More bully than soldier, Israeli’s Ariel Sharon, nicknamed both “the butcher” for slaughtering Palestinians and “the bulldozer” for destroying their homes, died Jan. 11 after spending the last eight years in a coma.
Were there not so many imperialist politicians and media describing Sharon as a “peacemaker” and thus distorting his life story, we would be tempted to write nothing about him. His role in history deserves little recognition, none of it positive. Or perhaps it deserves only the same recognition given Lt. Col. George Custer, who after a life of massacring Native people led his marauding troops into a fatal ambush at Little Bighorn, Mont. (See, “Custer Had It Coming,” Mahtowin. New York: World View Forum, 1989)
A photo in the New York Times online shows British former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the butcher’s memorial service. This trio of war criminals came to praise Sharon and finally bury him. After all, he was one of their own.
A brief history of his actions will suffice. As soldier, defense minister and prime minister, Sharon built his reputation by slaughtering not only Palestinian fighters, but unarmed Palestinians and other Arabs of all genders and ages.
The first war crimes Sharon ordered against Palestinian civilians occurred in 1952, when he headed Unit 101, the first Zionist special forces unit, which became world famous after the massacre of 69 villagers from Qibia, Jordan, on Oct. 14, 1953. In 1956, during the Suez invasion he led the 890th Parachute Regiment, which executed more than 200 Egyptian prisoners and Sudanese civilians.
As defense minister, he led the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and collaborated with the slaughter of 1,900 Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatila camps, with the torturing, rapes and murders directly carried out by Lebanese Falange fascist militia. Even an Israeli court had to find Sharon “indirectly” guilty of that crime.
The Lebanese resistance finally drove the Israelis out in 2000. That same year, as prime minister, Sharon provoked the Second Intifada with a possessive visit to the Esplanade of the Mosques in Jerusalem. By the time of the second Israeli invasion of Lebanon, in 2006, when Lebanese resistance fighters stopped it cold, Sharon was already in a coma. He was replaceable.
The Washington Post and New York Times praised Sharon, as did most imperialist leaders, including the eight who spoke at his funeral. Biden’s speech was the longest. It was 18 minutes of unqualified praise from the center of the empire for a brutal butcher of the settler-state charged with controlling the Indigenous population of the energy and resource-rich Middle East.