05 January 2006

The General's Last Stand

Ariel Sharon isn’t the only one in need of medical attention. Some could easily argue that the Israeli government on the whole is on life support; the political death of Sharon could be the tipping point that changes the entire dynamic of Israel and her relationship with the Middle East Peace Process. Some could argue that Sharon is one of the last in a dying breed of Israeli politicians, old enough to remember the glory days of the Six Day War, malleable enough to relinquish the spoils of victory in exchange for broken promises and the hope for peace.

As the death knell sounds for the era of Land for Peace we are left wondering what will be the future of Israeli politics? Despite poll numbers published by the notoriously left-wing Israeli media, I now cannot believe that the fledgling Kadima party has any chance for success in the upcoming elections. It is a party of politically elite has-beens trying desperately to retain some sort of old guard middle ground in the post-Disengagement era. If the torture of separating Jewish people from their own homeland wasn't enough, the consequential establishment of joint Hamas/Al-Quaeda terror bases in the Gaza Strip should certainly be enough to convince the Israeli people that Land for Peace can no longer be considered a viable option if the State of Israel is to survive.

Days before his second and massive stroke, international media outlets reported that Sharon was considering an end to the infamous “Road Map for Peace.” Instead of attempting more fruitless negotiations and land deals with the Palestinians, Israel would demand money and signed promises from America, guaranteeing Israeli security in exchange for Judea and Samaria. This would put America in the role of grand arbiter for the Palestinians, a role that some would argue America has already taken on in full force. Sharon’s “new plan” would also agree with the land for peace portion of Kadima’s political platform. Some would argue, and rightly so, that the only difference between this new plan and the Road Map is the absence of the Palestinians at the negotiating table. Does that really matter? The Palestinians have repeatedly declared that they want nothing more than the death of Israel. They have backed up these proclamations by not abiding by agreements and, in fact, increasing terror activities against Israel before the ink on every "peace deal" was dry. Therefore, would Sharon’s "new plan" truly differ from the Road Map at all? Literally speaking, no. Ideologically speaking, yes.

If this purported plan was truly in Sharon's playbook, could it be that his sole purpose in leaking it to the press was to declare to the world that what is really at stake in the whole Middle East Peace Process isn't Israel's relationship with the Palestinians, but her relationship with America? In making America the sole arbiter of Israel's greatest enemy, was Sharon really saying that the country that used to be Israel's greatest ally can no longer be considered a trusted friend? That Israel should approach America as a political force that must be dealt with, one-on-one? Was Sharon acknowledging what he himself was forced to realize during the dark days of Disengagement: The entire Middle East Peace Process was not waged between an Israeli/American joint force versus the Arab world, but between Israel and an Arab/American alliance?

Sharon may be dying, but the General who swore, "no more land for peace" will be dying with his boots on. In the end, only HaShem truly knows what drove this bullish force to kowtow to the demands of foreign leaders, to watch as his own people were forced from the homes he had helped to build only decades ago. With one careful leak, however, Ariel Sharon showed the world that he would not go gently into that good night. In the wise and careful way of a soldier who has been forced to become a politician, Ariel Sharon revealed to the world the mind-boggling truth of Middle East politics: Israel is alone. Alone in wanting sovereignty; alone in wanting peace; alone in wanting friendship with America and the rest of the world. For the first time, an Israeli politician has acknowledged that Israel is alone in her fight for survival. If his words are heeded above the noise and the rhetoric surrounding his passing, the General who seemed to fail his people may have just given Israel and her real allies the knowledge we need to start winning the fight.

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