Sharon Up Against The Wall - Time of Greatest Danger
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Sharon Up Against The Wall - Time of Greatest Danger

MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 2/23/2002:

Bulls and Tyrants are most dangerous when wounded. And this is now the case with Ariel Sharon and the powerful Israeli military/intelligence/occupation authorities he now commands.

Sharon himself is not a General, or a politician for that matter, who should be underestimated. But then again, it is not just Sharon, not by a long-short. As outlined in previous articles the Israeli establishment largely composed of former Generals and intelligence officials is much more united in goals, if not in tactics and rhetoric, than is often portrayed.

Nor should it be forgotten Ariel Sharon and George Bush are friends and allies, and that both the Pentagon and CIA have very close and intimate ties to their counterparts in Israel. As the "War on Terrorism" heats up, and as counter-reactions of unforeseen kinds can be expected, there's no telling what this modern-day crusade could lead to and very little reason at the moment to be hopeful about what the foreseeable future now holds.


Suzanne Goldenberg in Gaza

[The Guardian - 22 February]: Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, offered up the least inspiring of messages to a public exhausted by a 17-month uprising and badly shaken by a spate of military fiascos last night: You must be patient, he said.

Mr Sharon's pep talk to the nation, delivered in a rare televised address, offered no new strategies for quelling the intifada beyond a vague promise to build buffer zones between Israel and the Palestinians.

Instead, the defensive prime minister lashed out at his critics and chided an increasingly restive public which has accused Mr Sharon of lacking an exit plan from the uprising.

"Some members of the public are criticising during these days when we have to be quiet," he said. "We have to be restrained, we have to remain cool about issues of peace and war. We must not be hasty.

He added: "There are no miracle solutions and no one should be misled by miracle solutions proposed by various commentators."

But the argument failed to sway Israeli television commentators, or Mr Sharon's leftwing opponents, who said he had betrayed Israelis by failing to offer an alternative vision.

"In an address like this you have to give answers to a people who are very worried," said Yossi Sarid, the leader of the leftwing Meretz party. "People are sitting at home, and they are waiting for answers. Will it be safe to leave my house in the next two weeks? Will it be safe for my children?"

The idea of a buffer zone has been in circulation for years, and apart from this sop to an increasingly impatient public, Mr Sharon's performance last night did little to shake the impression that, as Israel's crisis escalates, he is not the man with the answers.

Instead, the sense that Mr Sharon was losing his ability to call the shots deepened when the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, renewed his offer of a ceasefire, and effected the arrest of three fugitives Israel has demanded for months.

The arrests were Israel's price for ending Mr Arafat's virtual imprisonment in his Ramallah headquarters, and put pressure on Mr Sharon either to make good on his promise, or convince the international community that he has a good reason for continuing Mr Arafat's confinement.

As Israeli helicopter gunships and warplanes attacked Palestinian security installations across the West Bank and Gaza for a second day, Mr Sharon's speech made clear he had no intention of changing his strategy of trying to crush the uprising with military might, while isolating Mr Arafat.

The bombardments, ordered in reprisal for a devastating Palestinian commando-style attack on a West Bank check point which killed six Israelis, were the heaviest since the start of the uprising.

Eight people were killed yesterday in F-16 and helicopter gunship attacks on security compounds in Gaza and the West Bank, and in a tank invasion of the southern Gaza town of Rafah.

Mr Sharon's main concession to growing Israeli disaffection with his performance was the revival of a proposal to build a security zone between the West Bank and Gaza. He has not been a supporter of such ideas in the past - largely because they call for the dismantling of some Jewish settlements - and he did not spell out last night what he meant by a security zone.

Mr Sharon was just as evasive when asked for his response to the arrest earlier yesterday of three men wanted for the assassination of the far-right cabinet minister, Rechavam Zeevi, last October.

"We are checking our reports. We have heard various declarations of this sort in the past," he said

The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan said yesterday the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was heading for full-fledged war. "Truly, we are nearing the edge of the abyss," he told the security council.


It is three months since Ariel Sharon laid siege to Yasser Arafat in his Ramallah headquarters. With the violence mounting wildly, who is really besieging whom?

By David Hirst

[The Guardian - 22 February]: It is three months since Ariel Sharon laid siege to Yasser Arafat in his Ramallah headquarters. Physically, his position remains dire. An Israeli tank is stationed a mere 70 metres from where he sleeps and wakes. During Israel's latest land-sea-and-air assaults, a missile struck a police post in his compound. But, with the violence mounting wildly, who is really besieging whom? No better place to look for an answer than that earlier, epic encounter between the two and the rehearsal for this one, Sharon's three-month siege of West Beirut in 1982.

