"He is a man of war. He is a man of expansion. He is a man of occupation."
The words of Ziad Abu-Zayyad, a minister of the Palestinian Authority, capture the sentiments of the Palestinian people and many sympathetic Israelis as they survey the aftermath of the Israeli election. Former military strongman, minister of defence and leader of the right-wing opposition Ariel Sharon was swept into the office of Prime Minister by the largest electoral margin of victory in Israel's brief history.
There is great fear about what is in store for the Middle East and a look to the past and present confirm a not-so-peaceful future.
At age 14, Sharon was a revolutionary, fighting against the British colonial rulers. At 25, he gained a reputation for shrewd and ruthless actions in Israel's war against Jordan. He played significant roles in the Suez Crisis (1956), the Six-Day War (1967) and the Yom Kippur War (1973). He was the head of special commando unit 101 throughout the '50s, '60s and '70s, exterminating Arab infiltrators in the West Bank and Gaza as well as eliminating Palestinian guerillas.
In politics he has been arrogant, antagonistic and a poster boy for aggressive Zionist practices. In 1973 he established the far right Likud Party and by 1977 was a minister of agriculture, implementing widespread Jewish settlement in the occupied territories. In 1998, he displayed his lack of couth and diplomacy by refusing to shake hands with, speak to or look at Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat at the Wye River talks in Maryland. The most offensive act of his career as far as Palestinians are concerned is the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 while he was Minister of Defence. The goal was to crush the PLO operating inside the Lebanese border; the outcome was the massacre of thousands of Palestinian refugees in camps outside of Beirut. The responsible party was a Christian militia, backed by the
Charges were brought against Sharon and he was found guilty of indirect responsibility and forced to resign.
His current proposed peace deal takes away the vast majority of what his predecessor Ehud Barak offered. The Palestinian Authority is not optimistic.
"If he comes to us and he wants to take us to eat the apple from the beginning, to go back to the zero point, I'm afraid that we will not have a peace process anymore," said a skeptical chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat. "I'm afraid that I will have to say 'God help the Palestinians and Israelis,' because to have a meaningful peace process means to continue where we left off and he is not willing to do so."
If his background is testimony, Ariel Sharon is militant and ignorant. He is a Zionist whose only concern is the expansion of Jewish Israel. He does not care for the citizens of Israel who are of Palestinian descent. His actions to crush them and the words he has spoken against them throughout his life are proof of that. The peace process, in his hands, no longer exists. He is a Jewish nationalist in a state where there are more than one nation of people, more than one culture and a million different definitions of "Israeli."
He has been described as "part Douglas MacArthur, part Richard Nixon, part hand-grenade." He is a man who could bring war back to the Middle East. He will leave Jewish settlers dead; he will leave Palestinian revolutionaries dead. The people elected him and democracy will see to it that they will get what they've chosen to receive.