While Israel’s military, purportedly on its way to get out of the Gaza Strip, is getting deeper and deeper into it, exercising its long terrorist tradition of forcing the civilian population to collaborate in massive killing and the destruction of homes and infrastructure, Sharon’s top advisor Dov Weisglass made it to Ha’aretz‘s front page (Oct. 6, 2004):
“The significance of [Sharon’s] disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process. … The disengagement is actually formaldehyde, it supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians. … What I effectively agreed to with the Americans was that part of the settlements would not be dealt with at all, and the rest will not be dealt with until the Palestinians turn into Finns. That is the significance of what we did.”
In the full interview (Oct. 8, 2004) Weisglass elaborated:
“When you freeze the political process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and you prevent a discussion on the subject of refugees, borders and Jerusalem. This whole package called ‘the Palestinian state’ has been removed from the daily agenda for an unlimited period of time.”
A short diplomatic embarrassment followed, but it took just a few hours for the Bush administration to pretend Sharon’s spit in its face was just rain. After all, if Israel wants to have war forever, why should the White House care? It’s good for the weapon industry, and Bush has an election to win.
The anti-peace plan, Weisglass explained, was a reaction to “international erosion, internal erosion. … The Geneva Initiative had gained broad support. And then we were hit with the letters of officers and letters of pilots and letters of commandos [refusing to serve in the territories].” In other words, Sharon’s rejectionism found itself under pressure from a broad coalition of peace-seeking forces, both inside and outside Israel, and his plan was aimed at stopping the pressure on Israel to make peace along the lines supported by international law, by UN resolutions and, according to opinion polls, by a majority of the Israelis.
We can now safely assess that Sharon’s malicious plan has been quite successful. His anti-peace plan is hailed worldwide as if it were a peace plan, marginalizing true peace plans like the Geneva accords, Ayalon-Nusseiba’s plan or the Arab peace initiative. Sharon became the hero of the Peace Camp.
Much Ado about Nothing
One wonders, however, what the fuss was all about. There was nothing really new in Weisglass’ words. Sharon himself had said similar things several times before, as quoted even in my own previous column. But the media, especially Israeli and the American, turn a blind eye and a deaf ear on everything that might shake the prejudice about “Israel’s longing for peace.” Paying lip-service to critical journalism by gently criticizing Israel’s atrocities in the occupied territories is one thing; saying the full truth about Israel’s War against Peace is a taboo. This is why, as Akiva Eldar of Ha’aretz says (Oct. 15, 2004, Hebrew only), “perhaps the reporters and the political analysts, and the editors too, mostly support the disengagement, and conceal news items that might jeopardize the limping support for the plan.”
Eldar attributes the scandal that Weisglass’ words made to the agenda-free interview by Ari Shavit. I myself do not trust Shavit, who has been everything but agenda-free in promoting former PM Barak’s perfidious version of the collapse of the Oslo Process; even this interview might have to do with Barak’s threat to return to politics, the nightmare of every supporter of peace. Weisglass’ words may have struck a chord simply because of the emphasis they were given on Ha’aretz‘s front page. And who knows, this emphasis may have to do with the person of Ha’aretz‘s newly appointed news editor, Meron Rapoport, who had been fired from the Yediot Achronot for daring to quote Israel’s state comptroller saying “Sharon Did Not Say the Truth” on the daily’s front page.
We Want to Be Deceived
So, just like in the Oslo years, the media again betrayed their duty and deceived their audience by portraying a Plan against Peace as if it were a Peace Plan. If you think Weisglass’ “scoop” changes something, think again. The world wants to be cheated, and one can hardly blame Sharon for delivering the deceitful goods. Even the sane column of senior mainstream analyst Ze’ev Schiff, who draws the reasonable conclusion that
“The clarifications provided by Weisglass in his interview reinforce the claim that ‘third parties,’ including observers, must take an active role in the Gaza Strip. At first it seemed as though we could manage there without them, but the present disengagement formula is liable to lead the Gaza Strip to chaos, heavy shooting and an indirect occupation”
has been (editorially?) titled “Hijacking the Disengagement From Sharon” (Ha’aretz, Oct. 15, 2004), to make sure that no matter what, the “disengagement” itself is worthy of support. But why engage in such hair-splitting interpretations? Let’s see what lesson Ha’aretz‘s editorial learned from its own “scoop” about Sharon’s perfidious plan (Oct. 8, 2004):
"Weisglass’s statements should not divert attention from the main issue: the significance of implementing the disengagement plan and the evacuation of the settlers from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank. … With all due respect to the prime minister’s adviser, he has no control on the future, and his analysis of the disengagement is no better than that of other politicians and pundits. … Sharon’s ‘real’ intentions, and his problematic record, are a lot less important than his actions: the implementation of a unilateral disengagement is better than a fruitless diplomatic process leading to a dead end. Therefore, Sharon must be supported with his actions being the test of his intent."
No introspection, no second thoughts. According to Ha’aretz, we should support Sharon in spite of his words, in spite of his true intentions as exposed by his most senior adviser, and we should judge him exclusively by his actions. What were Sharon’s actions when these satanic lines were being written? Killing dozens of Palestinians in Gaza, bulldozing scores of Palestinian homes to make room for the Gaza settlements (“security zones to facilitate their future evacuation” is the official excuse). But the hand or hands that wrote these lines for Ha’aretz did not tremble: we should support Sharon, if not for his words then for his deeds, if not for his deeds then for his words, we should support Sharon and that’s it. In the words of Yoel Marcus, considered Israel’s most influential political analyst, “Don’t let him fall.” Our leader may be a liar, he may have a “problematic record,” we may not like what he is saying and we may not like what he is doing, but don’t let him fall because he is our leader. When our leader says peace, he means peace, and when he says war, he also means peace, so we should support him whatever he says. When he makes war, we should definitely support him even more, because he wouldn’t be making war if it weren’t in the interest of peace. That’s what liberal democracy, political activism, and independent media are all about.
Meanwhile, on the Syrian Front
President Assad Junior keeps courting Israel. Having announced his “interest in overt negotiations in a just and comprehensive peace,” he now changed an old Syrian law banning negotiations with Israel. The corrected law (as quoted in Yediot Achronot, Oct. 15, 2004) states, “Syria will act to achieve a peace treaty with Israel, based on international UN decisions.” Sharon in a dismissing note in the Knesset: “We do not negotiate with the Syrians because we have no indications that this is serious.” Sure: if the danger of peace were serious, we would send our jets to bomb it away.
The Israeli Peace Camp keeps quiet about Sharon’s repeated rejections of Syria’s peace proposals. As even right-wing novelist Eyal Meged (YNET, Oct. 3, 2004, Hebrew only) correctly observes, the Peace Camp is so busy supporting Sharon’s “peace” with the Palestinians, that it doesn’t want to bother the Leader with trifles like peace with Syria. After all, making peace on two fronts is really too much (especially when you don’t want to make it even on one).