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Mythographia Sharonensis

By Michael J. Smith on Tuesday January 10, 2006 12:29 PM

"Democratic royalty" and perjurer Bill Clinton seems to have appointed himself high priest of the soon-to-be-posthumous-I-hope Sharon cult:
"Mr. Sharon had not only withdrawn from Gaza, he had started a new party with the purpose of continuing to push for peace," Clinton said. "All of us who believe in peace in the Middle East are in his debt, and so more than anything else, I pray for his health." ... His illness "puts yet another obstacle in the path of the peacemakers," Clinton said. "It's almost as if God were testing them one more time to rise again, to keep on."
Nobody ever said Clinton was short on chutzpah, but Paris seems to have put him in rare form. All those girls in thongs, perhaps, and who could blame him? Still, all this stuff about God.... hard to say which is more breathtaking, really: Clinton's theological ruminations or his eulogy of Sharon as a peacemaker.

Personally, I don't feel that I understand the Almighty very well, but I sure as hell understood Sharon. A peacemaker he was not, and never would be -- except in the rather specialized sense noted by Tacitus, a sense in which Sharon was very much the image of his imperial patron the US.

The emerging Reader's Digest capsule bio of Sharon reads something like this: tough old soldier, may have gone a little overboard from time to time, but lately he grew into a Man Of Vision. He stood up to the "extremists" on the Israeli right and with rare courage gave up Gaza as a down payment for "peace". He was in the process of founding a "centrist" party (sort of like the Democrats, hmmm?) when the King of the Universe, unable to deny Himself any longer the company of such a holy old soul, revoked his lease on life and called him home.

Deconstructing this myth would take a book, and somebody ought to write it. Suffice for the moment to observe that Israel's leaders have never really wanted Gaza; it was never more than a bargaining chip. (Those loopy settlers are another story, of course; but for the purposes of the Israeli state they fall into the category of useful idiots, or rather, temporarily useful idiots. More on this topic below).

The reason Sharon could give up Gaza unilaterally was that he had no intention of doing any bargaining, so a bargaining chip was useless to him. Sharon's own adviser Dov Weissglas spilled the beans on this topic in an interview last October in Ha'Aretz. Sharon meant to carve up the West Bank, penning the Palestinians into a few Bantustans and keeping the rest, all by fait accompli rather than negotiation.

His "courage" in standing up to the settlers -- or a few of them, anyway -- is cut from the same cloth as his devotion to peace. The settlers were useful as long as it was important to create "facts on the ground." Now that the facts are in place, and Sharon was ready to capitalize on them, these loons with their fantasies of red heifers and whatnot have served their purpose.

Indeed, Sharon's move to create his "Centrist" Kadima party is best seen as a move to isolate the loons in the rump of the Likud, and symmetrically isolate the "gentle souls" of Israeli liberalism in the rump of Labor. The serious-minded -- undistracted by quaint notions about divinity, or humanity -- would create a new institutional expression for what has always been a matter of practical consensus, between the leadership and core constituents of both parties, about Israel's destiny.

Comments (1)


Then again, it shouldn't be surprising that Clinton would eulogize Sharon. Supporting Israel no matter how many people its government kills, after all, is a thoroughly bipartisan act.

By the way, I wanted to say that I love your blog, and I can't wait until the other chapters of your book come out. If there was ever a time when this was needed, it's now.

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