“Homicidal”, “war criminal”, “terrorist”, “commander-in-chief of a death squad”: none of these words will be found in the hagiographic forums spread by the Atlantist press after the brain haemorrhage suffered by Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Regrettably, this is not amazing to us. We have already commented in this section how Sharon was presented as a “man of peace” after the retreat from Gaza, though his only purpose, as pinpointed, was to smooth the way for keeping the illegal occupation of the vast West Bank territories. Later, as a result of his controversy with most extremist leaders who insisted on the dream of a Great Israel, Ariel Sharon was presented as a “centrist”.
All along his military and then political career, Sharon was guilty (directly or indirectly) of abuse and mass murder of the Arab populations: civilians more often than not. He breached the international law and rode roughshod over UN resolutions by stripping whole populations of any hope for justice. However, such crimes are hardly mentioned in the Atlantist press which would rather depict him as a nationalist turned into a pragmatic in his old age, who contributed to peace by organizing the retreat from Gaza. No daily recalls that after this retreat, the air force and heavy artillery are busy at bombing Palestinian cities. With this, reporters, editorialists and experts show a limitless scorn for the Arabs.

Here is the holy formula: “right at the moment we are writing these lines, Ariel Sharon is at death’s doors”, but the writers of these obituaries have not waited for an end to comment in past tense, though in glowing terms, on General Sharon’s political actions.
The debate in the atlantist press brings optimistic hagiographers face to face with pessimistic ones. They keep on repeating common things over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Sharon made a change and became a man of peace; the withdrawal from Gaza was an important step towards peace undertaken by a brave man; the Arabs did not avail themselves of the opportunity of achieving peace. However, for some reporters, the political strategy followed by the PM will not survive, while for the rest the project is going smoothly.

In The Independent, former British conservative Foreign Minister Malcolm Rifkind mourns Ariel Sharon’s passing – an event he compares with the murder of Yitzhak Rabin. Paradoxically, Rifkind makes no effort to hide the abuses committed by the individual whose disappearance he grieves for. He remembers the invasion of Lebanon, the massacre of Sabra and Chatilla, the escalation of colonization and the provocation of Al-Aqsa. Nevertheless, Rifkind thinks that Sharon was the only one capable of making Israelis accept the existence of a Palestinian State.
Neo-con psychiatrist and editorialist – a recent promoter of the use of torture in the “war on terror” – Charles Krauthammer regrets in the Washington Post Ariel Sharon’s departure from political life. In Krauthammer’s opinion, we are facing the worst disaster shaking Israel for the past 60 years. Damn! Taking the personification of Israel’s politics to the limits, he states that it will be really hard for Kadima – the party founded by Israel’s Prime Minister – to go on with Ariel Sharon’s “brilliant” policy.
Theoretically away from Mr. Krauthammer’s opinion and guidance, rabbi Michael Lerner – editor-in-chief of the leftist US Jewish magazine Tikkun Magazine and chairman of the Jewish peace association Rabbis for Peace – shares, in the name of peace, the same reasoning with the neo-con editorialist. In the dailies The Age (Australia) and The Berkeley Daily Planet (USA), Lerner says he has prayed for the recovery of Ariel Sharon so that Sharon can continue his political struggle. He notes that for a long time he opposed the Prime Minister but thinks, against all odds, that the latter is currently one of the few men able to bring peace back to the Middle East.

Practically sharing the same vision of Sharon and his politics, some analysts think that the policy adopted by Sharon will continue to be applied after his death or retirement.
Yoel Marcus – the editorialist of Ha’aretz (Israel’s leftwing reference daily) – hails “Israel’s Charles de Gaulle” – the man elected by the extreme right that organized the retreat from Gaza. He regrets that Palestinians had not taken the “chance” given to them, but states, going even further in the cultural logic of the so-called absence of a counterpart for peace, that “the Arabs will always be the Arabs”. Marcus deplores the loss of the “1948 Giant”, though he thinks that Kadima is the fruit of a political time and not of a man, and that Sharon’s policy won’t be left out.
The director of the Centre Global Research in International Affairs Barry Rubin agreed with the above in a forum spread by Project Syndicate, which has only been published by the Korea Herald so far. Loyal to the opinion that he thought wise to hold when Kadima was created, he thinks that this party is the image of a new consensus within the Israeli society and should therefore win the next elections. Rubin praises the PM’s actions and thinks that Sharon’s party will be able to go on without him.

