Sharon was a killer, not a hero

Tuesday, January 14, 2014
A civil defense worker inspects a child’s body among victims at of the September 1982 massacre at Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut.

The tributes and praise from various world leaders, including US President Barack Obama and Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, for Israeli war criminal Ariel Sharon who died on January 11, are vile but sadly predictable.

But probably the most distasteful of all comes from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who declared himself “saddened by the death of Ariel Sharon”.

A UN insider with links to the Department of Political Affairs in New York -- who asked not to be named in order to speak freely about the matter -- told me that Ban’s statement “brings the UN’s obsequiousness towards Israel to a new high and the UN’s standing in the Middle East to a new low”.

Ban offered his “condolences to the bereaved family and to the Government and people of Israel”. Ban called Sharon “a hero to his people, first as a soldier and then a statesman”.

Finally, says Ban, “Prime Minister Sharon will be remembered for his political courage and determination to carry through with the painful and historic decision to withdraw Israeli settlers and troops from the Gaza Strip”.

Re-writing history

Ban does not acknowledge that Sharon’s “disengagement” aimed at isolating Gaza for “demographic” reasons and inaugurated a crushing siege that continues relentlessly.

But most striking, he does not acknowledge that Sharon will be most remembered by Palestinians, Lebanese and indeed quite a few Israelis, as the architect of Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Tens of thousands of people were slaughtered.

He will be remembered by the survivors for the massacres at Qibya in October 1953, at Sabra and Shatila in 1982, and at Jenin in 2002.

To me, Ban’s tribute to Sharon is the most jarring because in many minds the United Nations is still supposed to stand for the post-World War II ideal of protecting the innocent against the violence of states and statesmen.

Through the complicity of states, Sharon escaped justice.

The UN insider added that the statement’s “deliberate lack of historical awareness yet again illustrates the extent to which UN ‘job seekers’ such as UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry, whose office signed off on it, have bought into the Zionist narrative”.

'Ill-judged'

My UN contact adds: “Palestinians, particularly those who suffered because of Sharon’s war crimes, deserve an apology, though Ban’s silence would have sufficed. Outside Israel Sharon is a war criminal, inside he is a hero.

“It would have been better for Ban’s credibility and his effectiveness as an ‘honest broker’ in the Middle East, had he chosen not to illustrate to the world in this ill-judged statement where he stood.”

I’m not sure I agree Ban’s silence would have been preferable. At least now Ban is shorn of the mask of neutrality and there can be no doubt that he stands in full, enthusiastic complicity with Israel’s crimes against humanity.

We live in times with few moral moorings, where one day an utter mediocrity like Ban can praise Nelson Mandela, and a few weeks later call Ariel Sharon, an unrepentant mass-murder, a “hero”.

[Reprinted from Electronic Intifada. Ali Abunimah is a co-founder of Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, forthcoming from Haymarket Books in March.]


From GLW issue 993