Op-Ed: Sharon the Weakling
Tzvi Ben GedalyahuThe author is a former reporter and senior copy editor for American and Canadian newspapers and currently is a leading journalist with Arutz Sheva as well as contriibuting to the Jerusalem Post and various American Jewish newspapers.
Regardless of the correctness of the theory, Sharon indeed is weak, a man whose idealism is to stay in power, regardless of which side of an argument he takes. American President George W. Bush, along with a few other world leaders, convinced him that he would not stay in office very long if he didn't follow the failed path of his predecessors Yitzchak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak, and sit down and negotiate with Arab terrorists.
The media and courts have rallied behind the cause and orchestrated the illusion that the people are behind him. He could not care less about democracy or human dignity, so long as he has public support. Sharon is a warrior who knows only one thing: how to win. If his side is losing and has no chance of victory, he simply jumps to the other side.
The prime minister proved the point last Tuesday. He has been bellowing for months that Egypt will deploy armed troops along the international border, including the Philadelphi Route, which has been the site of numerous terrorist attacks and an aboveground and underground source of smuggling. Under his grand scheme, Egypt will secure a peaceful border and prevent terrorists from entering Israel. Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee Chairman Yuval Steinitz, of the Likud party, objected. He stated that the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace agreement prohibits Egypt from placing armed soldiers on the border and in the Sinai. Committee lawyers supported Steinitz' stand that the proposal violates the accords with Egypt and requires approval of the Knesset.
Sharon ignored Steinitz, just as he has ignored everyone else who gets in his way. When Steinitz asked Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to decide the issue, Mazuz, not surprisingly, sided with Sharon. He repeated Sharon's argument that Egypt now has policeman on the border and the deal only replaces them with soldiers.
On Tuesday, though, National Union Knesset Member Uri Ariel filed a petition with the High Court, as did two other MKs. They asked the court to rule that Sharon cannot go ahead without Knesset approval.
A few hours later, the prime minister, without any explanation, said he would not object to the Knesset's voting on the proposal. No explanation was necessary, because it was obvious. He saw the handwriting on the wall. The proposed change is very substantive, as it gives the Egyptian army a presence that the so-called peace treaty prohibits. Sharon preferred to join the other side voluntarily rather than face a High Court order stating that he was wrong.
In plain English, Sharon goes with the wind. His obstinate, dictatorial and seemingly inhuman juggernaut towards turning over Jewish communities to the enemy has been fueled by the illusion that the people are behind him.
The media in particular have worked hard to create the illusion. Even when opinion polls last month showed that only half of the people are for the plan, the media and politicians convinced themselves that the drop was temporary. Then came the violence and police brutality, regardless of whether or not it was incited by real extremists or government agents trying to sway public opinion against opponents to the expulsion plan. The support shot back up towards 60 percent, the Disengagement Authority continued to spread false stories, which the media did not question, that Jews from Gush Katif were preparing to leave, and there was a general feeling of depression in the anti-expulsion camp.
But the winds have changed. First of all, opponents to the plan are holding a massive rally in the western Negev, with a march to Gush Katif. Indications are that more than 100,000 people, and possibly many more, will participate in the peaceful rally.
Secondly, the primitive and barbaric behavior of the police finally has been exposed to the general public. Arutz-7 readers two weeks ago saw the video of a policeman beating a young man who tried to block a road in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv. The film clearly shows several policemen stuffing their fingers into the man's nostrils and mouth, leaving him a bleeding pulp.
The other media, of course, ignored it - until Tuesday. The film was shown at a Knesset Law Committee hearing, prompting Chairman Michael Eitan to demand a report from the police within 48 hours. Suddenly, the police said such brutality was unacceptable and would not be permitted.
Thirdly, and unfortunately, was Tuesday's terrorist attack in Netanya, killing four people, and the premature car bomb explosion that killed an Arab terrorist who was on his way to blow up more Jews.
The mood of the pubic is swinging back against the expulsion. The man on the street does not like police brutality, which presents Israel like a country from the Bolshevik era.
The man on the street does not like to see the army and police staring down 100,000 law-abiding people from all over the country who will express the feelings of a majority. The man on the street cannot be fooled all the time. The public is learning very quickly that the division in the country is not between Judea, Samaria, Gaza and the rest of the country. They know very well that Israelis from kibbutzim, from Haifa, from Tel Aviv and from every nook and cranny, as well as from Judea, Samaria and Gaza, are all for one and one for all.
Finally, the media can no longer hide the fact that running away from Gaza is going to be the catalyst for disaster, and that Tel Aviv is next in line after Gush Katif and northern Samaria.
If the public opposition to the expulsion plan gains momentum, we can count on Sharon to prove his weakness and jump to the other side.
All it takes is a strong wind.