Then the idea was virtually the same as today. Then, too, Arafat and the PLO, deemed the source of all opposition to Israeli control over the West Bank and Gaza, had to be eliminated to make way for an "alternative leadership" that would acquiesce in it. It was likewise with overwhelming popular support that Sharon embarked on his grandiose scheme of geopolitical engineering which envisaged the replacement of the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan with a Republic of Palestine, to which the inhabitants of the occupied territories could be "transferred". He also had a green light from a highly sympathetic White House.

For sure, Arafat was militarily defeated. But it was a disaster for Sharon. Israel lacked the resources for such imperial designs. Palestinian resistance was too strong. The Israeli public soon turned against him. So did a President Reagan embarrassed by his excesses.

Twenty years on, he now stands face to face with the self-same watershed, the same decision whether, his whole strategy manifestly faltering, to press on regardless, or retreat. For once again, the objective he has set himself is so extreme that he is bound to fail unless he goes to the bitter end. But, again, to do so will confront Israel with unbearable costs and incalculable risks.

Ostensibly, he wants to return to the peace process. In reality, he never did. For this was a war which he and like-minded soldiers and politicians long anticipated; and, once he got this war, he did everything to fuel and perpetuate it.

It was never a secret: he always opposed the Oslo accord, and the historic compromise it involves, a Palestinian state on 22% of original Palestine. From the outset, this was his war to destroy any idea of Palestinian self-determination on any portion of Palestinian land, and any legitimate institution empowered to bring it about. However, though his basic ambition has not changed since Lebanon, the stakes are momentously higher with the struggle between the two peoples at its most critical juncture since Israel came into being in 1948.

As in Lebanon, Sharon began his campaign in favourable circumstances, swept into office by a people who saw him as their "saviour". He owed this spectacular comeback largely to Palestinian violence. He also profited from the public's perception that Arafat alone provoked the intifada, that he was still bent on Israel's destruction, and that, in the cycle of violence, the Israelis were only retaliating in self-defence.

Yet this was specious. For one thing, while Sharon openly proclaims a conception of "peace" wholly at odds with commitments Israel has solemnly entered into, Arafat has indefatigably reiterated his loyalty to the historic compromise he spent his later career educating his people to accept. For another, while the intifada was clearly waiting to happen, it was Sharon who finally triggered it with his inflammatory al-Aqsa walkabout. And it has be come ever clearer that the last thing Sharon actually wants is that period of calm he claims he does; every time it risks taking hold he has staged one of those "targeted killings" that inevitably provoke a Palestinian response.

But suddenly, this past week, Sharon has truly begun to pay the price of overweening aim and ferocious means. As they did in Lebanon, the Palestinians are resisting more strongly than he bargained for. It is basically a low-intensity war, and, for domestic and international reasons, he would clearly like to keep it that way. But that is also a kind of war in which the Palestinians, with their guerrilla and terrorist methods, are learning to inflict ever greater pain. "It is Lebanonisation now" - screamed Israeli newspapers at the weekend, amid official talk of setting up "security zones" in the occupied territories similar to the one from which Hizbullah forced Israel to withdraw in south Lebanon.

Sharon also faces growing resistance from his own public. More and more people are saying that he just doesn't have a remedy, or that he is far more interested in his rightwing agenda than in the welfare and safety of the people. And there is nothing like his 1982 Lebanon debacle to remind him how swiftly and profoundly the tide of opinion is now liable to turn against him.

This is an emergency from which, to a man like him, there is only one possible exit: a qualitative escalation.

Officially, at least, what has been happening these past two days does not amount to one. The real escalation, he has made it pretty clear, would come with the deposing, banishing or killing of the "irrelevant" captive of Ramallah whom he now publicly regrets that he did not "liquidate" in Beirut. His rightwing constituents now bay for Arafat's blood.

It is as nonsensical now as it was 20 years ago to lay all Israel's woes at one man's door, to imply that, since Arafat controls everything, getting rid of him would clear the way for that "alternative leadership". The first, unarmed, intifada of 1987-1993 was a total surprise to Arafat, and the second, violent one was directed, potentially, against him as much as the Israelis.

