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‘His eye was not dim’ — Council on Foreign Relations gushes over Sharon

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Ariel Sharon

Ariel Sharon

 From the disturbing/unsurprising file: In a “Dear Colleague” letter, the Council on Foreign Relations sends out its list of articles on Ariel Sharon and well, check out the bandwidth on these pieces. Fulsome praise from neoconservatives Max Boot and Elliott Abrams– “His Eye Was Not Dim” — and liberal interventionist Richard Haass– the “genius” of Sharon — and Robert Danin, who comes off as a liberal Zionist. The only one of five featured posts that is critical is from conservative Palestinian Hussein Ibish, who decries Sharon’s “gun Zionism” and says, “The bodies piled up in Sabra and Shatila irrevocably defined Sharon’s reputation for Arabs and many others.” The several archived pieces linked at the bottom of the letter include some critical analysis of Sharon, but nowhere do we see him denounced as a war criminal, which is how many people round the world look on him.

Alton Frye greets Sharon at Council on Foreign Relations, 1989

Alton Frye greets Sharon at Council on Foreign Relations, 1989, picture in Dear Colleague letter from CFR

Dear Colleague,

With the death of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, CFR and Foreign Affairs offer analysis of his legacy.

CFR Senior Fellow Robert M. Danin lays out the commonality between Sharon’s approach to politics and battle.

“One of the most important lessons that Sharon applied to the battlefield and to politics was that Israel had to seize the initiative, not simply react to events. He, more than any, appreciated the country’s basic security dilemma: while possessing a strong and highly motivated army, Israel is dwarfed in size and numbers by an inhospitable region. For him, taking the initiative was the enduring legacy of Jewish history, of his military experience, and of his political success.”

Read “Israel’s Ariel Sharon: Always Seizing the Offensive.

CFR Senior Fellow Elliott Abrams describes the wide scope of Sharon’s political legacy in a piece posted today by Commentary magazine.

“He had taken the blame for the failures of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon—he had been defense minister—and the massacre of Palestinians in two Lebanese refugee camps by Christian militiamen was deemed a stain not only on his leadership but his character. On [a 1991 trip to the United States], he was not invited to one U.S. government office. Through the intervention of friends, HUD Secretary Jack Kemp finally agreed to see Sharon in the lobby of the hotel where he was staying. By 2004, the president of the United States was calling him ‘a man of peace’ and Sharon no doubt enjoyed it.”

Read “Ariel Sharon: His Eye Was Not Dim.”

CFR President Richard N. Haass explained in a 2006 CFR interview [with Bernard Gwertzman] the policy importance of Sharon’s decision to withdraw Israeli settlers from Gaza.

“And the genius, if you will, of unilateral disengagement from Gaza was that it offered you an approach to a peace process, but didn’t require two partners, which was the traditional approach. My hunch is that had Sharon remained viable politically and physically, what we would have seen was not a return to a traditional peace process, but instead a period of successive unilateral disengagements up to a certain point. And then my guess is that Sharon would have said, ‘Ok. We will go this far unilaterally. We are only prepared to take the final steps, though, of disengagement and withdrawal if we have a Palestinian partner.'”

Read the CFR interview.

In a piece that is now live on the Foreign Affairs website, American Task Force on Palestine Senior Fellow Hussein Ibish draws a connection between the Gaza pullout and prospect of a two-state solution.

“Sharon demonstrated that settlements can, in fact, be evacuated. Because of his actions, it is no longer even possible to ask whether the Israeli government is capable of dismantling settlements. The questions are simply when and where they will choose to do so. And that means that none of the existing settlements and other demographic, infrastructural, topographic, or administrative changes Israel enforces in the occupied territories should be regarded as irreversible. The implications of this for the prospects of a two-state solution are profound.”

Read “The Sharon Doctrine.

Sharon’s primary achievement, according to CFR Senior Fellow Max Boot in a 2006 op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, was “to bulldoze the fantasies of the left and right.”

“The Israeli left for years had dreamed of reaching an accord to live in peace with the Palestinians. Yasser Arafat’s cynical resort to violence in 2000—even though he was offered sovereignty over almost the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip—showed that no meaningful negotiations were possible when so many Palestinians had not truly accepted the legitimacy of a Jewish state. The right, for its part, had dreamed of settling Jews in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to make those areas forever part of Greater Israel. But the Palestinians’ higher birth rate meant that before long they would become the majority, forcing Israel to jettison either its Jewish identity or its democracy.”

