Sharon and the Myth of the Peacemakers

Category: Life & Society, Middle East Views: 1799

History is already remembering a handful of Israeli Prime Ministers as well intending peacemakers. 

Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, although affiliated with terrorism in his early years, then bloody wars in later years, was made a peacemaker when he struck a deal with former Egyptian President Anwar Sadddat, virtually ending hostilities between both countries, while sidelining the Palestinian question altogether.

History has also shown its soft side depicting the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, another Israeli Noble Peace Prize recipient, for his role in the signing of the Oslo agreement of 1993, in Norway. Interestingly, both Israelis and Palestinians see the document as an infamous one. Rabin's own violent history was almost completely scrapped the moment he signed his name, endorsing the agreement on the White House lawn.

Ehud Barak, also relatively young and still vibrant, was spared by history from any blame. After all, the retired General and former Prime Minister's name shall also be synonymous to the term "generous offer", allegedly offered to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat at Camp David in July 2000. Although Barak's offer largely failed to address the important topics regarded by Palestinians as fundamental, he remains nonetheless, a "peacemaker".

For Palestinians, the signing of a document resolves nothing, their own reading of history taught them such a lesson.

On one hand, Begin's association with the ethnic cleansing of over a million Palestinians, and a list of bloody massacres, from Palestine to Lebanon, were greater witnesses to Begin's true merit than the signing at Camp David. The late 1970's agreement, like Oslo and Camp David 2, satisfied little of their long held aspirations for freedom, the right of return and a sovereign homeland.

Rabin is also remembered by thousands of Palestinian men and by their families. The former Israeli Defense Minister was the one who initiated the "broken bones" policy during the first Palestinian uprising, which started in 1987. Such a legacy was overlooked after his signing of the Oslo accords, and following his assassination by an Israeli terrorist. But the cheers that followed the historic signing of Oslo on the White House lawn could never be loud enough to cover the screams of thousands of men and children whose hands and legs were broken, because the Israeli economy couldn't handle their uprising and quest for freedom. 

There is history, and there is Palestinian history. The first refers to how Israel or pro Israeli pundits wish to see history written, joined by the collective efforts of the media. The second refers to how Palestinians choose to remember their own plight and those who contributed to their misery.

Palestinians are not selective in their memory as it may seem, and are indeed forgiving. After all, the day Oslo was signed Palestinians marched in every town, village and refugee camp. In Gaza, they carried olive branches and handed them to Israeli soldiers, while the soldiers were in the process of subjecting the Palestinians to a brutal occupation.

History can be of a great value if it is depicted accurately. Such remembrance is due now more than any time in the past, for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has uttered a word, which some have already described as "historic". Sharon referred to the Israeli occupation of the occupied Palestinian territories as "occupation" during the debate that preceded the approval of the Road Map peace initiative late May. For a right wing extremist, we are told, such a word was taboo, and might signal a fundamental shift in the Israeli government's policies toward the Palestinians.

I am still not clear how Sharon's admission will change the political discourse governing the Middle East's most durable conflict. What seems clear to me, however, is the fact that Israeli leaders, whether "peacemakers" or "right wing extremists" have excelled in manipulating certain terminology to fit their own political agenda, but without associating any tangible meaning they become irrelevant. Various Israeli leaders spoke openly about a Palestinian state, while actively slicing up the potential state into Bantustans, separated by fortified settlements and barbed wire. Israeli officials are actively using the term "peace", but considering the number of Palestinians and Israelis killed demonstrates the lack of substance to such an assertion.

Sharon's first day in office was a day where he spoke of a Palestinian state, but if we recall such statements, such a state fails to include more than 42 percent of the size of West Bank and Gaza, a state crowded with illegal Jewish settlements, bypass roads, Israeli military zones, without its refugees, without Jerusalem, and without real territorial integrity.

The chances are that Sharon's words were simply a political maneuver, rather than a genuine change of heart. By uttering the word, "occupation", Sharon might have enlisted himself into the category of "peacemakers".

On the "historic" day when Sharon used the word "occupation", Israeli tanks attacked the West Bank town of Tulkarm and killed a Palestinian boy. Two children were also wounded in the Israeli attack, one was seven and the other nine. Sharon's word made no difference to the families of the children killed and wounded, and most likely to millions of Palestinians, who still regard Sharon as a violent leader who holds no respect for their long denied rights. Looking back at their experiences with Begin, Rabin, Barak and Sharon himself, Palestinians already know: expressions of peace that are soaked in blood just don't count.

Ramzy Baroud is the editor-in-chief of the Palestine Chronicle, and the editor of the anthology "Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion", available at .

