Ariel Sharon scored a home run in Washington yesterday, and if that
doesn't defang his critics in Israel, the Jewish state ain't what it used to
The one (and maybe only) thing that brings together nearly all Israeli
Jews is the okay from Uncle Sam. America is seen as the country's
umbilical cord, and while there have been times when Israel stood fast
against U.S. pressure, nothing beats a nod from the White House.
Never did an American President give them anything like George Bush
delivered on the day after Passover.
Sharon, accused by his own settlers' movement of selling it and himself
out, under the gun of leftists who want him indicted for bribery,
condemned by the United Nations for assassinating the leader of
Hamas, then comes to Washington and brings home the flanken.
Bush calls him "heroic, courageous, bold" for his move to get out of
Gaza and remove a few settlements from the West Bank, and the
President says that Palestinian refugees will have to fulfill their "right of
return" in a Palestinian state, not in Israel.
But these were relatively easy deals for any American President,
particularly in an election year. What counted, big-time, was Bush's
rejection of the eternal State Department canard that the settlements
are illegal and the key "obstacles to peace" and that nothing but a
virtual pullback by Israel to the pre-1967-war borders could bring
peace and the establishment of a Palestinian state.
"In light of new realities," said Bush, "including already existing major
Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome
of final negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice
lines of 1949 ...."
Since Sharon, on the eve of embarking from Israel, announced that five
major Israeli population centers (read settlements) would remain in
Israel - well, do the math.
The Palestinian Authority, of course, rejected this out of hand - all of it,
including Bush's position on the "right of return."
But the prime minister of Britain, Tony Blair, who was expected by the
UN and the media to run hardball against Sharon's initiative,
"welcomed" his pledge to withdraw from Gaza and some settlements in
the West Bank.
So we must ask: Why did Sharon do what he did?
I think it's because he understood that the stagnation of the so-called
road map to peace would lead to nothing more than pressure on Israel
to give without getting from the Palestinians.
Sharon had long said that the Netzarim settlement in Gaza was as vital
to Israel's security as Tel Aviv. But the way the world worked after 9/11
made this appear as dinosaur talk. The world wanted Israel to
cooperate in the effort to co-opt the Arabs and lead them to be on our
side against terrorism.
Keeping Gaza as Israeli "occupied territory" ran totally against this
notion. Plus, a good two-thirds of Israeli public opinion wants out of
Gaza. And they want it now.
Of course, so did most American Jews and the State Department and
the White House. The State Department, the Israeli left and many
Jewish Americans wanted more - they wanted Israel out of the West
And here was the genius of Sharon. In the words of the late Jewish
criminal Israel Shawarzberg, "He pulled their teeth, so now they can
only gum him."
On May 2, Sharon's Likud Party will vote yes or no on his pullout from
Izzy Shawarzberg, wherever he is, lays 20 to 1 and out that Sharon
wins. They can only gum him.