Ariel Sharon, the man responsible for the massacre of 2,000 Palestinian refugees in West Beirut in 1982, is now the head of the only nuclear power in the Middle East.
Sharon’s election as prime minister of Israel on Tuesday will send shockwaves throughout the Arab world.
He is a vicious racist who has made his living over the last 50 years repressing and persecuting Palestinians.
The state of Israel was founded in 1948 after settler militias forcibly expelled 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland. Since then the Israeli state has claimed it occupies a land that was previously unpopulated.
Sharon signed up to a racist vision that sees Arabs as inferior. In the 1950s he led Israeli forces against Palestinian villages and refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza, areas where a large number of Palestinians had fled to after 1948.
Sharon’s militia killed 50 Palestinians in a raid on the El-Bureig refugee camp in the Gaza Strip in 1953.
His unit destroyed the West Bank village of Qibya later that year by dynamiting houses with Palestinian residents still inside. They killed 69 people. He was the military commander of Gaza throughout the 1970s after Israel invaded and occupied the West Bank and Gaza in 1967.
Israel attempted to eliminate any form of Palestinian resistance and culture. It banned the Palestinian flag, independent organisations and ‘subversive’ literature.
Sharon took on his role with glee. He ordered troops to take extreme measures to deal with demonstrators. He was defence minister in the Israeli government in the 1980s and urged soldiers to beat Arab school children in the West Bank.
His advice when asked how to deal with demonstrators was, ‘Cut off their testicles.’
He led the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 to drive the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) from the country. Around 20,000 people were killed. The Israeli army bombed West Beirut, killing thousands of Lebanese and Palestinian civilians.
It forced the PLO to flee, then occupied the city and allowed its allies, the fascists in the Christian militia the Phalange, to enter the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla.
Israeli soldiers secured the perimeter as the Phalange slaughtered over 2,000 men, women and children. The massacres at Sabra and Shatilla sent waves of revulsion across the world. Sharon, as defence minister and leader of the Israeli troops, allowed the murders to happen.
Even an Israeli court found him responsible for the deaths and he had to leave office. As the journalist Robert Fisk, who saw the refugee camps the day after the massacre, said of Sharon, ‘His name is synonymous with butchery, with bloated corpses and disembowelled women and dead babies, with rape and pillage and murder.’
Amazingly the slaughter at Sabra and Shatilla did not end Sharon’s political career. He returned to office in the extreme right wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu in the 1990s.
He urged Jewish people to settle illegally throughout the West Bank, Gaza and Arab East Jerusalem in defiance of the peace process between Israel and the newly formed Palestinian Authority.
Arabs despise Sharon for his racist and brutal past. That is why they rose up and began a new intifada, or uprising, when he visited the Temple Mount, one of the holiest sites in Islam, in Jerusalem to prove Israel’s superiority.
Everyone should support that uprising against oppression.
The Guardian’s editorial on Monday of this week claimed that Ehud Barak, the outgoing prime minister of Israel, has attempted to bring peace to the Middle East and that Sharon would be a ‘change for the worse’.
There is little difference between Barak and Sharon. Barak was elected prime minister in 1999 with the backing of the one million Arabs allowed to live in Israel.
He promised peace. Instead he has arrogantly forced Yasser Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, to make constant concessions. Barak supports and protects the Jewish settlers in Palestinian areas.
These settlers, in league with the Israeli army, continue to violently attack Palestinians and steal their land. He refuses to allow the three and a half million Palestinian refugees who are scattered through the Middle East the right to return to their homes in Israel, though every Jew in the world has the right to live in Israel.
Barak has allowed Israeli soldiers to shoot dead over 320 Palestinians since the start of the intifada. Israeli forces have taken over 1,000 acres of Palestinian land around Jewish settlements since September.
The average unemployment rate in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority is now 45 percent.
Azmi Bishara, an Israeli Arab member of the Israeli parliament, said: ‘If after all the killing we vote for Barak, it would give the green light to the next prime minister to shoot and do whatever he likes to us because he knows in the end the Arabs will vote for him.’
That is why most Israeli Arabs cast a blank vote on Tuesday.
Supporters of Palestinian rights protested outside the Israeli embassy in London on Tuesday night. Other activities are planned across Britain.
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