Ariel Sharon: Death of a Butcher
The death on 11th January of former Israeli PM, Ariel Sharon will have little practical effect on the world. He had been in a coma for eight years since a stroke in 2006. But it does have some symbolic significance.
Just as Nelson Mandela represented for hundreds of millions of people the struggle for equality and freedom, so Ariel Sharon very much represented the opposite. He expressed, perhaps more than any other single individual, the brutality of Zionism and its racist oppression of the Palestinian people. The fact that Obama paid tribute to them both tells you a lot about Obama.
When the State of Israel was established in 1948 the Haganah became part of the Israeli Defense force and Sharon rose rapidly through the ranks becoming an ‘outstanding’ Israeli military commander ie exceptionally good at killing Palestinians and Arabs. In the 50s he headed Unit 101, a paratroop battalion, responsible for reprisals against Palestinian resistance fighters, which carried out various massacres.
On the strength of his military career he became a leading right wing politician with the Likud Party and served as Minister of Defense during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, which claimed 20.000 lives. He built up his career on the basis of championing (illegal) Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands and served as Prime Minister from 2001 -2006. Shortly before his stroke in 2006 he formed his own Zionist Party, Kadima.
However, of all his many crimes there was one which stands out and which will be forever associated with his name, branding him with infamy. This is the terrible massacre of Palestinian men, women and children at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in the Lebanon in 1982.
Over three thousand civilians were slaughtered in two days in the most brutal fashion. The actual killing was done by Lebanese Christian militia but the Israeli Defense Force, under Sharon’s command, assisted the whole operation surrounding the camps to prevent the Palestinians escaping.
In 1983, a UN commission, chaired by Sean Macbride, found Israel including, and especially, Ariel Sharon, directly responsible. Sharon was obliged to temporarily stand down but in the racist state of Israel this atrocity did his political career no harm.
Perhaps the best way socialists can mark his death is with the cry that ‘In our thousands and our millions, we are all Palestinians!’.