Sharon the ethnic cleanser

by William James Martin

International Socialist Review, August 2002


In 1978, on the occasion of president Jimmy Carter's presiding over a meeting of the Israeli Cabinet-the only non-Jew to have ever chaired such a meeting-Carter was told by then minister of agriculture, Ariel Sharon, that there already was a Palestinian state, that it was Jordan, and that Carter could take for granted that within the next few years there would be 2 to 3 million Jews living in the occupied territories. Sharon added that "even as we speak, Jewish families are migrating into Judea and Samaria."

This statement echoes an earlier one of David Ben-Gurion, who later became Israel's first prime minister. In a 1937 letter to his son he writes:

"A partial Jewish stare is not the end, bur only the beginning. The establishment of such a Jewish state will serve as a means in our historical effort to redeem the country in its entirety.... We shall organize a modern defense force... and then I am certain that we will not be prevented from settling in other parts of the country, either by mutual agreement with our Arab neighbors or by some other means.... We will expel the Arabs and take their place...with the force at our disposal."

A few years later Ben-Gurion told a Zionist meeting:

"I favor partition of the country because when ~j we become a strong power after the establishment of the state, we will abolish partition and spread throughout all of Palestine."

As the leader of Israel, it is likely that Sharon's relentless destruction of the Palestinian Authority, the social institutions under Palestinian control, and his persistent subjugation of the Palestinians have less to do with self defense and more to do with the Zionist program of establishing a purely Jewish state in all of Palestine.

On July 8, 2001, Brigadier-General Shaul Mofaz presented to the Israeli government a document tided, "The destruction of the Palestinian forces," which proposed launching an attack intended to smash the Palestinian Authority, force out Yasser Arafat, and kill or detain its security forces. The assault would be timed after the next big suicide bomb attack in Israel that caused widespread deaths and injuries with Israel citing the bloodshed as the justification. The report said "a suicide bomb attack would provide the necessary motive for Israeli troops as well as enabling Israeli ambassadors and other officials to tell concerned countries that military action was a justified response."

The significance of the suicide bombings inside Israel, of which there have been about 60, is that they are an opportunity for Sharon and the Israel Defense Forces to respond by destroying more of the PA and to confiscate more territory. With every suicide bombing, Sharon can blame Arafat, gain support from George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld, increase the economic strangle hold of the Palestinians, and destroy more of the underpinnings of a viable Palestinian society, while keeping the focus on Arafat rather than on Israel's disregard for international law.

The relentless establishment of settlements in the West Bank and in Gaza have nothing to do with Israeli security. Israel has populated the Palestinian areas occupied in 1967 with about 400,000 mostly fanatical settlers whose presence in the midst of Palestinian populations enhances Israeli security not one iota. Nor do the 300 miles of bypass highways, on which only Israelis and Jewish settlers can travel, enhance Israeli security. These settlements and bypass highways, which exclude Palestinians, partition the West Bank into approximately 200 disjointed segments, making travel and commerce between them virtually impossible for Palestinians. For their construction, they require the confiscation of Palestinian agricultural land and the demolition of Palestinian residences. There have been about 9,000 Palestinian homes demolished by the Israelis since the beginning of occupation in 1967.

Nor did the recent invasion of Palestinian cities and towns have anything to do with self defense. Operation Defensive Shield featured the destruction and the theft of documents, computer hard drives, and laptops from the Ministry of Education, which housed records of over a million students. They wrecked the Palestinian Cultural Center, the Ministry of Deeds and Records, the International Bank of Palestine, and the numerous non-governmental institutions engaged in human rights, the promotion of health care, environmental protection, and water conservation. This destruction had a purpose, but it was not self-defense. Records of land transactions, years of intellectual effort captured and recorded in files or on computer hard drives-all were carted away by the Israeli army. The destruction and vandalism of infirmaries, libraries, and nurseries cannot be justified as legitimate self-defense.

Every aggression on the part of Israel is advertised as "defensive," but it was not in this case and it has never been in the entire history of Israel's existence. Every Israeli aggression has been launched to destroy the basis of Palestinian society, to erase from memory the Palestinian presence in Palestine.

One should not be fooled by Sharon's multiple uses of the word "terror" or "terrorists" in his every speech to Israeli and American audiences, nor by his constant effort to link the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon with a parallel threat from Arafat and the Palestinians.

Sharon knows what he is doing, he always has. He wants to make his statement to President Carter into a reality.


William Martin is a mathematics instructor at North Carolina State University

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