Sunday, March 28, 2004


Jonathan Edelstein looks into the ramifications of the proposed Sharon indictment in the Greek island affair. I haven't follow this that closely, but think there's an implication for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process many in the West overlook. When Shikaki was here, he made the comment that most Arabs believe there will be no peace as long as Sharon is Prime Minister. There were no questions about that point (my own query was on Palestinian views of Barak's Camp David offer), but when I was in Jordan, I found a lot of enmity directed at Ariel Sharon specifically as the "Butcher of Sabra and Shatila" which was unrelated to his stance on current issues. Everyone basically regarded him as an unindicted war criminal, and one professor compared him to Slobodan Milosevic. The idea that he is more likely to conclude a peace deal than other leadership candidates is based on his current positioning compared to that of, say, Netanyahu. However, I don't think one can discount the idea that if Israel had a Prime Minister who didn't carry that kind of baggage, Arab leaders would be willing to go futher in engaging him/her. These sorts of perceptual issues do matter, as seen in the the publicity about Dean's anti-Iraq war stance got him labelled as the peacenik candidate, or the way Americans are unmoved by our government's working with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan when doing so with Saddam or Castro for the same reasons would have generated outcry.

This is based on anecdote, but might be worth considering. I doubt any Israeli leader would be widely loved in the Arab world, but level and tone of anti-Sharonism was striking.


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