If one were to hold on to Ariel Sharon's realm of concepts, according to which he compared Israel today to Czechoslovakia's situation in 1938, then Yasser Arafat is Adolf Hitler, Yasser Abed Rabbo is Joseph Goebbels, Marwan Barghouti is Adolf Eichman, the two murderous clans operating in the Bethlehem and Rafah areas are the Wehrmacht, and Sharon, in the best case scenario, is Edouard Benesh, the pitiful president of Czechoslovakia who escaped to Britain after the German invasion and set up a government in exile.
And they told us that Sharon was Judah the Maccabee.
Sharon's aides are well acquainted with the syndrome: From time to time, anger explodes from within him, in the form of an unrestrained diatribe. The focus of his frustration this time was President Bush. Not a single one of Sharon's celebrated advisers, recently listed in the latest state comptroller's report, was around to advise him to reconsider the wording of the statement and relinquish the unforgivably simplistic comparison between Neville Chamberlain and George W. Bush.
For eight months now, Sharon has had numerous opportunities to prove his ability to run the affairs of the state. One can hardly say he isn't trying; he himself has said that this is the toughest position he has even held in his action-packed life. The results speak for themselves: As far as one can remember, the country's situation has never fallen so drastically and so dramatically in every possible respect.
And even if one could justify demonstrating some patience with Sharon, particularly in light of the deformed inheritence he received, he last week managed severely to corrode the only asset he received from Ehud Barak: an intimate covenant with the U.S. Administration.
Sharon's failure to end the intifada - the key to saving the country from the current crisis - does not stem from a lack of fighting spirit. The prime minister is doing his utmost to pour such spirit, along with operational initiatives, into mechanisms for dealing with the Palestinians.
He understands that today, it is not possible to solve the Palestinian problem by might. He is conscious of the constraint that compels Israel to operate in a way that the world will consider legitimate, as well as the country's dependency on the U.S. He is aware of the intrinsic need for the unity government.
The compound of these factors shape his response to the Palestinian violence. He has been praised for his relative restraint in the face of acts of terrorism; but he is worthy of criticism for not drawing the necessary conclusions: that he should lead the country to cease its occupation and control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
His pathetic declaration that Israel will now act independent of others, seemingly announces a sharp change in the Israeli outlook: A declaration that Israel will work to wipe out Palestinian terrorism, without taking the U.S. into consideration. The expectations created by the verbal declaration was not, however, put into practice. If Israeli actions become more severe in the coming days, they will continue to be specific. The constraints that have defined Sharon's decisions up until now, will prevent him from declaring an all-out war against the Palestinian murderousness.
However, there still remain the questions of why he made his untenable declaration, why he trapped himself, and forced himself to publish the embarrassing apology to President Bush that was released on Friday night, and why he conjured up expectations for a dramatic change in Israel's operational attitude? Because when he is angry or frustrated he pulls out all the stops. And also because words and truth carry no value in his eyes.
The man who compared Israel to Czechoslovakia is also the man who promised voters that he has a plan to put an end to the Palestinian uprising, the man who sat across from the state comptroller, a former supreme court justice, and without batting an eyelid told him that during the election campaign, he did not write a check that has his signature all over it.
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