According to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Israel is on the brink of disaster. "The tension here, the atmosphere here looks like the eve of the civil war," Sharon told NBC. "All my life I was defending life of Jews. Now for the first time, steps I'm taking to protect me from Jews."[sic]
The latest chaos in Israel stems from Sharon's bullheaded, dangerous decision to force 9,000 Jews from their homes in the Gaza Strip. Despite a May 2004 referendum by the governing Likud Party barring Sharon from pushing out the Jewish residents of Gaza, Sharon has forced his will on the Israeli Knesset. Just two weeks ago, Sharon won a major political victory when the Knesset voted to reject a national referendum on the Gaza "pullout."
Capitulation is apparently Sharon's strategy for a stronger Israel. At least that's what he told the media at his April 11 joint news conference with President Bush: "The process of this disengagement will strengthen Israel, improve the quality of life for Israeli citizens, reduce the friction between us and the Palestinians, and can pave the way toward the implementation of the road map."
Moshe Feiglin of Manhigut Yehudit, a bloc within Likud that provides Sharon's main political opposition, was audibly angered by both Sharon's "civil war" statement and his obvious power grab. He told me on Tuesday that he is no longer interested "in listening to Sharon. Sharon proved that words mean nothing to him ? Sharon arranged the referendum in Likud, obligated himself to the results, and then threw them away, and the only explanation he gave was 'It was a mistake.'"
As Feiglin explained, Sharon has brought Israel to the boiling point -- complaining about it now is no more than "George Orwell '1984' Newspeak ? In Sharon's world, peace means war, and democracy means dictatorship ? Sharon, who is holding the power, who is dictating the state, who has all the responsibility for the direction it goes -- he is the man who is blaming the opposition for his acts, the simple civilians for the results. Another typical symptom of a dictator."