Open season on Ariel Sharon and Israel

‘Whether the world likes you depends on who is winning the public relations war’

David Guttenfelder/AP

Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon’s second stroke in 2006 left him in a medically induced coma from which he never recovered. There had been anecdotal reports these past few years that his brain was showing signs of activity, contrary to medical reports. His son, Gilad, told reporters that his father’s eyes opened to visitors and that his fingers could flutter some responses. “It would be a crime to cut him down,” he said, justifying the family’s decision not to terminate life support as his father lay unable to speak or move for eight years. One can only hope this was wishful thinking on Gilad’s part. For a man so intellectually and physically vigorous in his life as Sharon, to be trapped inside his body that long doesn’t bear thinking about.

The plaudits Sharon deserved would have been more forthcoming had he had the courtesy to die promptly. At that point Israel had briefly been readmitted to polite circles. In 2005 prime minister Sharon had unilaterally withdrawn Israel from the Gaza Strip and forcibly removed Jewish settlers from some West Bank settlements. The sight of the Israel Defense Force dragging Orthodox Jews out of Netzarim and destroying their homes sent his international popularity soaring.

At the time of the devastating stroke, when I was no longer associated with the newspaper, London’s Sunday Telegraph nevertheless asked me to write his obituary—a clear sign that Sharon was rehabilitated. Eight years later the temperature had changed. The Telegraph obit emphasized Sharon’s ruthlessness and quoted the late prime minister Menachem Begin as saying, “He’s a brilliant general but a vicious man.” For good measure, he was blamed for the second intifada after his 20-minute walk on Temple Mount “wearing dark glasses and escorted by more than 1,000 police officers.” This old chestnut has been put to rest by the Palestinians themselves but it remains a fundamental plank in the media battle against Israel.

As in all things, only more so in the case of Israel, whether the world likes you depends on who is winning the public relations war. Israel was the world’s darling in 1968 and nothing fundamental has changed, only the light in which the same facts are viewed. In the BBC’s 2012 opinion poll, Israel tied for unpopularity with North Korea. My guess is that about 99 per cent of Canadians rarely worry about Israel or Jews but that the remaining one per cent can easily be located in two exclusive areas—the media and academia. This is the battleground of the culture wars where Israel lies hacked to pieces on the zeitgeist’s field. Except, one is proud to say, in Canada and specifically in Stephen Harper’s government.

Canadian media (with the exception of virulent sectarians like the Toronto Star) have more gentle reasons for their anti-Israeli stance than the old-fashioned anti-Semitism of European public broadcasters. Last week’s announcement of Vivian Bercovici as the new Canadian ambassador to Israel, for example, was met with aggressive naïveté by the CBC’s Evan Solomon in an interview with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. “Vivian Bercovici is Jewish,” Solomon announced with apparent astonishment. And, ominously, “there are going to be questions.” Baird replied that he thought she was Italian and chose her because her views on Israel were compatible with the policies of the Conservative government. Solomon was nonplussed: “Why not appoint someone who doesn’t have the perception of any kind of bias?” After remarking that it was illegal in Canada to inquire about religion when hiring, Baird tactfully let Solomon’s recycled received wisdom slip by.

Solomon’s questions were not anti-Semitic in intention, only tread-worn. It may be that the average CBC interviewer doesn’t understand “nepotism” and thinks the word means something akin to the appointment of a Catholic ambassador to the Vatican. Given that three of Canada’s previous ambassadors to Israel have been Jewish, Solomon’s discomfort—spontaneous or encouraged by his producers—could not be with Bercovici’s religion but her pro-Israel views. Amusingly, Bercovici, by profession a lawyer, had also been a columnist for the dreaded Toronto Star. Being the token pro-Israel columnist for a year allows the Star to claim it gives space to all shades of opinion while knowing that a once-a-month contribution can do no harm to core readers who will not believe her for a second.

