Monday, October 3, 2005

Sharon as the Hero of the Left

I guess it is the time of year for trends and fashion. This fall almost everybody, including some of our friends in the peace movement are wearing Sharon. The disengagement in Gaza, the uprooting of the settlers and then the dramatic victory in the Likud Central Party have all intoxicated the faint-hearted. Instead of Peace Now, we are hearing Sharon Now.

Here again, the wish is the father of the thought: Sharon can make peace. He has the parliamentary mandate and the public support. Now since there is no visible alternative, isn’t it a simple question of smart politics to stop confronting and angering him and isolating ourselves in the public?

She Has A Dream

Janet Aviad is the hands-on chief of Peace Now, which has not held a leadership election for as long as anyone remembers. Veteran journalist, Daniel Ben Simon, interviewed Aviad as one of the personifications of the latest trend that highlights the Prime Minister as the hero of the left. Aviad’s conversion on the road to Gaza is only relevant after detailing her previous opposition to Sharon. But now? Aviad explains: “What he did was the most important thing that ever happened to the Israeli left, because what could be better than having Sharon himself evacuate settlements. I am now an optimistic woman with hope, who feels wonderful because the state underwent the disengagement without a trauma.” Ben Simon concludes: Now Aviad hopes that the dream of a new Sharon will never end. (Ha’aretz, October 3, 2005).

Tsali Reshef, one of the founders of PN and a sort of a ‘grey eminence’ today, together with Aviad and others in PN, misread Sharon’s clever gambit as an ‘unprecedented historic breakthrough’. They, with the Labor Party, which is busily exploiting the ‘new Sharon’ legend as the main excuse to remain in the government, continue to spread illusions regarding Sharon’s real policies and intentions. These illusions, along with more than a little servile flattery flourish and are being enhanced precisely when the Likud leader, exploiting the credit earned by the disengagement, remains in real control of Gaza and unabashedly moves to tighten even further Israeli control over the West Bank. Sharon and his policies remain responsible for the stalemate in the peace process and for the day-to-day suffering of the Palestinians under brutal occupation. But, I guess that if reality is so bitter, some people prefer to ‘disengage’ by dreaming.

So as to confirm the worst anxieties, Peace Now has decided to de-emphasize the demand for a speedy resumption of negotiations and the exposure of violations of human rights under the occupation. According to Reshef, these things are important, but there are other organizations for dealing with them. Accordingly, Peace Now has developed its own plan for three or four more staged evacuations (up to 2010) of groups of settlements on the West Bank. Disengagements, it seems, are an ‘in’ thing. Sharon will undoubtedly take a very close look at the detailed Peace Now outlines when he can no longer bluff anyone with his declared adherence to the Road Map, with his governments famous fourteen reservations.

And after all is said and done, with a trend here and a ‘rating’ there, Ariel Sharon is only as strong as his mentor, George W. Bush. Bush, however is knee deep in the mud of Mesopotamia and Louisiana. Imagine Sharon trying to pull him on to dry land.