Ha'aretz of June 21, 2001

WHO ARE YOU REALLY,
ARIEL SHARON?

By Israel Harel

Many eyebrows were raised, especially among Israel Defense Forces senior commanders, when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared this week that he has "no intention of leading this nation into war.".What prompted Sharon to reveal, without even blinking an eye, to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat a decision that should be a classified strategic secret? After all, Arafat could understand from that declaration that he was being given carte blanche to continue his present actions and that the murder of Jews by Palestinians would not, according to Sharon's promise, lead to the only substantive response capable of stopping the killings.

How is it possible that Sharon, who is entrusted with the supreme responsibility for Israel's national security, disclosed, before the television cameras, something that is certainly top-secret, namely, his strategic decision not to unleash a full-scale war? To that question there can be only one answer: This is one giant hoax.

After all, the moment Sharon made this public declaration, Arafat came to only one conclusion - namely that, even if he continues to violate the cease-fire, both he and the entire PA are in no real danger.

It makes no sense - no sense whatsoever - that Sharon would actually issue Arafat a license to kill Jews or that Sharon would make such a slip of the tongue. Proof for this hypothesis - that Sharon is carrying out a major exercise in strategic deception - can be seen in what Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer proclaimed in Paris.

Ben-Eliezer, who himself is quite a gifted trickster, announced in the French capital: "We are following a policy of restraint and we will continue with that policy." This must be the answer to the riddle.

When Sharon, that old sly fox, rebukes his beloved allies - his faithful, bleeding allies - and tells them, in public and before the television cameras, that he is not prepared to go to war for them, this is an obvious sign that war is imminent.

When he urges them to "keep a stiff upper lip," he is actually saying that Israel is on the threshold of putting an end to the present period in which Sharon has allowed Arafat to go on killing Jews, to throw the lives of Israelis into utter havoc, and to even challenge both Sharon's standing in the world and his leadership of this country.

The only explanation that can solve the riddle of Sharon's repeated declarations that he will continue his policy of restraint is that he is pulling the wool over Arafat's eyes, big time.

On the eve of the Six Day War of June 1967, then Defense Minister Moshe Dayan donned his slippers, invited a group of journalists to his home in Tzahala and declared, just as Sharon declared this week, that he wanted to give the peace negotiations a chance and that "there is no need to lead this nation into war at the present time."

Then, as now, there were demonstrations and acts of protest against Israel's policy of restraint. However, the demonstrations turned into joyous rallies of support when it became clear that Israel had pulled a fast one on the enemy and that the victory was the greatest in Israeli history.

Sharon's act of deception circa June 2001 will be strikingly similar to Dayan's circa June 1967. Sharon will carry out another pre-emptive operation. Israel will launch a campaign that will deal a quick, decisive, elegant, but devastating blow, militarily and psychologically (just like the strike of the Israel Air Force in June 1967). It will end, once and for all, the nightmare on Israel's highways and in its shopping malls, discotheques and central bus stations.

Israel's deterrent force will be restored, Jews and non-Jews will once more visit this country as tourists, and the economy will again blossom. The timing of Sharon's deceptive declaration - namely that he has no intention of launching an all-out war against Palestinian terrorism - was no coincidence.

He issued this announcement on the day following the British Broadcasting Corporation television program that suggested the possibility of his being indicted for war crimes (complaints concerning those crimes have already been lodged with the Belgian authorities).

Sharon has made such arduous efforts to win the favor of both the world media and world public opinion and to prove that he is a moderate, responsible political leader who is not prepared to declare war even in the wake of the daily acts of murder committed against his own citizens. However, he learned this week that world media, despite the steep price he has paid to placate it, will never grant him legitimacy and will certainly never clear his name.

Not even if Arafat's terrorist acts reach unprecedented heights (or depths). No matter what, world media will always support Arafat the Arab and not Sharon the Jew. Had he not been bent on defrauding Arafat in such a grand fashion, Sharon would certainly have revealed to the settlers - just as Joseph revealed to his brothers in the Biblical narrative - his innermost thoughts.

He would have told them: "My dear brothers and sisters, your suffering will end very, very soon. Depressing terms like 'sitting ducks' will disappear from the national lexicon. No more will you say about yourselves in lamenting tones, 'We have become another South Lebanon Army, we have become another South Lebanon.' Israel Army Radio will stop its campaign of encouraging settlers to leave their homes. Your blood, I solemnly pledge, will no longer be cheap. And none of you will ever again ask me, 'Who are you, Ariel Sharon? Who are you, really?' After all, does it make any sense that I, Ariel Sharon, the same Ariel Sharon who sent you to your present homes, would allow Arafat to continue to shed your blood and that I would make no attempt to stop the terrorism, once and for all? Would I dare to shirk my duty to carry out this holy task?"

Thus, when it finally emerges that the policy of restraint has outlived its usefulness, Sharon will decide to take his stand and fight. And then the goal will be to deal a mortal blow, by means of a another brilliant, unique military campaign, (like the old days), to all the infrastructures of Palestinian terrorism.

It will strike the planners, the perpetrators, the stockpiles of weapons and ammunition, the laboratories for manufacturing arms and explosives, the inciting, seditious television and radio stations, and all other resources, whether human or technical, that have enabled, directly or indirectly, the Palestinian terrorists to strike out against both Jews and the State of Israel.

As the founder of modern political Zionism, Theodore Herzl, declared, "If you will it, it is not a dream." To paraphrase that: "If you will it, it is neither dream nor speculation.

(c) 2000 Ha'aretz. All Rights Reserved



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