  Category: Life & Society, Middle East
Views: 1799
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Older Comments:
This is more of the same repetitive "victimization" nonsense.
In characterizing Israeli violence towards the Palestinians,as usual, you simply neglect to mention Palestinian violence which preceded it.Neither side is immune to charges of violence against the other.
If you view the efforts towards peace of Rabin and Barak as myths,then only someone who agrees with all the demands of the Palestinians will satisfy your requisites for an Israeli peacemaker.Therefore, what you want is not negotiation, but complete capitulation.
The interests of the Palestinian people would be better served by propping up their own "peacemakers" like Sari Nusseibah,and (apparently) Abu Mazen,instead of seeking comfort in the role of the victim.

I am always impressed by Mr. Baropud's eloquence and gift with language. His arguem,ent are always seemingly convincing till you realize that never are the Arabs responswible for anything--sucide bomgings, killing of Israeli children and Arab kids simply dismissed as "fighting the occupieres." Alas, the situation continues to deteriorate in both Israel and in the West Bank and Gaza. The future is filled with the teaching of hate in Arab schools, and in Israel, a nation has increasingly become a garrison state.
When will Mr. B push for peace and and end to terror rather than propelling militancy as an answer? Soon, I believe, there will be either civil war among the Arabs--Abbas and his notions of peace and the terror forces. And this will lresult in a bolstering of Sharon's position and more aid from the US since the Road will be closed once and for all.

Asslmkm. brother Abdur Razzaq and King, I agree with you two. These people remind me of the Qur'an 6:7-8 "If We had sent unto thee a written (message) on parchment, so that they could touch it with their hands, the Unbelievers would have been sure to say: "This is nothing but obvious magic!They say: 'Why is not an angel sent down to him?' If we did send down an angel, the matter would be settled at once, and no respite would be granted them." I do make du'aa for those who are SINCERE in searching for the truth. Wassalam.

I dont know Abdur Razzaq, I think trolls need to be put n their every place once in a while, since the webmaster has not taken appropriate measures against them.
I believe most of them are trying extra hard pretending to be look at some of the message boards at Yahoo and "patriotic" forums reveal the deep ingrained mental pathology of these frothing apologists for empire.
Take "alain jean-mairet" for instance, aka "john norman" a typical example of an evasive liar citing nothing but his own ignorance and prejudice when posting.
Same old verbose know-nothings peddling junk history trying to appear rational and intelligent. As Michael Moore recently said " we've all got to keep our BS radar aimed high."

Why do we continue to rgue with people who come to this site and clearly do not wish to learn anything? I got caught up in verbal jousting with Sanjeev and M. Hollifield and it did mothing! Let us stop wasting our time in useless debates and just make du'aa for these individuals. If they persist in their kufr - then let Allah give them what they deserve.

The divisions between Israel and Palestine are deep and broad. Such were the divisions between Germany and France for 100 years. Neither Palestine nor Israel is without guilt. It's time to put the past behind, time to bury the hatchet. Palestine need new leaders, men who are committed to creating a new prosperous life for their country, and who realize that terrorism works against those goals not for them. France and Germany buried the hatchet and went on to prosper, it's time for Palestine and Israel to do the same.

People seem to accept as evidence that war is bad, and that anyone does have a right to get some land, and freedom, and security; and that if someone comes and steals their goods, some "power" should intervene and give them justice.

But it is no evidence at all. All present states, ethnics are the results of wars. Big countries have won big wars, defeated many enemies. It always was so (and it is the very least to say that religions didn't help much to counter that state of fact). Today, we feel anyhow that it would, or should be possible otherwise. Nations are discussing more, many people have understood, more or less clearly, that raw power is not a good sign of superiority, after all, and that other values would do a better job leading the human communities. But this shift requires intelligence. It requires some vision that goes beyond the old concept of territory, of frontiers defined by rights coming from the past (i.e. the law of the war).

In that light, we see that Palestinians should show themselves much more intelligent than they are now. For either they bet on violence, on war, and then they must accept their evident defeat, and surrender without condition to Israel. Or they bet on new agreements based on a vision superior to that inspired by violence. And they behave accordingly, that is without hatred and organized terrorism.

By the way, did Muhammad practice or support terrorism? If no, Palestinians (and all) terrorists are bad Muslims. If yes, all good Muslims are terrorists.