While predominantly championed by the Western press, the positive representation of Israel’s PM has been tinted by some courageous and quite isolated writers.
This way, Ha’aretz’s leftwing editorialist Gideon Levy issued an opinion contrary to that of his colleague Yoel Marcus. According to Levy, Sharon’s political balance in relation to Israel is globally negative. He notes how the PM implemented the colonization of the occupied territories, launched the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and participated in the strengthening of Hamas. For Levy, the retreat from Gaza is an act of contrition from the previous policy, but he stresses that Hamas continued to take advantage of Ariel Sharon’s policy and that, right now, tensions with Iran have amounted to paroxysm. So, while Levy obviously questions Sharon’s policy, he only does it from the point of view of Israel’s interests. There seems to be no room for the Arab viewpoint in the “Western” press.
Former Palestinian Authority Minister and negotiator of the Geneva’s initiative Yasser Abed Rabbo is one among a few Arab leaders who could provide an opinion on the subject in an interview granted to Le Monde. And even there, he practically apologized for not joining the chorus of hired mourners and tried to note why the Palestinians did not realize the “change” in the twilight of Ariel Sharon’s career. Rabbo mentioned the raid of Qibya, the massacre of Sabra and Chatilla and the Jenin operation – all elements that explain why, contrary to the Western opinion, Ariel Sharon’s disappearance is not that of a man of peace. However, Rabbo hopes, though somehow skeptically, that Sharon’s successor will have a different behaviour and that Israel’s political life will change after the death of its patriarch as happened with the Palestinian Authority.

Let’s not forget that Ariel Sharon started his career in the terrorist organization Haganah. In the early 1950’s, he ran a death squad – Unit 101 – which killed Arab civilians to force their families to leave their land. Heading that squad, he massacred the whole Jordanian population of Qibya. Made a general and by virtue of his heroic actions during the Six-Day War, he invaded Lebanon with his units on his own initiative and disobeying the general staff orders. Once in Beirut, he surrounded the camps of Palestinian refugees from Sabra and Chatilla and began to exterminate them. Because of an insufficient number of men, he entrusted mercenary Elie Hokeiba’s Christian militias with the task of finishing the job. Tried for war crimes by an Israeli court, Sharon was banned from taking up any ministerial post. At the outset of the 21st century, he launched new provocations which brought about a second Intifada. It was then found out that the decision banning him from being Minister did not keep him from being PM. Sharon promised to suppress the Intifada that he himself had caused to rise up and was elected PM. He broke then with the supporters of the Great Israel and arranged a new deployment of his troops so that as many territories as possible were occupied while making his defence operational. Evading the international community, Sharon built a wall to change the borders unilaterally, then withdrew the settlers and his troops behind it and permanently got a part of the Palestinian territories annexed. Sharon was simultaneously involved in a political clean-up operation which aimed at killing Yasser Arafat and other leaders, censuring the most representative Palestinian candidatures, arranging the Palestinian elections to elect Mahmud Abbas by default, and eventually creating Kadima.

If we are searching for a virulent criticism of the PM’s actions in “the West”, we should then refer to the most radical Zionist movements.
Fundamentalist reverend and leader of the Christian Coalition Pat Robertson used his program at the Christian Broadcasting Corporation to explain the “reasons” of the brain haemorrhage suffered by Israel’s PM. According to Robertson, Ariel Sharon (who is already 77) is the victim of a divine revenge for having organized the retreat from Gaza. Mr. Robertson is a member of a Christian Zionist trend for which the creation of Israel in 1948 is a signal that the “end of time” is close. A literal reader of the Bible, he thinks that once the Jerusalem Temple is rebuilt on the ruins of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jesus Christ will return to establish his kingdom, destroy the Muslims and liberals and convert the Jews. In the past, Robertson held the “liberals” responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks, presented as a divine punishment, and requested the murder of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez – accused of being a “communist”.
This opinion could make us laugh hadn’t reverend Robertson so many followers, mainly among the members of the US Republican Party.