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ISRAEL - Aug. 4 - Sharon Actions Degrading The Nation.

An article in the IHT by Flora Lewis says PM Sharon's policy of assassinating Palestinian leaders, including Hamas leaders killed in Nablus on July 31 (see Arabs-Israel) has caused the Jewish nation to lose honour and gain no security. She says: "Each side (Arab & Israeli) is now reduced to the old fantasy that the other side will tire of the conflict, wear down and go away... Weak and small as it was (in 1948), the survival of Israel against the onslaught of three Arab armies was a kind of miracle. Then, after the 1967 war, Israel sought to wish away the Palestinians and Prime Minister Golda Meir said there was no such place as Palestine and General Sharon said their homeland was on the other side of the Jordan. So the Oslo negotiation seven years ago represented a tremendous breakthrough. Each side accepted the justified existence of the other... Israelis, living in increasing comfort, inevitably relaxed the selfless pioneer spirit and its high moral demands. But they sustained the determined democracy and demand for social justice that informed the early Zionists. Israel has always rejected the death penalty as a matter of principle, with the one exception of Adolf Eichmann, architect of the Nazi death camps. So it is a profound irony that a new policy, called "self-defense", has been put into practice without any intervention by the courts. It is the targeted assassination of Palestinians whom the military or the police consider terrorists on the basis of secret intelligence. If, as happened this week (July 31 in Nablus), two children and a visiting journalist are also killed in these attacks, that is considered the sad fate of innocent bystanders. The argument in Israel now is no longer about degrading its own moral values in treating other people this way, but whether the Sharon government is showing 'too much restraint'. Is that a call for outright massacre? And yet it comes at a time when world opinion is moving increasingly to demand punishment for war crimes, and from countries which have long been friends and supporters for Israel. It is true that Arab regimes have committed atrocities with no international retribution. But Israel always considered itself different. Now a Belgian judge is taking up the case of Mr. Sharon's role in the massacre in the refugee camps of Sabra and Chatila, and Denmark doesn't want to accept as Israeli ambassador a former secret police chief who found torture useful. No doubt it comes as an incredible shock to Israel, with its past and its ideals, to be accused of crimes against humanity, by people who are in no way its enemies. That, too, is part of the profound chance that has been going on. To say that its foes are just as bad, or worse, is no excuse at all. Nobody is gaining anything in this fight, not even security, let alone honor".
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:Aug 4, 2001
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