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Ariel Sharon's Bloody Bandage

Wednesday, 17 August 2005 12:00 AM

Someone – still anonymous – sold on eBay a "bloody bandage" from Ariel Sharon's head. It was a relic from Israel's 1973 Yom Kippur War with several Arab states.

An offshore Internet casino, goldenpalace.com, apparently likes to get publicity by buying such esoteric items. It forked over $10,000 for the Sharon bandage.

Supposedly an Israeli medic who treated Sharon for wounds he suffered during the war preserved the bloodied cloth for posterity's sake.

The Sharon bandage will now join the casino's bizarre eBay collection, which includes "a 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich bearing the image of the Virgin Mary, pop star Britney Spears' positive pregnancy test, and Pope Benedict XVI's previously-owned VW Golf."

But the resurfacing of Sharon's bloody bandage is indicative of just how far Sharon and Israel have come since 1973, when her Arab neighbors engaged in a surprise attack, on two fronts, on the most holy of Jewish holidays.

They were dark days for Israel as Prime Minister Golda Meir contemplated using nuclear weapons to stop advancing Arab armies.

Fortunately, President Nixon answered Meir's dire plea for help, and an emergency airlift began.

A resupplied Israeli army, led by masterful and courageous military leaders such as tank commander Brigadier General Sharon, were able to turn the tables on the invading armies. Soon Israel was advancing on the Arabs, and their armies were driven deep into Syria and Egypt.

As a result of the war, Sharon became a veritable hero and a self-professed hawk in Israeli politics for decades to follow.

He was also a critic of the Israeli government's policy of appeasement in the face of terrorism.

After years of Intifada that wreaked havoc on Israel's will and public image, various Israeli governments have taken a consistent course of concessions to the Palestinians in a bid to end the violence and to please the American Department of State.

The Madrid Conference was followed by the Oslo Accord of 1993. Israel recognized Palestine, and PLO Chairman Yassir Arafat became head of state.

Still, the violence against Israel continued.

By 2001 the Israeli populace had become quite fed up with the mess, and in that year they turned to the no-nonsense hawk Sharon. Sharon the warrior was elected premier to end the security nightmare once and for all.

The Intifada (which means uprising in Arabic) began in 1987 with rock-throwing demonstrators, and has never stopped. In fact, it has intensified.

Nearly two decades later, concession after concession by the Israelis have yielded no peace for Israel – only waves of suicide bombers, many who are children and women.

Back in 1993, at the time Israel's government was agreeing to the idea of a Palestinian homeland in Judea and Samaria – the ancient homeland of Jews themselves – Benjamin Netanyahu warned that appeasement would yield more terror and that a nascent Palestinian state would be the springboard for more, not less, violence.

"But just as I warned in 1993 that the Oslo Agreement will bring attacks from Judea and Samaria and rockets from Gaza, so I unfortunately am convinced today that the current move will bring in the course of time an increase in terror rather than a decrease," Netanyahu wrote in his recent resignation letter from Sharon's government on the eve of the Gaza pullout.

And Netanyahu will undoubtedly be proven right again when he warned that the turnover of Gaza and removal of its Israeli settlements would not bring peace.

But Netanyahu has long been level-headed.

So what's happened to Sharon?

Soon after becoming prime minister, Sharon sounded a warning similar to Netanyahu's, remarking after a terror wave that he was to be no Neville Chamberlain.

"I call on the Western democracies, and primarily the leader of the Free World, the United States, do not repeat the dreadful mistake of 1938 when Europe sacrificed Czechoslovakia. Do not try to appease the Arabs at our expense," Sharon said, adding: "Israel will not be Czechoslovakia. Israel will fight terrorism."

So far, Sharon has sacrificed land. But unlike Chamberlain, he has done so without any promise of peace.

The Economist described Sharon's pullout move a "mystery" because it is "not the product of a peace agreement."

There is no sure-fire explanation as to why a sensible war hero would walk down the appeasement path – a path, the Economist states, "with no firm promise that their ferocious intifada will not erupt again the moment the settlers have gone."

Worse still is that Sharon's move has now put Israel in a weaker bargaining position to keep West Bank settlements and, most important, a unified Jerusalem.

At 77, could it be that Sharon the warrior may harbor a long-hidden desire to make the history books with a "peace" concession without anything, even paper, in return?

I have no idea.

But Sharon, the war hero with the bloody war bandage, should know better.

He should know you don't give away real property even for promises on paper, especially from a party that has little history of standing by its paper agreements.

One cannot expect non-democratic regimes to keep promises.

The Palestinian Authority today is an outgrowth of the PLO, an organization of gangs and terror groups, many of them rivals, who all agree on one thing: Israel must be destroyed.

So far, the mission statement has not changed.

Some Israelis, Mr. Sharon included, would rather ignore the reality.

But Sharon's bloody bandage reminds us of past treachery - and the price that could be paid for ignoring it.

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Someone - still anonymous - sold on eBay a "bloody bandage" from Ariel Sharon's head. It was a relic from Israel's 1973 Yom Kippur War with several Arab states. An offshore Internet casino, goldenpalace.com, apparently likes to get publicity by buying such esoteric...
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Wednesday, 17 August 2005 12:00 AM
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