is finally giving up its claim to some of the Palestinians’ territory. Avnery calls that “a great event,” and “a miracle of rare device.”
“History shows that intentions are not necessarily important,” Avnery writes. “Those who set in motion historical processes do not control the results. What counts are the results, not the intentions.”
And while Sharon vows that this pullout will set no precedent for withdrawing settlers from the West Bank, the logic of doing so is as compelling there as it is in Gaza, and the momentum on the ground could result in a total pullout.
May that day come soon.
Palestinians have a right to a state of their own, so long deferred, and a right to the Occupied Territories, 38 years now under Israeli control.
And Israel cannot remain a colonial power and expect peace.
Only when it gives up its colonial territory will peace be possible.