Read “Ariel Sharon’s Unending Legacy.

More from CFR and Foreign Affairs:

“Sharon’s Lessons for Israel,” a 2014 article currently on the Foreign Affairs website by Hebrew University Professor Emeritus Martin van Creveld

“Sharon is Making History with Gaza Pullout Plan,” a 2005 CFR interview with Middle East scholar David Makovsky

In Israel, Ariel Sharon’s Dark Victory,” an 2003 op-ed by former CFR senior fellow Henry Siegman

The Last of the Patriarchs,” a 2002 Foreign Affairs essay by Israeli journalist Aluf Benn


Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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15 Responses

  1. Citizen on January 12, 2014, 12:06 pm

    Let the PTB keep up their assault on our intelligence. For all you NFL playoff & Super Bowl fans, early warning: the fight against BDS, in this case, against Sodastream, will be in full view on Superbowl day, this coming February 2–Scarlett J is the new face of Sodastream!

    Obviously, the Ziocons are digging everywhere to find support for their dream at the expense of the whole goy world, and, most especially, Dick and Jane Taxpayer, with a kid in the US military.

  2. LeaNder on January 12, 2014, 12:34 pm

    In 1950, he left the army to study law but returned to the military three years later to set up a new commando unit. Its task was to strike into the neighboring countries, mainly Jordan and Egypt but occasionally Syria as well, through which terrorists crossed into Israel. He quickly proved an effective, if brutal, commander. He repeatedly exceeded his orders, killing far more Arabs (civilians included) than his superiors had planned and causing international outrage.

    The so-called infiltrators?

  3. homingpigeon on January 12, 2014, 12:58 pm

    A few decades ago on an oil rig in Saudi an Egyptian taught me a colloquial expression, “RaaH lil ma’bara u ba’at sukkara bi Teezu.”

    Literally “He went to the cemetery and a sugar lump was found in his ass.” The expression is used when someone unpopular with no redeeming characteristics dies. When carried to the cemetery for burial people manage to find something nice to say, finding sugar where the sun doesn’t shine.

  4. Sumud on January 12, 2014, 1:03 pm

    Isn’t Hussein Ibish of Lebanese, not Palestinian, descent?

    He appears to think that more than half a million Israeli settlers can be removed from the occupied West Bank simply because 8,000 were from Gaza.

    He’s wedded to the two state solution. On the one hand Ibish holds out unilateral disengagement from Gaza as proof a permanent two state solution is achievable, but also admits said disengagement was about ridding Israel of a strategic liability (1.5 mil Palestinians) rather than peace. It’s all a bit shaky. No mention of all that lovely fresh water Israel steals from the West Bank aquifer every day, and other such plunder.

    • ritzl on January 12, 2014, 1:26 pm

      Ibish is a tool in the service of US Beltway CW. Nothing shaky about it.

      • Donald on January 13, 2014, 9:28 am

        Ibish plays the role that Fouad Ajami used to play (when I read it) in the New Republic. He tells liberal Zionists and other Westerners what they want to hear. Not that he’s lying about what he believes. It’s just that people with those beliefs are going to be more popular with lib Zionists than, say, Ali Abunimah.

  5. irishmoses on January 12, 2014, 1:17 pm


    I think much of the praise of Sharon as an effective military and political leader is valid. Whether or not you can stomach the morality of his cause and actions, he was clearly effective at promoting and advancing that cause.

    Sharon’s life and accomplishments, atrocities and all, didn’t occur in a vacuum. Sharon must be viewed in the context of Jabotinsky and his creed and followers. Is Sharon any different than Ben Gurion, Meir, Begin, Shamir, or Netanyahu? I think only in that he was far more effective in advancing the Jabotinsky crusade for a Greater Israel than all except Ben Gurion. They all were willing to commit atrocities to gain their Greater Israel. Sharon was just more direct and brutal (and effective) than most of Jabotinsky’s warrior/disciples.

    • Sumud on January 12, 2014, 9:04 pm

      What Sharon has created is not sustainable – so I question the praise.

      • Citizen on January 12, 2014, 10:38 pm

        @ irishmoses
        @ Sumud

        Perhaps one could say the same about Adolph Hitler, except Israel has not yet been beaten down as Germany was–he didn’t live as long, and neither did his Greater Germany.