Israel has flourished economically and culturally. Inside the country, though, there is growing recognition that demography is inexorable. Whatever wars you win, if you can’t win the battle of the bedroom—be fruitful and multiply—in the long run victory will elude. This has always been known, but knowing something that has come home is different. The coin has dropped. The Arab population will reach a critical point where the Jewish presence will not amount to a hill of beans—unless it establishes a typical Middle East society where one small tribe dominates all others. This would require a ruthless despotism that is anathema to Israel. The nation that hoped to be in the vanguard leading Middle East societies toward more tolerant Westernization may find its only hope lies in becoming Easternized itself. That is why peace is Israel’s only hope of survival.

Sharon’s home critics saw his withdrawals as part of a growing spiritual malaise. His actions, they said, would be played in the Arab world as confirmation of Israel’s weakness rather than its search for a just peace. And so they were. Last week Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated the Arab refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Squaring the Jewish circle of decency with the Arab square of demography will take more than a Jewish Euclid. “My whole life has passed in this conflict,” Sharon told Haaretz in 2001. “This is the only place in the world where the Jews have the right and ability and the strength to defend themselves. And that is a gift of God. That is what we must defend.” All I can say is that God has a macabre sense of humour when it comes to his Jews.




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Open season on Ariel Sharon and Israel

  1. Evan Solomon is also Jewish.

    • But Solomon (smile) is a self-hating jew, right? Like Richard Goldstone, the highly respected jurist from South Africa, who suggested that Israel might be guilty of war crimes.

      Life gets so complicated. Just ask Barbara.

      • That’s kinda like being a self-hating Anglican I would think. LOL

        I think war crimes are war crimes no matter who does them

        • yes, Emily….a war crime is a war crime.
          Problem however, is that you never seem concerned when they are perpetrated against Jews.

    • So too were Kapos that fed the crematoria in death camps run by those whose emblem was the hakenkreuz, or Swastika.

  2. The one thing you can be certain of in most Canadian Media (except SUNTV) is that Israel will always be the bad guy.
    The only party that actually supports Israel in spirit, as well as in deed is the Conservative Party.
    NDP – Mulcair is not hostile to Isreal or Jews….but most of his NDP members are. (see Libby Davies, or Megan Leslie)
    Liberal – Justin’s brother has a habit of making pro-palestinian “documentaries” which are always critical of Jews and Israel….and he is one of Justin’s advisors.
    Is anyone still curious as to why Jewish Canadians have shifted to the Conservatives?

    • its simple…. when the Liberals split ….the money shifted. The great Ignatieff was the candidate meant to bring it all back together in a liberal victory.

      • 1Billiam…..let me know if I’m reading your comment correctly.
        You’re saying that the Jews just followed the money?
        If that’s the case….it’s clear you belong to the aforementioned segment of the NDP I mentioned.

        • nope I am an old conservative…. disenfranchised in the 80′s. Hated Trudeau. Mulroney sigh “Canada got a Pepsi when it thought it ordered a Coke” Rest has been hell..lol.

          Mulcair does have a decent chance if Harper steps down.

    • They’re not too bright?

    • Some have had enough of the stale rhetoric that is soul deforming, which emanates from the Ivory Tower set.

      Have you also noticed that the thinking starts there, and then spreads to schools and political parties.

      This is something that some would not want to see light shining upon.

  3. So in order for the Israeli state to be secure it must replicate some of the tactics that eventually necessitated the formation of the Jewish state?

    • No, in order for the Jewish state to be secure, it must wait until the following comment about Palestinians is no longer true.
      “We will have peace with the Palestinians, when they love their own children more than they hate ours.”

      • Maybe if they stopped killing so many Palestinian children and bulldozing their homes to give the land to New York Jews.

        • No one would be killed if the Palestinians simply renounced terrorism, and actually were willing to accept the Jewish fact of the land. The Jews were there LONG before anyone even heard of a group called Palestininans.
          Palestinians today….are just the Egyptians and Jordanians and their offspring of the 1967 war.
          But never mind that….just go back to reading your “protocols….

          • How can the Palestinians be the terrorists when it’s the Israelis doing all the killing. The occupation is a war crime. I thought Jews were supposed to be against war crimes. Or are they against anyone’s but their own? What exactly does never again mean?

