Ariel Sharon's election as Israel's prime minister closes the door to a peace accord, destroys the current process of negotiations and puts the Arab World at the crossroads.
Once again, when the hard choices for peace have had to be made, it was Israel that has rejected peace and opted for what many Israelis see as the fruits of military confrontation and an atmosphere of violence and war.
Israelis, who are good at managing the media, have convinced the world they want peace. The problem is, they just don't believe they have to pay anything for it. And, to be honest, the election of Ariel Sharon as their new leader in the face of the struggling peace process, puts special emphasis on the view that the Israelis are just downright mean.
Of course, Israel can live with the current situation. Although some Israelis are dying, they are not dying nearly as fast as the Palestinians who are the victims of an intentionally brutal policy of occupation intended to disengage them from their land, land that Israelis covet and intend to conquer.
But the Arab World cannot. In fact, the election of Ariel Sharon puts an Israeli knife in the moderate Arab position that a just and fair peace is attainable, and taunts the Arab World to knock the chip off the Israeli shoulder.
How would Israel react if the tables were turned? And, would the United States be any different?
One need only examine the official Israeli and American policies toward Austria during the leadership of Kurt Waldheim, who was alleged but never charged or convicted with serving as having played a significant role in developing and implementing Nazi policies. Waldheim served as a Nazi soldier and disputed charges he was involved in the Nazi campaign to eradicate Judaism.
Waldheim's election was met with righteous indignation from Israelis and the United States, and during his term in office, both countries refused to maintain any diplomatic ties.
So why should the Arab countries, especially Jordan and Egypt, be any different? Why should they continue to honor the now worthless peace accords they signed with Israel?
Without question, Egypt and Jordan have a moral responsibility to suspend their peace agreements with Israel in protest, eject any and all Israeli officials and representatives from their countries, and reunite with Arab leaders who can counter Israel's actions with a tough stand of their own.
Sharon is better known as the butcher of Beirut, and is largely held responsible for Israeli policies which allowed right-wing Lebanese militias to enter two Palestinian refugee camps, Sabra and Shatilla, in the 1980s, where they massacred thousands of unarmed civilian refugees.
He has openly called for the murder of Yasir Arafat, the leader of the Palestinians and up until now a partner with Israeli in the difficult peace negotiation process. He has openly called for increased Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the annexation and de-Arabization of Jerusalem. Keep in mind that these Jewish settlements are settlements set up exclusively for Jews and prohibit Christians and Muslims from living in them, and they are often built on lands owned by Arabs who are evicted by forced, or whose land is simply stolen by military force.
Sharon is often compared to Menachem Begin, the former terrorist who brought violence, kidnapping and terrorism to the Middle East during his vicious campaign against the British and Arabs during the Palestine Mandate in the 1930s and 1940s. Begin became an Israeli Prime Minister, the founder of the Likud Party which Sharon now leads.
Israeli apologists, especially in the American and Western media where they flourish unchallenged and unrestrained, continue to argue that it was Begin who first brought the concept of peace to the Middle East. They note that it will take someone tough like Ariel Sharon to reach a real peace with the Palestinians, rather than a weak leader like Ehud Barak, whom he defeated Tuesday.
But the facts are often blurred in this pro-Israeli media frenzy. History is rewritten, even though it is often already distorted by the anti-Arab press in the West. The real fact is that it was Egypt's Anwar Sadat who naively believed that Menachem Begin's word could be trusted.
Sadat signed an incomplete peace accord with Israel that was to have served as the foundation for a regional peace. It was never intended by Sadat or his successors as the final peace between Egypt and Israel.
Yet Begin was cunning. He quickly abandoned the Egyptian-Israeli peace provisions that called for talks to begin with the Palestinians.
It was only until Yitzhak Rabin came to power and agreed to talk with the Palestinians, at American prodding, that serious peace talks with the Palestinians had begun.
Ariel Sharon will not bring peace to Israel. He will bring war. Sharon's selfish policies were most evident during his fateful visit to the Haram Al-Sharif in September, surrounded by 3,000 heavily armed Israeli soldiers, to declare that the Arabs have no right to this religious site, which is one of the holiest religious sites to Muslims around the world.
In a sense, Sharon's election is an inadvertently compassionate form of euthanasia to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and an injection of reality to the rest of the Arab World.
His election elevates the role of the Arab rejectionists, who have refused to the point of ideology and religious belief to accept any compromise with Israel, and have made moderate Arabs like Arafat and others who accepted compromise as the only alternative, as enemies, too.
The peace process is dead in the Middle East. Moderation has been murdered. And extremism reigns supreme.
I don't blame the Israelis for being greedy. They want our land. They know the Arabs are disunited. They know the Arabs love to scream and yell and dance in their own emotional hallucinations. In the end, the Israelis will achieve their goal of erasing the Palestinian presence in what's left of Palestine and the Arabs will sit around and complain.
Israeli policy has always been just the opposite of Palestinian and Arab policy: They would take every inch to get the mile, while the Arabs and Palestinians have demand everything to get nothing.
So let's sit back and turn the leadership now to those in our community who have been dying to get here. Let them demand Israel's destruction. Let's see how far they get.
Ray Hanania is a Palestinian American writer based in Chicago. His columns are archived on the web at www.hanania.com.
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