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The coffin of Ariel Sharon, after a Knesset memorial,  13 January 2014. (Photo: Allison Deger)

The coffin of Ariel Sharon yesterday, 13 January 2014. Photo by Allison Deger

This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archives page.

Whether one thinks of Ariel Sharon as a warrior, thug or war criminal, one thing is indisputable. Sharon was a provocateur of atrocity.

In being a provocateur of atrocity, Sharon was a breeding ground for Jewish dissent. His Lebanon adventure precipitated the civil war within the Jewish community over Israel that continues to divide Jews. It was a main instigator for the new Israeli historians and the subversive narrative of Israel’s origins which is now accepted around the world.

The exodus from Israel of Israeli Jews of Conscience crystallized with Sharon’s Lebanon war in 1982. That exodus continues today.

In the long run, Sharon diminished support for a Jewish state even among mainstream Jews. That support will never be recovered.

Sharon precipitated the ever deepening isolation of Israel in the international community. He expanded Israel’s borders and built walls that permanently define Israeli Jews as a ghettoized, albeit, nuclearized community in the Middle East. Like the Jewish civil war, these borders and isolation are permanent. There is no going back.

Israel has gone so far on Sharon’s path rumor has it that even Germany is fed up and wants to normalize its relations with Israel. The days of repentant gifts of nuclear submarines and solemn references to the Holocaust will soon fade into the past.

Sharon was a provocateur of the Jewish prophetic.

More than Palestinians or the Arab countries, Sharon feared the intuitive depth of his own people. That, and not peace, guided Sharon in his last years. Sharon desperately wanted to define Israel’s expanded borders so that they could never be undone – by Jews who had awakened to justice.

But once awakened, Jews won’t go back either. You can’t normalize atrocity and expect deep Jewish commitment over time. Lip service, yes, at least for now. Like J Street’s pitiful commentary on Sharon’s passing. Such drivel is too obvious on the political level. It cannot remain over time.

With all the outsized publicity of Sharon’s death, Allison Deger correctly points out that Sharon’s funeral was sparsely attended and by low level dignitaries. When Joe Biden heads the American delegation you know there isn’t much at stake. Or the administration is trying to send a message.

In surveying the gathered mourners, Benjamin Netanyahu’s funeral must have flashed before his eyes. Whatever political victories Netanyahu has won, his legacy won’t be honored – by Jews or others. When the only thing you have is power, death seals your historical fate. Those who gravitate to power have other figures to cultivate.

Sharon was a provocateur of atrocity and the prophetic. He bet on atrocity winning the day. For Jews around the world, this is our true battleground.

Marc H. Ellis
About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of the Global Prophetic. His latest book is Finding Our Voice: Embodying the Prophetic and Other Misadventures.

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13 Responses

  1. hophmi
    hophmi
    January 14, 2014, 10:35 am

    “Sharon desperately wanted to define Israel’s expanded borders so that they could never be undone – by Jews who had awakened to justice.”

    The people most likely to undo the de facto border Sharon created with the security fence are either rightists, who favor annexing the West Bank, or liberal Zionists, who will negotiate a two-state solution. The only Jews sure not to affect it in any way are radical left Jews. Liberal Zionists have long been awakened to the justice of two states for two peoples. Rightists believe in justice for the Jewish people only. Leftist Jews believe in justice for themselves, the justice of the Palestinians as radical chic, where Westerners can be holier than the Pope in pursuing a cause on their behalf.

    “With all the outsized publicity of Sharon’s death, Allison Deger correctly points out that Sharon’s funeral was sparsely attended and by low level dignitaries.”

    Yeah, Israel’s a small country. I did not see the comparative analysis Allison did with the leaders of other small countries. On October 9, 2013, Wilfried Martens, the former Prime Minister of Belgium, passed away. I didn’t check real close; was his funeral attended by lots of foreign dignitaries?

    ” When Joe Biden heads the American delegation you know there isn’t much at stake. ”

    Really? Wow, the head of the US delegation to Margaret Thatcher’s funeral was Dick Cheney. Biden didn’t even go. She must be REALLY unimportant.

    And I’m just curious; you probably hate Yitzchak Rabin’s guts too. His funeral was attended by lots and lots of foreign dignitaries, including the President of the United States. So what is this line really about? It’s silly.

  2. amigo
    amigo
    January 14, 2014, 11:26 am

    I am happy to say that I was unable to find the name of any Irish Government Official who attended this criminals funeral.

    • Justpassingby
      Justpassingby
      January 14, 2014, 12:34 pm

      Maybe I am wrong, but I have always considered Ireland a state that have taken position against this regime many times when rest of the west havent. Good job!

  3. Ellen
    Ellen
    January 14, 2014, 11:28 am

    The exodus from Israel of Israeli Jews of Conscience crystallized with Sharon’s Lebanon war in 1982. That exodus continues today.

    Don’t you really also mean among all people of conscience? 1982 and the aftermath of the invasion of Lebanon was the time everything I was taught to believe about Israel and it’s founding shattered.

