Now that Sharon has died, we are already being bombarded with media coverage about what a “strong” leader Ariel Sharon was, and how led Israel in an “uncompromising” fashion.
George W. Bush had once famously called Sharon “a man of peace” (something not even Sharon probably believed about himself), and David Cameron’s statement on the death of Sharon naturally fell back on the cliche of “he took brave and controversial decisions in pursuit of peace.”
Don’t fall for the obfuscation.
Sharon was not a strong leader.
To call Sharon strong is to fundamentally misunderstand what real strength is, and what it is not.
We are called to not just speak truth to power, we are called to speak truth against power when that power is separated from love and concern for fellow human beings.
Sharon made the lives of Palestinians a living hell.
Sharon derailed the peace process.
Sharon assured the continued slide of Israel from a utopian dream down towards becoming an occupying force.
Occupying people, destroying homes, participating in massacres in Shatila and Sabra (Sharon, 1982) are not the sign of “strength.” These are the marks of brutality. That is why Sharon is called the “Butcher of Beirut.”
Brutality and strength must never be confused. Strength is to stand in the midst of a storm, and connect the welfare and wellbeing of your own people to the welfare and wellbeing of others, and insist that dignity is not a zero-sum game.
To remedy the fictitious accounts commemorating Sharon, look at these four articles:
1) “Ariel Sharon: Enemy of the peace”
In a dispassionate tone, this essay marks how Sharon worked to make the peace process an impossibility. It quotes Sharon’s aids as stating:
“The significance of our disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process. It supplies the formaldehyde necessary so there is no political process with Palestinians… When you freeze the process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. Effectively, this whole package called a Palestinian state, with all it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda.”
For all those who wonder where the Palestinian peace partners are, we have to also be willing to ask why we glorify Israeli leaders like Sharon who have made peace (and a viable Palestinian state) an impossibility over the last few decades.
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