|General Ariel Sharon standing in the Suez Canal, October 31, 1973.|
The General. By Ari Shavit. The New Yorker, January 23, 2006.
An Israeli journalist’s six years of conversation with Ariel Sharon.
Ariel Sharon in His Own Words. By Rick Richman. Commentary, January 12, 2014.
Surprisingly, this secular, Israel-born soldier defined himself not as an Israeli but as a Jew. Israel’s raison d’être, he said, is to be the place where the Jews will finally be cured of their mortal illness, their “eternal wandering.” But he had doubts about whether they would, in fact, be cured. He felt a profound uncertainty about the Jews’ ability to maintain sovereignty, and to hold on to the land and to preserve it. He spoke about the Arabs with great envy—they, he said, knew much better how to keep their honor and their land. “If there is something that I respect about the Arabs, it’s the fact that they never change their position,” he said. “The Palestinian leadership did not give up any of its demands, not one inch.”
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Sharon said these things for our interview. Informally, he was even tougher. He made it clear that he did not believe in peace agreements. He said that the 1948 War of Independence had not ended, and that we must be prepared for a struggle that would last for generations. He argued that the unilateral withdrawal from Southern Lebanon carried out by Ehud Barak in May, 2000, had led Yasir Arafat to believe that Israel had softened and that he could acquire more at no cost. Only two years before Sharon erected the separation wall, he scorned the idea. “How are you going to separate?” he had said. “Are you going to put up a wall in Jerusalem? Can you maintain a barrier at all inside a city? And you have to have security zones. You can’t make a separation along the Green Line”—that is, the pre-1967 borders. “So what are you going to do? Separate the Arabs from their lands?”
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When the talk of food and children faded, I asked Sharon whether the conflict would have an end.