Myth of the Peacemakers, this will create a rough road ahead. If USA wants to be the world police they must deal with justice and fairness. They asked arab states to stop funding the resistance groups such as Hammas and Hezbullah, then they also should stop funding the terrorist state Israel lead by Sharon.

chesley your comments demonstrate clearly what it means to be a terrorist. Why should Palestinians give up their right to return ? Because you stole whats theirs ? Typical Zionist ranting. No peace can be acheived with your lot.
Whats truly abominable is that a Jew born in Brooklyn is given Israeli citizenship provided proof is given that he's a jew.
As for being thrown into the sea, thats an old myth, Arabs long ago accepted your right to exist. You on the other hand have NEVER given up the concept of "Eretz Israel." No wonder Arabs dont trust your kind, and understandably so. You should stay in the countries of your origin as good upstanding citizens, assuming you're capable of living in peace with anybody.

I congratulate you for your well-written article. It offers an accurate picture of the reality of what has been happening on both sides since the creation of the state of Israel. Obviously, both the Palestinians and the Israelis have suffered unnecessarily. I am an adult now and I have never ceased hearing or watching horror events since I was a child. I have always grappled with the notion of this heinous hate that has always existed and I have never known the reason why two religious and ethnically close peoples would go to this length to keep decimating one another. Where is God in all their endeavors to do good and be merciful as he prescribes for all nations, tribes and peoples? The Israelis claim that they are believers, and yet they have deprived the Palestinians, young and old, of their very existence. The Palestinians, on the other hand, have retaliated by a war of attrition against the innocent in most instances. I am a Muslim who is far away from the zone of conflict and I have been affected in every way all my life and I am tired of it as millions out there are. We need from all the Palestinians and the Israelis to spare us any more aches and pains because our lives are ravaged. This is their golden opportunity to reconcile and move on. We are dead tired of the trickery and deceit on both sides. For the sake of the Almighty, they are obligated to do it now, not later. God will hold all those responsible for the mockery they have made out of his scriptures whether in the Torah or the Koran. Enough is enough. Violence and slaughter should not be part of the lexicon of the human dictionary.

Mr. Baroud is an eloquent writer. Your writting portrays truth in the history of Palestine conflict.

Israel with the support of U.S.A. has become so powerful and erogant that Palestine combined with all Arab nations would not be able to put a dent to Israel.

But, Allah is working differently. Palestinian suffering will end one day. I do not know when that will come but, it will come.
Empires have come and gone. One time considered to be indistructible nation have been wiped out from the face of earth.

I simpathise with Palestinian people. My prayers are with them. My Allah bring to them tidings of rejoice, happiness and good health. Amen.

Mr. Baroud, all your articles are note worthy. If this and other articles can be publish in American news papers and magazines, it can bring tremedous positive results. Not only that but majority of Americans are ignorant about the world history in general and middle east history in particular. History of middle east is always distorted by American media to American public.

Islamicity, you are also doing a great work in promoting peace, justice and education.

All the best to Mr. Baroud and Islamicity.


The Palestinians have no one but themselves to blame for their current plight. Until they explicitly renounce the so-called "right" of return, there is nothing to negotiate. Their dreams for freedom, and a homeland of there own will always founder on this rock.

Throughout history there have always been winners and losers in conflicts. The Palestinians lost in 1967, and must pay a forfeit, Jerusalem. They lost in 1948, and must pay a forfeit, Israel.

they can never become winners by a policy of murder. If they wish to kick Israel into the sea, they must first form an army capable of doing that. The first step is getting some land to call their own.

I feelthat the time has come or the Jews to give back to the Palastinien what is theirs. The State of Israel was built on terror and this will remain always as long as the Jews are in Falastin. Of course there are peaceful ways to eliminate the problem, but, it can't be a one sided procedure which it has been to date. The Palastinien people have agreed to so much and have received nothing but a slap in the face and death in every family. The world should open it eyes and with the world I mean the people, peace loving people.

Mr. Baroud delivers as usual. Its clear to anyone who has studied the history of the region over the last century that the Israeli's will NEVER accept peace, since their final aim is to establish "eretz Israel" covering entire nations well beyond the boundaries of Palestine. Israel has always been an expansionist nation without a constitution or defined borders, its politicians terrorists in their own right. Only a tiny minority of Israeli's are interested in a real and lasting peace, but they arent in power.
Remember the Saudi peace plan ? A complete blanket Arab recognition of Israel in exchange for it to return to its pre-1967 borders. It was vehemently rejected. The current "road map" will be treated the same.
Why have Israeli's and their American PR firms been working hard to derail this latest attempt despite it being overwhelmingly in Israel's favor ? Simple, they don't want peace and have no intention of implementing it. The Evangellical lunatics in the US dont want peace, as this would delay their mythical "Armageddon" war, meaning their "rapture" would be put on hold.
If anything, tourism minister Benny Elon's visit to the US a few weeks ago made it clear what Israel's true intentions are.