Tuesday 14 October 2003

Why Sharon is dangerous

The reason I keep bleating on about Sharon and his psycho Israeli government is simple, if you saw that a neighbouring house was on fire, wouldn't you try to warn everyone and put it out before it burned your own house down? The middle east is not just "over there" if we're not careful it'll end up embedded sixteen inches up our own arseholes!

Why? Because he doesn't even try to keep his promise of peace, and has made his promise of security worthless. Because he is a bloody adventurer who scoffs at dangers, even if you pay the price. Because this week he revived the incitement against the left over a memorandum of understanding that was drafted together with senior Palestinian figures. Because the moves of an especially skilled tactician are especially dangerous.

Plenty of familiar reasons for Sharon being a political ticking bomb spring immediately to mind. Here are several more that occur upon second, and third, thought.

* They believe him: The incredible and dangerous thing is that despite everything, most Israelis still believe him and believe in him. Sharon has honed the art of political deception to such precision that its victims become passive, and even satisfied, observers. This is the Sharon paradox: The situation under his leadership is so terrible that the majority, which yearns for some illusion of an achievement, prefers not to believe that the situation is as abominable as it is.

* The success of failure: This is why Sharon is still able to plant the empty hope that things will get better - if you'll all just wait a little bit, and then some more. Under normal circumstances, this tactic would collapse after three years of such dissonance between hope and despair. But Sharon is very dangerous because of his tremendous ability to get the public, ordinarily known for its cranky skepticism, to suspend its disbelief in direct proportion to the gravity of the national predicament. Paradox number two promises to keep the Sharon danger alive: As the country's plight worsens, Israelis' dependence on a "strongman" who will rescue them from their troubles grows in equal measure - even if the purported savior is largely responsible for getting them into the mess in the first place. Sharon deserves a Nobel Prize for his discovery of "The Success of Failure."

* He has a sense of humor: The aforementioned contradiction also has a comic effect, as if directed by Eli Yatzpan. Abba Eban used to say that Israel is not a banana republic, but a republic that slips on bananas. Sharon manages to make his repeated banana-slipping amusing, while you just keep bruising your backside. He knows how to giggle just like Yatzpan, how to be as amiable as blooper impresario Yigal Shilon. He's even shed his tic. When a dangerous leader also has a sense of humor, it's time to put on the flak jackets.

* The enemy as collaborator: Another dangerous leader who has lost his quiver, Yasser Arafat, is actually an important ally along Sharon's twisted road. From Lebanon until today, Arik has been pursuing Yasser like Sherlock Holmes on the trail of Moriarty. But there is cause to suspect that he is not really interested in Arafat's elimination. If his legendary rival were gone, Sharon would have to invent a new one.

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