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The Philadelphia Jewish Voice
October 2005

Letters to the Editor

Gaza Dossier Feedback: Sharon Hero or Copycat?

As we look at the miracle of Gaza resettlement, I cannot think of Ariel Sharon as a hero. What I see in 2006 is an acknowledgement that Ariel Sharon now embraces the very demographic and political arguments that he opposed in 2000, when he ran against Ehud Barak. Had Sharon embraced Barak in 2000 in the way that Shimon Peres embraces Sharon in 2006, there would have been no intifada. Instead, what Arafat saw when he faced Israel was a divided front: what Arafat hoped to accomplish with his intifada was to weaken Barak, to the point where he could extract further concessions but still become the hero of the compromise. By presenting Palestinians with a united political front in 2006, Israel has made it impossible for such a strategy to work. By presenting a united front in 2000, Sharon could have made weakening Barak's position similarly impossible.

Instead, Sharon embarked on his own strategy to weaken Barak, a chance for peace was lost for six years, with many Israeli and Palestinian dead in consequence. While I am pleased that Sharon acknowledges to the ghost of Rabin, and to the Israeli Peace Movement, that they were right, I am equally concerned with Sharon's portrayal in heroic terms today, for what in 2000 was a selfish power-grab, marching hundreds of troops past  the Al Aqsa mosque for his own political advancement. Let me also make clear that I think Arafat's strategy was ill-conceived, poorly executed, and morally reprehensible. Arafat's refusal to negotiate in good faith will go down in the annals of history as a tragic loss for his people.

His intifada was a military failure, a moral surrender, and a negotiating disaster.

Ben Burrows

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