No sooner were Arafat gone than Sharon would have to escalate again; for it would quickly become clear that the intifada is a genuine popular movement that no collaborationist leadership would emerge to suppress. And, no small consideration for Sharon, the Bush administration has reportedly told him that destroying Arafat is a line he must not cross.

Small wonder Arafat seems so perky in his confinement. His physical grip on power may be fraying, but Sharon has greatly enhanced his personal standing. He always thrives in adversity, and he is making sure that the choice between his survival and demise would be as momentous in its implications as one man's fate could ever be. On the one hand, very much the peace-seeker still, he has lately gone to new lengths of flexibility. On the other, reverting to the heroic, freedom-fighter's rhetoric of old, reportedly his guards have been told to resist any Israeli incursion to the last man, up to and including "the death of the president". In other words, après moi le déluge . That choice, of course, is not his, but Sharon's, and, with the struggle so rapidly intensifying, it is surely close. For him, sparing his lifelong adversary would be as bitter a personal defeat as Beirut. Disposing of him would - for Arabs and Palestinians, at least - be a defeat for the whole idea that there can ever be peace.


Poll shows disillusionment and disenchantment as Palestinian attacks continue, with suicide bomber foiled in shop

By Suzanne Goldenberg

[The Guardian - Jerusalem - Saturday, February 23, 2002]: Ariel Sharon suffered a humbling finish to the most bruising week of his prime minstership yesterday with opinion polls charting a deepening disenchantment with the Israeli leadership. A poll conducted for the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, Israel's largest Hebrew daily, showed that 61% of Israelis were dissatisfied with Mr Sharon's performance, and just 38% would give him a passing grade for his handling of the 17-month Palestinian uprising.

His credibility score fell to 54%, a staggering drop from his approval rating of 70% in December and 77% last July. The collapse of Mr Sharon's credibility - accelerated by high Israeli casualties during a wave of Palestinian attacks on military targets and Jewish settlements in the West Bank - is unlikely to be arrested by his poor performance during a nationally televised address on Thursday.

Amid continued attacks on Israelis in the West Bank yesterday, Israeli commentators showed the prime minister no mercy, saying he had utterly failed to calm his people's anxieties on security, or Israel's deepening economic recession.

"The lion that meowed," said the headline on the front page comment in Ha'aretz newspaper, which went on to cavil: "With speeches like these to the nation, it is doubtful whether England would have emerged whole from world war two, or whether the United States would have dragged itself out of the economic crash of 1929."

The piece concluded: "The prime minister spoke last night in lofty words, but did not give the concerned citizen any horizon or any hope to cling to and shake off the despair."

There was little credit given to Mr Sharon's plan to establish buffer zones between the West Bank and Israel. Although the prime minister gave no details of the separation zone, and refused to say how it would effect some 145 Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, Israeli radio yesterday described a plan to create a 125-mile security cordon along the borders of the West Bank. It said the army would begin mapping out the zone in the coming weeks, imposing concrete barriers and eventually a fence.

Political sources told Israeli Radio that the zone, which would be miles deep in places, would be set off with trenches and minefields, in effect creating a death strip for Palestinians. However, aides for the prime minister did not mention land mines, and said the army would patrol the zone, which would be demarcated by roadblocks and high voltage fences.

The notion of a buffer zone between the West Bank and Israel has been in circulation for years. Similar barricades were imposed on a stretch of the West Bank last summer, cutting off the Palestinian city of Tulkaram from the Israeli suburb of Bat Hefer with razor wire, electric fences and a three-metre high wall.

Although yesterday brought a lull in Israel's bombardment of Palestinian towns, and security officials on both sides resumed contacts after several weeks, there was no let-up in the attacks by Palestinian militants.

An Israeli motorist was shot dead north of Jerusalem and a suicide bomber struck the supermarket of an illegal Jewish settlement at Efrat. A customer in the shop shot and killed the bomber before he could fully detonate his explosive belt. Near the West Bank city of Hebron, a Jewish settler who shot and wounded two Palestinians was mistakingly wounded by Israeli soldiers.

The thwarted bombing at Efrat, south of Jerusalem, marked the second time in less than a week that a Palestinian militant has succeeded in penetrating the heavily guarded Jewish settlements.

The attack underscored the vulnerability of the isolated Jewish outposts, despite Israel's suffocating blockade of Palestinian towns. Yesterday, the Israeli army closed off the main road to Ramallah, preventing Palestinians from visiting their relatives for the feast of Eid al-Adha.

