Sunday, January 12, 2014

How Ariel Sharon Shaped Israel’s Destiny

From The Nation:

Against fierce Palestinian resistance, one of the Middle East’s most vital and cosmopolitan cities was laid to ruin. Sharon’s forces flattened West Beirut with indiscriminate shelling, leaving streets strewn with unburied corpses. With each passing day, disease and famine spread at epidemic levels. In August, the day after the Israeli cabinet accepted US special envoy Philip Habib’s proposal for the evacuation of the PLO, Sharon’s forces bombarded Beirut for seven hours straight, leaving 300 dead, most of them civilians. The Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling wrote that the raid “resembled the attack on Dresden by the Allies toward the end of World War II.” Sharon even requested an additional paratrooper brigade to obliterate the PLO forces besieged in the city, earning a rare rebuke from Begin, who worried that his defense minister would completely destroy Habib’s efforts to resolve the crisis.

PLO forces withdrew from Lebanon, according to Habib’s guidelines, but the worst was yet to come. Sharon had stymied a proposal for the introduction of multinational peacekeepers capable of preventing reprisals against the defenseless Palestinian refugees who had been left behind. Thus the stage was set for the most heinous massacre of the war. Following the assassination of Bashir Gemayel, the Christian warlord who was supposed to serve as Sharon’s handpicked puppet president, Israeli forces helped usher Christian Phalangist militias into the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Shatila, then surrounded by the Israeli military, providing them with intelligence and operational support. Sharon and many of his officers were well aware of the Phalangists’ intention to murder as many women and children as they could. After days of slaughter, as many as 2,000 civilians were dead, with countless others raped and brutalized.

More here.

Whatever your opinions about Israel's decades long and continuing occupation of the Palestinian territories, it cannot be denied that Ariel Sharon was a monster.  He was a butcher as a military commander, just as he was a butcher while in government.  He committed crimes against humanity on more than one occasion.  He turned Palestinian lands into hopeless and desperate ghettos.  He carefully and knowingly instigated at least one intifada, which he then used as an excuse to kill again.  He probably did more than any other Israeli to push his nation, and ours, too, to some extent, toward its current inflexible and extremist attitude toward the Palestinians.  His legacy of hate and violence will no doubt continue for decades to come.

I will not mourn a monster.  The world is a much better place without Ariel Sharon.  I'm glad he's gone.