The Associated Press article on Ariel Sharon's election as prime minister of Israel was woefully inadequate in describing his political and military background. How are readers supposed to understand the violent reaction to this man's election unless his history is included?
Sharon was a military terrorist beginning in 1953, when he commanded Unit 101, a force charged with retaliating against Palestinian raiders. After the killing of a woman in central Israel, Sharon and his men blew up at least 45 homes in the West Bank village of Kibya, then under Jordanian control. Sixty-nine people were killed, more than half of them women and children.
In October 1981, two months after becoming defense minister, he ordered the army to prepare a war plan, and within months the Israel Army invaded Lebanon up to and including Beirut, with 17,000 Lebanese dead -- most of them civilians. But in 1982, the massacre at Sabra and Shatila refugee camps brought his career crashing down.
In 1983, an Israeli government investigation found him personally responsible for allowing the Lebanese Christian militias into the camps that were surrounded by Israeli troops, ignoring the risk to the refugees, and taking no action to stop the massacre of 2,000 Palestinian refugees. The investigation found he was unfit to be defense minister, and he was forced to resign.
Last year, Sharon initiated the current violence by leading a force of Israeli police and troops into the Muslim holy site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque grounds, which has been for more than 1,000 years the third-holiest site in Islam. Captured by Israel in 1967, together with East Jerusalem and the West Bank, it remains occupied by Israel in defiance of several U.N. resolutions.
Predictably, the Muslim Palestinians exploded in anger, as did the Jews themselves in biblical times when the occupying Greeks profaned their temple, leading to the Maccabbean Revolt.
It is sad and ironic that the Israelis continue to practice against others the same sorts of oppression that they so lament in their own history. If U.S. foreign policy were consistent, Israel would soon be seeing an ultimatum. But instead, we will probably be drawn into supporting the only regime to have successfully violated U.N. resolutions for 50 years. War is coming to the Middle East, and soon.