      • Sumud on January 13, 2014, 8:57 am

        Thought about this a little more. I don’t dispute his ability as a military man – it’s as a politician that Sharon is problematic.

        He failed to comprehend the human element in the Israel/Palestine conflict and thus his creation is not stable. Sharon moved pieces around on a board – but didn’t factor in Palestinian sumud. He was a big fan of SA’s bantustans but somehow thought Israel would never be labelled an apartheid state? It doesn’t add up to “great man”.

      • Citizen on January 13, 2014, 12:38 pm

        @ Sumud
        I think Sharon’s problematic on both counts. Hitler also moved pieces around on the board and didn’t factor in comparable sumud. They both relied on overpowering might to get their way. Might makes right, history is written by the victors POV. In Sharon’s case, he was beaten by Hezbullah. Look what it took to beat Hitler’s forces. The greatest battle the US military ever fought on the ground was the battle of the Bulge–conceived and planned by Hitler, the former corporal, against the opinion of his whole military brass. What defeated Hitler there was lack of gasoline and lack of an air force arm at that point in the war game. Sharon was defeated by rag-tag Hexbullah although he had far superior military force. I don’t view Sharon as a superior warrior, but rather as similar to an SS policeman leader defending Germany from the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

  6. Shmuel on January 12, 2014, 2:00 pm

    Abrams’ eulogy for Sharon concludes:

    Bringing peace to his people was his life’s work, and Ariel Sharon kept at it up to the moment of his stroke. His energy and determination were a source of inspiration to men many years his junior. As the Scriptures say of Moses, his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.

    Yes, Scripture does say that of Moses, but the expression appears once more in Scripture, in Zechariah 11:17, in a chapter that begins:

    Open your doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour your cedars.

    In Zechariah, however, the eye of the “worthless shepherd” is utterly dimmed.

  7. bilal a on January 12, 2014, 2:54 pm

    The CFR is a BP Shell-Aramco international cartel corruption and infiltration, policy control NGO, actually the first , and most successful, AIPAC type successful even its members consider it American, until they read the funding pages of its annual report., a who’s who of the most evil transnationals involved in usury, big oil, and weapons trading.

    Funding: FOUNDERS Bank of America Merrill Lynch Chevron Corporation Exxon Mobil Corporation [Big Oil Gulf ]The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. Hess Corporation JPMorgan Chase & Co. McKinsey & Company, Inc. The Nasdaq OMX Group PRESIDENT’s CIRCEL Alcoa Inc. American Express Barclays BlackRock Bloomberg BP p.l.c.[EU Gulf] Bridgewater Associates, LP CA Technologies Citi Credit Suisse Dell Inc. Eni [italy oil] Fortress Investment Group LLC GoldenTree Asset Management Guardsmark LLC [SAUDI] Kingdon Capital Managemen,Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. Korn/Ferry International Lazard Lockheed Martin Corporation Mars, Inc. The McGraw-Hill Companies MetLife Moody’s Corporation Morgan Stanley New Media Investments Omnicom Group Inc. Parsons Corporation Reliance Industries Limited [EU -Gulf] Shell Oil Company Soros Fund Management Standard Chartered Bank Toyota Motor North America, Inc. Veritas Capital LLC ..

    page 55,2012

    On CFR linked Charlie Rose, “Syriana” director talks about his meeting in a 15000 square foot apartment on New York’s fifth avenue , how the CFR funding sources buy media, hire street mobs, spend 50 million for a Coup, assassination through small planes : ( a private CIA).

    The Palestine Conflict is a Cash cow.

  8. piotr on January 13, 2014, 8:44 am

    Ibish: “And that means that none of the existing settlements and other demographic, infrastructural, topographic, or administrative changes Israel enforces in the occupied territories should be regarded as irreversible. The implications of this for the prospects of a two-state solution are profound.”

    To non-logicians here. Indeed there is a rule of inference

    if A(x) is proven, so is “for every x, A(x)”

    HOWEVER, this is true ONLY if A(x) was proven without knowing or assuming what x is. In the example here, reversibility of one settlement that we know about does not imply reversibility of any other settlements. And the whole argument is irrelevant because physical reversibility is not in question, and it applies to the entire Jewish presence in Palestine, but to political conditions. And to that the answer seems to be clear: such conditions may exists in the presence of sanction, and they are highly unlikely otherwise.

  9. aiman on January 13, 2014, 8:52 am

    “His eye was not dim”

    Sounds like a Cyclops.

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