# 8 – Friedman & Sharon by Stephen Pohlmann - Ourboox.com
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# 8 – Friedman & Sharon

Helping others to understand Israel - and Israelis to understand others...
  • Joined Sep 2016
  • Published Books 409
1

September 26, 2002

I’m writing so soon again after reading an article by Thomas L. Friedman in today’s IHT (from the NY Times, with whom Friedman is a leading correspondent).

I want to scan the page and attach it with this e-mail. But I’m on a flight, so shall just paraphrase it now – might still scan and send it when I get home in 2 weeks or so.

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I got a couple of comments these last few days, giving the opinion that I am too left-leaning in my ‘politics’. Well, because of the circumstances in Israel, we not only have opinions stretching from extreme left (“We support the Palestinians – we are against the existence of the State of Israel”) to extreme right (“Transfer the Palestinians – build a wall”), but a large number of opinions that fluctuate almost daily.

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The aftermath of suicide bombs will cause such mood changes; also the happiness of evening parties, sitting in the Succah (a form of tent erected in every 2nd garden and park during the current Feast of Succoth). Then there is the daily threat of war against Iraq and ‘that man’s’ retaliation against Israel (my daughter has a dog which is, currently at least, the most important thing in her life. Her current worry is how to ensure the dog’s safety in the event of a chemical attack from Iraq. It’s no joke! And there is the elation that surfaces after Maccabi Haifa wins not only or the first time ever by an Israeli football team in the European Champions’ League, but 3-0 against Olympiakos in Greek-oriented Cyprus.

How can we be right-wing after such positive excitement.

4

So, what does Friedman write? The headline: Is Sharon Leading Israel to a Dead End?. The subtitle: Wrecking Peace Hopes.

On the day after 9/11, Friedman asked a security expert at the Israeli Defence Ministry ‘what Israel had learned from dealing with suicide bombers that might help America…. The only people who can effectively stop suicide bombers are those in the community where they come from’.

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Friedman stresses his sympathy for Israel’s plight today – ‘no society… has ever been exposed to what Israel has over the last 2 years’. In addition to the attacks on society, it is compounded by anti-Semitic attacks in Europe, including calls for the severing of ties with Israeli universities when Israel retaliates. ‘That is enough to make any civilised society crazy’.

6

As a result of President Bush’s call for Palestinians to ‘dump’ Arafat and Sharon’s crackdown on them to prove that the intifada will not pay, Israel & the US had begun to ‘sow the first seeds of internal Palestinian reform’. Some of their leaders & commentators have criticised Arafat’s turning down of the Clinton plan for a Palestinian state.

Legislators have voted no confidence in Arafat’s cabinet and are keen on alternatives. Moderate Palestinian voices are openly criticising the suicide killers.

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This is all bad news for the extremist groups and their sponsors in Iran & Iraq. (So odd, that they should be bedfellows). Their reaction is more attacks; more extremism. Sharon’s reaction is more pressure on Arafat; more isolation. Yet it is bringing him more support and sympathy; a typically human response.

(Remember Waldheim: the Austrians were no great lovers of the man, and certainly did not want his skeletons to come out of the closet. But once they did, bringing with them enormous criticism from the outside world, they rallied around him defiantly).

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One wonders whether Sharon’s ulterior motive is the total surrender of the Palestinians; perhaps even their transfer to Jordan. (Oh why didn’t Arafat have the guts to work with ANY of Sharon’s predecessors – admittedly, when he did get ‘closer’ to one, that great man was assassinated by the extremist right in his own country).

‘If that is where Sharon is going, the effort will come to tears, and the Bush team, if goes along for the ride, will be very sorry. Always remember, the leading Hebrew biography of Sharon is titled “He Doesn’t Stop at Red Lights”’.

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So – have you had the patience to read all this? We need leaders with 2 important qualities:

  1. To have the guts to do the right thing (and risk the consequences, like Sadat and Rabin)

  2. To realise that, at the end of the day, it’s going to be talking, not violence, that will decide, and that violence along the way only continues to postpone those talks.

That’s my lefty opinion. Tomorrow, I may swing to the right. If the next bomb is any closer than some of the last, then I cannot be blamed for my opinion change. So let’s stop now – before the next bomb – from either side.

Stephen

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