    Eyes opened and then I started learning so much more everywhere I looked. Painful.

    Sharon may go down in history as a destructive force for Israel in the long run. But he was little different from the rest of the founding generation of Zionists and terrorists. Men who may be no different from nation builders anywhere.

    Yet with the modern Israel, its followers were going along based on lies and deceit. Having been cheated, yes a real and internal exodus is going on.

    But isn’t the Zionist dream of a physical earthy Israel the golden calf?

  4. rpickar
    rpickar
    January 14, 2014, 11:52 am

    While the tone of this piece is appreciated, Marc Ellis still holds on to some of the rhetorical claptrap of the Zionist narrative. He wrote, “It was a main instigator for the new Israeli historians and the subversive narrative of Israel’s origins which is now accepted around the world.”

    History is a set of events which physically took place on this Earth. There is one and only one history of all people on Earth. A narrative is how the events are strung together to make a story.

    The ethnic cleansing of Palestine began in Dec 1947, and 250,000 Palestinians were ethnic cleansed before Independence was declared, on May 15, 1948. Those facts are unchangeable, forever etched in the historical record. An “alternative narrative” is not legitimate, it was a lie when it was offered by Zionist-controlled newspapers at the time, and forever after, will always be a lie.

    Ellis wrote “the subversive narrative of Israel’s origins which is now accepted around the world”. The New Historians are only “new” to Israelis. The Arab countries knew the truth all along. The rest of the world which was not under Zionist influence knew the truth all along. There is no “subverting”, there is restoration of what is true.

    The entire reason for Mondoweiss is that the mainstream media does not report news about Israel/Palestine accurately, because it is Zionist-owned or -controlled. But that’s not new, it encompasses the whole post-WWII era.

    • NickJOCW
      NickJOCW
      January 15, 2014, 9:37 am

      History is a set of events which physically took place on this Earth. There is one and only one history of all people on Earth. A narrative is how the events are strung together to make a story.

      That is questionable. Those events are the evidence available to an historian, who sifts and strings a selection into a narrative, inevitably making the selection in his own age, reflecting his own values and with his own vocabulary. And, unfortunately, too often with a myopic predetermined purpose that belies any other. To the English, Waterloo remains a great victory whereas the French see it as an illustration of Prussian perfidy. Most ‘historians’ are simply propagandists.

  5. W.Jones
    W.Jones
    January 14, 2014, 12:04 pm

    I think it’s sad he died, like any person. It’s also sad that so many refugees were slaughtered and died in bad ways in Shatilla. I wish they could have gotten a half-mast- and much much more. How can you rectify what happened to them, but with a miracle?

  6. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    January 14, 2014, 7:11 pm

    RE: “Whether one thinks of Ariel Sharon as a warrior, thug or war criminal, one thing is indisputable. Sharon was a provocateur of atrocity. . . In the long run, Sharon diminished support for a Jewish state even among mainstream Jews. That support will never be recovered.” ~ Marc Ellis

    MY COMMENT: I think of Ariel Sharon as a “debaser”! ! !

    AN EARLY AUTUMN EVENING’S MUSICAL INTERLUDE, proudly brought to you by the makers of the new Über-Xtreme Ziocaine® Ultra CR (Controlled Release) Transdermal Patch: Let The Good Times Roll!™

    Got me a movie
    I want you to know
    Slicing up eyeballs
    I want you to know

    Girlie so groovy
    I want you to know
    Don’t know about you
    But I am un chien andalusia

    I am un chien andalusia
    I am un chien andalusia
    I am un chien andalusia

    Wanna grow up to be
    Be a debaser
    (Debaser)
    Debaser
    (Debaser)
    Debaser
    (Debaser)

    Debaser
    (Debaser)
    Debaser
    (Debaser)
    Debaser
    (Debaser) . . . ~ the Pixies, 1989

    Pixies – Debaser (Official Video) HD [02:57] – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1u4pX7WifgE

    P.S. The Ziocaine concept was first used on Mondoweiss by “Mooser”.

    P.P.S. The Pixies’ Debaser is used on Sam Seder’s Majority Report.

  7. notatall
    notatall
    January 14, 2014, 8:47 pm

    “His Lebanon adventure precipitated the civil war within the Jewish community over Israel that continues to divide Jews.”

    Would it were so.

  8. thankgodimatheist
    thankgodimatheist
    January 15, 2014, 3:02 am

    A forgotten or ignored fact about Sharon’s early career as a murderer of civilians revealed by Azmi Beshara
    58 years ago three Palestinian women on their way to the village’s fountain to collect water ambushed by Sharon and his soldiers and shot under the pretext that they illegally crossed the borders (unknown to them as they have always done so to get water).
    Also in the article details of many massacres of civilians Sharon committed over a long period and never been accounted for. He always found a pretext or justifications blaming the victims..
    Sorry but it’s in Arabic.
    http://www.arabs48.com/?mod=articles&ID=34022

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