Wednesday, January 07, 2004

The convention of Israel's Likud Party, the formation of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, revealed deep divisions. Haaretz reports that the head of government told party members "The prime minister is the one ultimately who must decide," adding, "It is my responsibility to consider all the factors, to hear all the opinions, and to make the decisions. Together with the other elected representatives, I decide and I must act."

The liberal daily reported a close aide of the prime minister condemning as "blatantly unconstitutional" proposals made by representatives of the far right in the party - calling for the government and Knesset [parliament] to be subject to the decisions of the Likud Central Committee and preventing Likud MKs [members of parliament] and ministers that vote against central committee decisions from running again for Likud positions.

The aide, a member of Sharon's center-right party, fumed "This is exactly how the Nazis came to power in Germany... With various bills that passed one after the other, they totally hollowed out the central authority. It's a phenomenon that repeated itself in other fascist regimes in Europe."

Scary to think that Ariel Sharon is part of his party's moderate wing.

Haaretz also ran a column on one of the Israeli military's (IDF) "refuseniks": soldiers who conscientiously refuse to serve in the occupied territories. One lieutenant colonel spoke of the IDF's conduct and actions in in the territoires, "Human life has lost its worth and values we were raised on, such as purity of arms, have become a bad joke."

The refuseniks are praised by the columnist. But the writer also wonders where are the Palestinian refuseniks. What I would like to know is why there is no one on the other side crying out against the Palestinian Authority's policy of hatred and bloodshed... Where are the Palestinian refuseniks who object to the murder of women and children? How come, when civilians are accidentally killed in one of our military operations, everyone clamors right away for an investigation, while their suicide bombers have no qualms about boarding a bus packed with children or entering a crowded restaurant and blowing themselves up, fully aware of who they are taking with them? Not only are they not denounced, but their families are treated with respect and showered with perks and pensions.

Although I've sympathized with the desires of Palestnians to have their own state (and heaped scorn on Sharon), the hypocrisy underlined by the writer seriously undermines their cause. Palestinians' refusal to condemn terrorism as a society has only strengthed the resolve and influence of Israeli hard liners. There are an increasing numbers of Israelis who question their military's tactics and actions in the occupied territories. If the Palestnians applied the same self-scrutiny, who knows what might happen?

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