"The Israeli rhetoric echoes the policy towards Lebanon in the late 1960s and 1970s. In those days, Israel held Lebanon culpable for all Palestinian attacks. Israel sent messages to Lebanon by bombing villages and refugee camps in the southern part of that country, by assassinating Palestinian officials based in Beirut and by bombing Beirut itself. The message: the Lebanese must either control the Palestine Liberation Organisation or face the consequences."
"Arafat's real crisis is among his own people. They see him as just an Israeli sheriff who happens to speak their language."
"Arafat was one half of the Oslo agreement of 1993, which allowed the Palestinians to lose more than 10,000 acres of their land even while the settler population in the territories doubled and a small class of Arafat loyalists enriched themselves. In the 20 per cent of the West Bank and the 80 per cent of Gaza that Arafat's forces are allowed to police, his job has been to arrest Palestinians who threaten Israel. US officials encouraged him to try them before secret military courts."
MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 12/15/2001: General Sharon is Israel's chosen warrior tactician when the going gets even more bloody than usual. He is the thuggish brut General the Israelis call on when they are getting desperate. They did it in '73 when he lead the charge across the Suez and reversed the tide of battle in that war. They did it in '82 when he orchestrated the terrible war against Lebanon, leading to War Crimes charges he has been unable to shake. They are doing it now as their duplicitous "forced peace" crumbles and all around them is growing hatred and an escalating arms race. In the interims, even after being ordered to leave government and not to return by a special Israeli investigating commission, Sharon has championed the "settlers movement" and masterminded the apartheid approach to the Palestinians -- whether it is termed "autonomy" or "Statehood with restrictions", whether with or without Yasser Arafat.
Sharon specializes in lying and provoking, leading to brutal military clashes. He is accomplished and crafty at both; adding to his ealier reputation primarily for heartless bloodletting. There is considerable agreement even from those who despise him about his daring military bravado which has accompanied his savagery and racist cunning. And just to get the job as Prime Minister was quite a crafty political feat which began, in addition to all the past scheming, when he masterminded the fall of Bibi Netanyahu with himself in the Foreign Minister's chair, then ignited Intifada II, and then undermined fellow General Ehud Barak while he was positioned at the top of his Likud party and able to propell himself into power by a landslide vote.
Now General Sharon is positioned for probably his final huge historical battle; and it is hardly just against Arafat and the Palestinians. Sharon is once again maneuvering to change the face and the future of the entire Middle East. And if he is allowed to proceed by both circumstances and the Americans he will try to implement his ideological mentor's vision to vanquish the Palestinians to a state of their own across the River in what was once Transjordan and is now the shaking last stand for the Hashemites first brought to power by the Brits in the days of Lawrence.
And if he can he Sharon will at the same time attempt to destroy Arab and Muslim power for at least another generation, from Pakistan and Iran in the East, to Syria in the north, to Egypt and Libya in the West.
Sounds rather far-fetched and exceedingly alarmist to many...we know. But there is a long history here going back to Vladamir Jabotinsky's form of brown-shirt militant Jewish facism -- and it was Jabotinsky's picture which adorned the wall behind him the day Ariel Sharon took the oath as Prime Minister of the wounded, bleeding, and frightened Jewish State that is today's legacy of so much past bloodletting.
[NEW STATESMAN, U.K. - Jerusalem - 10 December 2001]:
"How much time will this colonial war continue; how many more victims on either side will it claim, and will Israel part company with the Palestinians as friends and allies or will it leave both sides - both Palestinians and Israelis - with feelings of rage and vengeance, feelings that might continue for generations?"
Another Palestinian has killed himself in Jerusalem. He was walking towards the David Citadel Hotel in King David Street, where two Israeli ministers were staying. The minister of public security, Uzi Landau, and the religious affairs minister, Asher Ohana, could not have known that the boy was on his way to kill them. Then, at 7.35 in the morning, an explosion shook the hotel. The boy obliterated himself prematurely, before he could get anywhere near the ministers. Perhaps he was nervous, perhaps the detonator was shoddy. That was on Wednesday, 5 December.
His attempted murder was itself a response, or revenge for, Israel's bombardment the previous day of the West Bank and Gaza. On Tuesday, the Israelis killed three Palestinians. The youngest was 15, and died when the Israeli army bombed the West Bank and Gaza in response to the weekend bombs that killed 25 in Haifa, which were in turn an answer to the assassination of the Islamic Jihad leader, Mahmoud Abu Hanoud, whom Israel murdered in response to . . . And so it goes.
When the pieces of the bomber's body were found on the Jewish, western side of this very divided city, an Israeli government spokesman, Arye Mekel, said of Yasser Arafat, the chairman of the Palestinian Authority: "So far, he has not heard our message, and we may have to send some more."
The Israeli messages to Arafat have grown louder and more determined over the past year. The Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, holds Arafat responsible for all actions against Israel by Palestinians, whether they belong to Arafat's police, his paramilitary Fatah commandos or his rivals in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Islamic Jihad and Hamas. The Israeli rhetoric echoes the policy towards Lebanon in the late 1960s and 1970s. In those days, Israel held Lebanon culpable for all Palestinian attacks. Israel sent messages to Lebanon by bombing villages and refugee camps in the southern part of that country, by assassinating Palestinian officials based in Beirut and by bombing Beirut itself. The message: the Lebanese must either control the Palestine Liberation Organisation or face the consequences.
In the event, the consequence was a civil war that destroyed the Lebanese state and left it a Syrian colony. As defence minister in 1982, Sharon put an end to Arafat and the PLO in Lebanon with his siege of Beirut and the massacres of Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. The brutality of the invasion caused many Lebanese, who had grown weary of PLO misrule in west Beirut, to fight on the Arafat side. What effect will attacking Arafat in Ramallah have on his own people, most of whom, like the Lebanese between 1976 and 1982, have profound misgivings about his leadership?
Can Yasser Arafat control those who would attack Israel? This is the question, as framed by Ariel Sharon and repeated by the George W Bush administration. Perhaps he can, just as Sharon can control the Israeli forces who bomb Palestinians, assassinate Palestinians, humiliate Palestinians at roadblocks, interrogate Palestinians with "moderate physical pressure" and take Palestinian land. Will either side "control" its own? This is crucial because, as Sami Michael, the Israeli Jewish writer, told the daily Ha'aretz in September: "The street leads the leaders and not the other way around. The policy of the government is to respond."
A few days before the bombardments, I saw the mayor of Nablus, Ghassan Shakah, at his offices. Nablus is the largest city on the West Bank and, with light factories and food-processing plants, the closest thing to an industrial heartland that the Palestinians have. Nablus was surviving on only one hour of water a day (but the nearby Israeli settlements had an uninterrupted supply). When electricity lines were damaged, Shakah said, his engineers had to wait days for Israeli permission to leave the city limits to repair them.
Shakah is very much a part of the Arafat apparatus in Nablus, a Fatah member from an old, established family. "To be frank, I don't know when we will collapse," he said. "Since 1994, we are trying to tell our people about prosperity, security, a Palestinian state, peace. But, every time, the Israelis insist on showing us as liars to our people."
Arafat was one half of the Oslo agreement of 1993, which allowed the Palestinians to lose more than 10,000 acres of their land even while the settler population in the territories doubled and a small class of Arafat loyalists enriched themselves.