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Sai Englert It is usually safe to assume that any man praised by George W Bush, Tony Blair, and Benjamin Netanyahu, is probably a butcher, a war criminal, or a neoliberal hawk. In the case of riel !haron, all three fit like a glo"e. !omebody with only a peripheral knowledge of the history of the ongoing colonisation of #alestine would be forgi"en to think !haron was genuinely a $man of peace% who sought to establish a fair solution in the region. Indeed, newspapers and politicians the world o"er ha"e been repeating this story o"er and o"er again. &"en an l'(a)eera reporter, in a surreal turn of e"ents, offered his condolences on air to !haron*s family and friends. What all this hides, is not only the bloody history of the butcher of !abra and !hatila +as many on the left ha"e pointed out, but the history of the state of Israel itself. !haron was born riel !heinerman in the settlement of -far .alal in /012 to a labour 3ionist family from Georgia. fter enrolling in his settlement*s patrolling unit, he joined the Gadna, a youth paramilitary group, at the age of fourteen. 4a"ing enjoyed the patrol unit he was persuaded to join the 4aganah, the largest 3ionist underground paramilitary group at the time. The 4aganah was led by the 4istadrut, the main Israeli so'called trade union federation. 5ike many others, the role he played in the 4aganah led him to be an acti"e participant in the /062 war and later in the Israel 7efence 8orce 9 a cynically inappropriate name as !haron*s military career demonstrates. 8rom /06:, !haron was acti"ely in"ol"ed in the future Israeli state*s efforts of land anne;ation which led to the e;pulsion of o"er :<<.<<< #alestinians from their homes, and the destruction of just under =<< "illages. 4e did well, and >uickly became one of the prot?g?es of 7a"id Ben'Gurion 9 Israel*s first prime minister. It was Ben Gurion who renamed him !haron. !haron was put in charge of a secret commando named @nit /</. Its role was to undertake co"ert actions in neighbouring lands. The unit became famous when it raided the "illage of Aibiya in the (ordanian controlled West Bank. It blew up o"er 6< houses killing B0 #alestinian men, women and children. The massacre caused international outrage, but !haron was shielded from any serious conse>uences by his close relationship with Ben'Gurion. @nit /</ continued to operate under !haron*s control for a few more years. 4e would later take part in the wars of /0=B, B:, and :C. In the /0=B war, he o"ersaw the massacre of -han Dunis in Ga)a. The early life of !haron mirrors perfectly the early years of the 3ionist mo"ement in #alestine. society of mainly eastern &uropean settlers, wedded to a colonisation process through control of agricultural land, organised around the two issues of the defence of (ewish labour and (ewish produce +i.e the creation of an independent (ewish economy that e;cluded #alestinian workers,. These campaigns were organised by the 4istadrut and the leadership of the 3ionist labour mo"ement, including Ben'Gurion. rmed 3ionist labour groups like the 4aganah, that worked to keep farms purely (ewish, became the backbone of the Israeli army playing a leading role in the ethnic cleansing of #alestine.
fter Israel*s in"asion of (erusalem, the Golan, the West Bank, and Ga)a, !haron became one of the key allies of the settler mo"ement. In /0:C he said declared to a press conference EWeFll make a pastrami sandwich of themE. 4e continued, EDes, weFll insert a strip of (ewish settlements in between the #alestinians, and then another strip of (ewish settlements right across the West Bank, so that in 1= yearsF time, neither the @nited Nations nor the @nited !tates, nobody, will be able to tear it apart.E prescient "ision of the future. In that period he also turned to politics. Breaking with his pre"ious allies in the Israeli labour party, he joined the /0:: 5ikud go"ernment of .enachem Begin +e;'leader of the re"isionist Irgun terrorist group which, not so long ago, had marched through #alestine in .ussolini'style brown shirts,. The /0:: election was a major political turning point. 8or the first time since the /0C<s the labour 3ionist mo"ement had lost an election. This political shift represented the beginning of Israel*s mo"e away from protectionism and towards greater regional and international integration. !ince /0B:, Israel had become the @!* key military and political ally in its struggle against rab nationalism in the region. The rab defeats of /0B: and /0:C resulted in the signing of economic deals with Israel. These deals signalled the defeat of the Nasserist project and the entering of &gypt into the @! sphere of influence. Gnce again !haron found himself at the forefront of history. The defeat of the &gyptians and !yrians also allowed Israel to turn its attention to the growing #alestinian resistance mo"ement and in /021 Israel in"aded the south of 5ebanon where the #alestine 5iberation Grganisation +#5G, was based in refugee camps. t this point !haron was defence minister and o"ersaw the infamous Israeli operation that surrounded the #alestinian refugee camps of !abra and !hatila, allowing the 5ebanese #halangist militias to enter the camps and murder e"erybody they could lay their hands on. Hlose to four thousand #alestinians were massacred as the I78 stopped anyone from escaping. !haron had to resign from his post, but his political life was far from o"er and he would continue to ser"e in different 5ikud cabinets into the /02<s and 0<s. !haron returned to centre stage in 1<<< when he walked onto the 4aram al'!harif in (erusalem, surrounded by hea"ily armed guards. The act was part of his attacks on then prime minister &hud Barak, who !haron considered to be too soft in the peace negotiations with Dasser rafat. It was also a huge pro"ocation to the #alestinians triggering the second #alestinian uprising ' or intifada. !haron was elected as prime minister in 1<</, and he rapidly framed the Israeli crackdown on the intifada as part of Bush*s War on Terror. In the process, the I78 committed yet another massacre in the #alestinian refugee camp in (enin. 7espite all this, we are told that riel !haron should be remembered as the man who sought peace. This comes mainly from the fact, that in 1<<=, he unilaterally pulled out from the illegal settlements in Ga)a, and managed to sell it to the world as an attempt to reach an agreement with the #alestinians. In reality, many of the settlers were mo"ed to settlements in the West Bank. The blockade of Ga)a became total, and the li"ing conditions for the #alestinians in Ga)a further deteriorated. !haron was also prime minister when the Israeli state started building the wall through the West Bank grabbing yet more land away from the #alestinians. !haron wasn*t mo"ing the settlers out of Ga)a in order to broker peace. Gn the contrary, the post'/0B: occupation was costing the Israeli state too much, and it was therefore decided, that abandoning Ga)a and making life hell for its inhabitants was well
worthwhile. .eanwhile the continued occupation of the West Bank could be rented out to pri"ate firms and, more importantly, the #alestinian uthority. Gnce again !haron was part of a crucial de"elopment in the colonisation of #alestine. The media*s attempted whitewashing of !haron*s legacy is not just brushing the history of one man under the carpetI it is an attempt to hide the present reality of Israel as a "iolent colonial project, which has occupied #alestine, and waged war on the #alestinians since before its inception. Telling the history of !haron*s massacres is important, as the massacres continue to be a central part of the state that made him a hero. !haron ne"er saw the process of restructuring the occupation through. In 1<<B he went into a coma from which he ne"er woke up. But his ideological project goes on, and others, as "ile and dangerous ha"e taken his place. s the announcement came on !aturday many across #alestine, the refugee camps and the world celebrated the death of the war criminal. The scenes of joy were "isible around the globe, and in particular where those who sur"i"ed his massacres outli"ed him. 5et us celebrate the death of the butcher of !abra and !hatila. nd let us continue the struggle for a free #alestine.
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