The making of a myth

Israeli linguist Tanya Reinhart has just released her new book, Roadmap to Nowhere. She explains how Ariel Sharon was transformed in the international community:

One of the questions in the book is how it happened that Sharon, the most brutal, cynical, racist and manipulative leader Israel has ever had, ended his political career as a legendary peace hero? The answer, I argue, is that Sharon has never changed. Rather, the birth of the Sharon myth reflects the present omnipotence of the propaganda system in manufacturing consciousness.

During his four years in office, Sharon stalled any chance of negotiations with the Palestinians. In 2003 – the road map period -the Palestinians accepted the plan and declared a cease fire, but while the Western world was celebrating the new era of peace, the Israeli army, under Sharon, intensified its policy of assassinations, maintained the daily harassment of the occupied Palestinians, and eventually declared an all-out-war on Hamas, killing all its first rank of military and political leaders. Later, as the Western world was holding its breath again, in a year and a half of waiting for the planned Gaza pullout, Sharon did everything possible to fail the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, who was elected in January 2005. Sharon declared that Abbas is not a suitable partner (because he does not fight terror) and turned down all his offers of renewed negotiations.

The daily reality of the Palestinians in the occupied territories was never as grim as in the period of Sharon.

During parts of this period, Israel was praised by many Western powers for its generosity towards the Palestinians. As usual, it was a sham and the daily brutality of the occupation continued.

For a fascinating insight into Palestinian identity, this conversation between two Arab intellectuals is essential.