Monday, January 13, 2014

Ariel Sharon & His Failed Mission For Peace

Ariel Sharon [Feb 27, 1928–Jan. 11, 2014]

Ariel Sharon died on Saturday January 11, 2014; he was 85. For the last eight years of his life, Sharon was in a permanent vegetative state after suffering a stroke on January 4, 2006. Ariel was a larger-than-life personality, who held strong views; no doubt, he was a polarizing figure, who made enemies on both the left and the right of the political spectrum. Such is normative for men of action and power. The right will not forgive him for the 2005 Gaza disengagement; and the left for the 1982 Lebanon war when Sharon was defense minister. As for the Arab world, the hatred is palpable. What has been forgotten is that Prime Minister Sharon was planning a full disengagement from the West Bank before the stroke incapacitated him and relieved him of his duties and the office of leader of Israel. Contrary to how he has often been portrayed, Sharon wanted peace and security for Israel, Prof. George Jochnowitz writes: "Given these risks, why would Sharon have wanted to create an independent Palestine? To protect Israel, of course. He reasoned that if the Palestinians were attacking Israel as part of their fight for independence, he would take away their desire for independence as an excuse for their actions. Unfortunately, they don’t need such an excuse. Their opposition to Israel is motivated solely by their desire to wipe out the Jewish State."

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by George Jochnowitz

Ariel Sharon created a Palestinian state in 2005. It is called Gaza. It is a tiny state, but Sharon had said that if things worked out, Israel would unilaterally withdraw from most the West Bank. Sharon built a security fence to begin defining the boundaries of the projected West Bank withdrawal. This much-hated fence was an offer of withdrawal and a path to peace. Nobody ever understood that.

In order to create an independent Arab state in Gaza, Israel withdrew Jewish settlers. Some of them had to be carried out kicking and screaming. Israel was willing to do this for the sake of taking a step on the road to peace.

Things didn’t work out in Gaza, and so the Palestinian state remains tiny. Nobody in the world will admit that it exists—that Arabs rule their very own bit of land in Palestine. But it is true. And since the Palestinians were now independent, they could elect their own rulers. Hamas was voted into power in 2007. The Hamas Charter called for a replacement of Israel and the Palestinian Territories with an Islamic Palestinian state. Nowadays, to be sure, Hamas doesn’t say much about its Charter.

Nevertheless, Hamas has never given up launching rockets aimed at Israeli civilians. The rockets serve no strategic purpose whatsoever. They have no possible diplomatic benefit. They are designed solely to terrorize and kill innocent civilians, just like Hamas' other acts of terror.

Given these risks, why would Sharon have wanted to create an independent Palestine? To protect Israel, of course. He reasoned that if the Palestinians were attacking Israel as part of their fight for independence, he would take away their desire for independence as an excuse for their actions.

Unfortunately, they don’t need such an excuse. Their opposition to Israel is motivated solely by their desire to wipe out the Jewish State.

Hamas could not be bribed. Its idea of morality was opposing Israel’s existence. Hamas made sure that the independent Gaza state would be so dangerous to Israel that its borders would be closed, which leads to the continuation of international criticism against Israel.

Sharon tried. He made the mistake of being rational when dealing with an irrational enemy.

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George Jochnowitz was born in New York City, in 1937.  He became aware of different regional pronunciations when he was six, and he could consciously switch accents as a child. He got his Ph.D. in linguistics from Columbia University and taught linguistics at the College of Staten Island, CUNY.  His area of specialization was Jewish languages, in particular, Judeo-Italian dialects.  As part of a faculty-exchange agreement with Hebei University in Baoding, China, he was in China during the Tiananmen Massacre. He can be reached at george@jochnowitz.net.

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Copyright ©2014. George Jochnowitz. All Rights Reserved. This article was originally published in the algemeiner (January 12, 2014). It is published here with the permission of the author.

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