The cover story in the latest New Statesman is headlined:
We were wrong about Sharon
Sharon: His past is appalling and we may loathe his motives, but he did things that Palestinians and peaceniks have been demanding for years. And he would have gone on doing them.
The editorial resonates with me also. I was pretty appalled when Sharon was first elected PM. I understood why, as Israel Labour had been humiliated by Arafat, but I still disapproved.
Yet in recent times his actions spoke for themselves, especially with withdrawal from Gaza which he managed with popular support from Israeli citizens. It is precisely because he had been such a hawk, that the public supported him in the withdrawal.
A lot of armchair criticis from abroad don’t realise how difficult the Gaza pullout was. Even under Sharon it has led to more attacks on Israel. rather than be at all appreciative of the unilateral withdrawal, Palestinian terrorists now go up to the new border and fire rockets through as Israelis. Now when this is what happens when you give land back (the rocket attacks just move closer to your neighbourhood), you don’t tend to remain wildly enthusiastic on giving up land. However because they were confident that Sharon would respond strongly to such attacks they were willing to trust him and give up land.
His sucessor(s) will have a tough time ahead. It is obvious the Palestinian leadership struggles with controlling the radical activists, and that even if Israel gives up all occupied territories there would still be daily terrorist attacks on Israel by Palestinian terrorists.