        • New York…Israel,
          Guess your views on Jewish people isn’t dependent upon geography, or addresses.
          No surprises there. Your problem with Jews isn’t with where they live…..it’s THAT they live.
          What if you got your wish Nite Owl? Who would you then turn to blame for your own failings?

      • I think it begins with Arabic speaking Israelis like Father Gabriel Nadaf, and Shahdi Halul.

        Generation after generation of hatred of the Jew has a deforming effect, and frankly I see another exodus taking place. This time, the exodus is away from being identified as an Arab. Roughly a hundred years ago, you had Arabs leave the Middle East.

  4. You cheap shot the Toronto Star with no substantiation and then refute your own criticism in the next paragraph. That would be considered incoherent rambling at last call in most taverns, never mind in a column published by a national news magazine.

    • Consider the source.

      • That’s right Nite Owl…consider the source.
        I am NOT an anti-semite….which ticks the Left off. I don’t want to be a part of THAT club.
        In a two sided conflict…..I’ll support the civilized group, not the Barbarians who like to blow up pizza parlours, or buses full of children.
        But hey…that’s just me.

        • And what of the hundreds of dead children from Cast Lead alone? Are they the wrong religion to matter to the likes of you?

          • If the Palestinians were concerend about their children, they wouldn’t place rocket lauchers beside schools, nor would they strap explosives around their chests and send them to pizza parlours.
            As the saying goes, ” We will have Peace with the Palesinians, when they learn to love their own children, more than they hate ours”
            Apparently, we are not there yet.

          • Would you prefer they act like Israeli Jews and kill from a safe distance?

          • Actually, I would prefer the palestinians to renounce terrorism, stop teaching their children that Jews are apes and pigs (I know it’s too late for you Nite Owl….but think of other children), and recognize the Israel has a right to exist.
            Jews tend to kill in self-defence only…….whereas the Palesinians like to kill. period.

          • How come Jews are not allowed to enter the dome of the rock?

            Not very neighbourly in my books.

        • And which side is doing that? Careful how you answer. Actually they both are.

        • No chance the divisions within the Palestinian community were brought about with a little shove from Israeli divide and conquer, counter-intelligence and a swamp of dis-information?
          Israel has a pipeline to N American media.
          Limiting a view of history and twisted fact makes for convenient to argument but it doesn’t change reality.
          Try a Jonathon-cook, journalist search, or…jfjfp.com.

    • Come on – everybody knows the agenda of the Toronto Star, they hate Rob Ford and Stephen Harper and Israel, so there should not be a need for a substantiation every time that fact is mentioned…..

      • KM….
        the folks who are NOT aware of the bias against Jews, Conservatives, or Stephen Harper in the Canadian media, are like fish in the water.
        They simply don’t know they are wet.

  5. “Israel was the world’s darling in 1968 and nothing fundamental has changed, ”
    Except that their cheap propaganda was pierced and the truth got out about them and their ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people from their homes.

    • Yes, because Israel elects muslim’s to parliament, recognizes the rights of gay muslims, and arab women; which are not supported by the REAL Palestinians…………is just awful.
      Yeah…that’s some genocide. Right up there with Hitler eh Nite Owl?

      Methinks your moral equivalence is showing……

      • Too bad they treat the “REAL” Palestinians so unethically.
        If they have received so much success for treating the Palestinians in Israel so well, then why would they not treat the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza strip the same?

  6. There are over 50 Arab states, with Islam as religion. There is one Jewish state. Israel is a democracy, and does not want to have an Arab majority – effectively making it another Arab state. The land of Israel makes up 0.2% of Arab land. Abbas and the western media reject the concept of a Jewish state – and there you have the whole problem….

  7. “Sharon’s home critics saw his withdrawals as part of a growing spiritual malaise.”..:
    Sharon’s,, “home critics”, were hard right zionist zealots.

  8. It feels cruel of Maclean’s to publish the rabblings of this mentally derranged person, just because she’s married to a famous criminal . A shameful state of journalism.

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