Comment on these article(s)

February 2002


(February 28, 2002)
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Thousands of Israeli Soldiers Attack Refugee Camps
(February 28, 2002)
Under cover of diplomatic deception the Israelis, and the Americans, are preparing the way not for a Middle East peace, but rather for a major Middle East war that will attempt to recast the politics and alliances of the region for some time to come.

Israel Further Defies U.N. and Arab League
(February 28, 2002)
More Palestinians have died and been shot in the past weeks than in any other comparable period since the major wars in 1948 and 1967. Adjusted for the size of the U.S. population, about 100,000 Palestinians have been killed by the Israelis, with continual American assistance, just since Intifada II began! the Land of the Free
(February 27, 2002)
Since 11 September last year, up to 2,000 people in the U.S. have been detained without trial, or charge, or even legal rights. The fate of most is unknown. Andrew Gumbel investigates a scandal that shames the land of the free.

"Terrorism" For All Seasons and Reasons
(February 27, 2002)
While U.S. Attorney John Ashcroft is busy draping the statue of the Spirit of Justice, and while the White House is busy making excuses for getting rid of the Israeli-centric speechwriter, David Frum, the USG is using the "terrorism excuse" not only to get ready for "regime change" in Iraq but to keep "undesireables" from even speaking up through all kinds of new intimidation and repression techniques.

Diplomatic Deceptions Amidst War and Plunder Plans
(February 26, 2002)
There are so many things going on these days it's not easy to put all the pieces together. But among the things that should be causing people truly concerned about a just and viable Middle East much pause is this: ...

The Real George Bush Junior
(February 25, 2002)
The Bush White House is a little spooked, not quite sure what the public will make of all this For this "wholesome" President who has brought "dignity back to the White House", this video documentary about to debut could be the near-equivalent to Bill Clinton's public denials -- and all those senior officials he enlisted on his behalf -- followed by Monica Lewinsky's now-infamous semen-stained little "blue dress".

Blair and Bush to Plot War on Iraq at White House Summit
(February 25, 2002)
After Vice-President Cheney -- former Pentagon chief and former oil company executive -- makes an unprecedented visit to a dozen countries in the Middle East and central Asia that surround Iraq or that will be involved in one way or another in the coming "regime change" war, British PM Tony Blair and Pres George Bush II will hold a war council at the White House.

Pearl Was Israeli
(February 23, 2002)
We now learn that Daniel Pearl, the kidnapped and killed Wall Street Journal reporter, was an Israeli citizen. What more may we learn next?

Sharon Up Against The Wall - Time of Greatest Danger
(February 23, 2002)
Bulls and Tyrants are most dangerous when wounded. And this is now the case with Ariel Sharon and the powerful Israeli military/intelligence/occupation authorities he now commands.

Uncle Sam, Uncle Tom, and Uncle Ben
(February 22, 2002)
We all know who Uncle Sam is. And there are many who think of Colin Powell as Uncle Tom, thought admittedly he usually plays his role so well in public. The Israelis and Sharon have Shimon Peres. And the Americans and Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld have Colin Powell. But...Uncle Ben?

Israelis Proceed With Long-Term Plans
(February 22, 2002)
The current Israeli Prime Minister probably had plans to do just what he is now doing long ago. Since become PM he's just been manuevering to get things in place to do so. Even at the Wye River talks after he became Israeli Foreign Minister Sharon refused to even shake Yasser Arafat's hand.

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(February 21, 2002)
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(February 20, 2002)
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(February 20, 2002)
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The New Pentagon "Office of Strategic Influence" - Media Missiles Ahead
(February 19, 2002)
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(February 18, 2002)
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(February 18, 2002)
The American President is in Asia, touring one past and potential future battlefield in Korea. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is in India touring another. And the Vice-President is preparing for an unprecedented trip that will take him, along with senior military and CIA operatives, to nearly a dozen countries that just happen to surround Iraq.

Saudis To Propose Deal With Israel
(February 17, 2002)
are many ways to do things; and the Saudis have specialized in doing things in the wrong ways for the wrong reasons for a very long time now.

King Bandar of Saudi Arabia
(February 17, 2002)
Is it cowardice or ignorance that lies behind the rule of Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia -- the man effectively in charge of the oil and petrodollar "Kingdom" at this crucial historic time?

To Damn or to Applaud "Speaker Burg"
(February 15, 2002)
The very notion these days of simply "trusting" anyone associated with the Israeli political establishment or more specifically in this case Israel's Labor Party is pretty difficult -- there's such a long history of deceit and mistrust, and such good reasons.

WAR! U.S. and Israel Will Take On Both Iraq and Iran
(February 14, 2002)
Flushed with their "victory" against the primitive Muslim "Taliban" (students) of Afghanistan, the new name of the game for the new Washington -- run more than ever now by the oil companies, the Pentagon/CIA, and the military-industrial-banking complex -- is "regime change".

Arafat Screams "Israeli spy! CIA agent!" at Rajoub
(February 13, 2002)
Jibril Rajoub is not just an "Arafat aide". He's actually the main guy in charge of the West Bank for the "Palestinian Authority", groomed for some time now by both the Americans and the Israelis to possibly take over for Arafat and to help force his people into submission with his thuggish bruttish ways.

Musharraf Panders; Arafat Crippled
(February 13, 2002)
You'd have to be really crazy to buy a used car from Shimon Peres, or even to take it for free as in all likelihood the expensive repairs it would require would be more than it was worth. The idea of buying Peres' warmed over doubly-castrated "peace plan" and "Palestinian State" is even more foolish.

Arafat Slaps and Whips Out His Gun
(February 13, 2002)
The new Intifada, and then the events of 911, have spawned a variety of new press and Internet outlets of various kinds. The aim of many is to try to maintain some control of the information flow to certain constituencies, to "spin" the news in the direction of their sponsors, and to push their own analysts and "experts" onto radio and TV programs.

TV Arabs: Fouad, James, and Clovis - MER FlashBack
(February 12, 2002)
Why have things gotten so depressingly miserable when it comes to mass media coverage of the Middle East, especially in the United States? There is no single answer, no magic bullet solution. The answer is quite complex and multi-faceted in fact.

Kashmir - More Killed and Tortured than in Palestine
(February 12, 2002)
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(February 11, 2002)
"The course that Sharon, Bush and his British cheerleader, Tony Blair seem set upon will probably in the long run destabilize the Arab moderates, to the delight of the reactionary regimes in Syria, Iraq and Iran and the only true beneficiaries will once again be the extremists and the terrorists."

Standing Ovation for Mark Bruzonsky at University of Chicago
(February 9, 2002)
In Chicago the evening of 31 January 2002 Mark Bruzonsky, Publisher of MER, gave the keynote address at the University of Chicago Model United Nations. For the first time in the history of the keynote talks at this annual event the speaker received a prolonged standing ovation.

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(February 8, 2002)
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Washington Scene - Arab and Muslim "Client Orgs" Totally Lacking in Credibility
(February 8, 2002)
Ariel Sharon is on his fourth visit to Washington since both he and George Bush II took power. It is a War Council, coming at a time of unprecedented danger (Sharon clearly sees opportunity), coming at a time when he finally has Yasser Arafat, now the titular figurehead of the Palestinian people, under a newfangled form of town arrest in Ramallah with tanks pointing in his direction just a stone throw away.

"Transfer" the Palestinians Say Many Israelis
(February 7, 2002)
The Moledet party's media blitz for the mass expulsion of Palestinians is gaining momentum.

Triumphant Sharon
(February 7, 2002)
Ariel Sharon has arrived in Washington triumphant as many never believed could or would happen in their worst political nightmares. He may well be the single man who has had more influence on the Arab-Israeli conflict, and on the history of the entire region, than any other.

King Prostrates Jordan for More U.S. Money and "Support"
(February 6, 2002)
King Abdullah II, born of a British mother, Anglo-American educated including at the Jesuit Center of Georgetown University, and essentially enthroned with the help of the CIA (aided by Princeton grad daughter of the former head of Pan American Airlines, Lisa Halaby, reincarnated as Queen Noor), has been ever so helpful to the Americans as now since he was enthrowed as the former long-time Crown Prince was overthrown.

(February 6, 2002)

Lie To Them And They Will Come
(February 5, 2002)
For the holidaymaker in search of a sun-soaked Mediterranean beach away from the crowds, Gush Katif sounds ideal. Or so thinks Israel's hardline tourism minister, Binyamin Elon.

Killing and Refusing
(February 5, 2002)
There is a great deal of moral twisting and turning and cover-up going on among the Israelis; and oh so necessary however late in the day. This article in today's Ha'aretz gives the impression that torturing and shooting to death many Palestinians in cold-blood is something new or rare.

King Bandar of Arabia
(February 16, 2002)

Israel sets up Iran as next target for the US
(February 8, 2002)

"Americans Can Be A BloodThirsty Lot"
(February 4, 2002)

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