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Monday, November 28, 2005 

Unity with Netanyahu is important, as well as focussing on Sharon's corruption

In Caroline Glick's latest column, she discusses some very good and important points surrounding Ariel Sharon's betrayal of the Likud party, something he may have been planning on as early as February 2005, and also, that his own approach is similar in some ways to the former Boy President Bill Clinton's own style when he was in office, a far cry from the Reagan administration of yore:
Sharon, like Clinton, has been consistent in making the consolidation and extension of his political power his singular goal as Israel's leader. This self-obsession is in many ways his most valuable political asset. It enables him to adopt policies and take steps that no politician who is concerned primarily with substantive matters like the welfare of the nation or even the political fortunes of his political party or political base would ever consider adopting. The direct and perverse result of Sharon's egocentric maneuverings is that while his position and popularity - internationally and in Israel - have never been stronger, the State of Israel has never been weaker or more derided in the international community and in the Middle East.

While Reagan transformed American politics by inspiring Americans themselves to take risks and rise to the many challenges they faced as individuals and as a country in the 1980s, Sharon has entrenched his own power by lulling Israelis into a sense of powerlessness and indifference. This he has done in two ways. First, Sharon has cultivated a persona that puts him above and at a distance from the regular Israeli "masses." In his rare public statements, Sharon has never encouraged Israelis to rise to the challenges they face. He speaks mostly of himself and his self-perceived greatness while promising his people "quiet" and "stability" - things they can expect to receive by simply keeping their heads down.

In his press conference last Sunday evening when he announced he was abandoning the Likud, for instance, Sharon used the word "stability" four times and "quiet" twice in a 10-minute address. Sharon spent the first three minutes of the speech talking about his past and the rest of the speech was devoted to castigating the Likud for daring to challenge his judgment.
This, if you ask me, is also a textbook example of how not to conduct a political campaign, by showing no thanks to his former party, and by disrespecting their positions. Or, in other words, contempt.

To make matters worse, the following should point out quite well that Sharon is being very untruthful in what campaign he intends to run, and that he's quite likely to make even more bad decisions:
The fact that Likud's policies retain the support of the majority of Israelis is exposed by Sharon's need today to lie about his diplomatic plans. Sharon's campaign is based upon his pledge that he will enact no further unilateral withdrawals in Judea and Samaria. And yet, his own party members like former Labor MK Haim Ramon openly indicate that Sharon is lying and will move to carry out such withdrawals if he is elected. Ramon said in a TV interview Wednesday that Sharon will unilaterally withdraw to final borders in Judea and Samaria if Palestinian terror continues.
And what logic is there in retreating when the terrorists will most certainly continue beyond even the retreat Sharon makes from those areas? As Netanyahu pointed out some time ago, Strella missiles can and have been smuggled into those PLO strongholds.

Here's some more to think about concerning the Sharons' corruption:
In 2003, Sharon, who was then the subject of two criminal probes, was able to neutralize the issue of corruption mainly because the legal elites overplayed their hand, making the public believe Sharon's protestations that he was being victimized. Today such arguments cannot succeed. Today Sharon runs for reelection when at his side stands his son, MK Omri Sharon - a convicted felon. Omri now awaits sentencing for his conviction this month on charges of perjury and fraud that could land him in jail for several years. Omri committed all of his crimes as his father's campaign manager in 1999 and 2001. Today Omri is a candidate for the Knesset in his father's new party and remains Sharon's closest political adviser. Sharon himself remains the focus of the Cyril Kern-Martin Schlaf corruption probe.

In addition to his son's criminality and criminal allegations against Sharon himself, Sharon has proven himself to be one of the most deceitful political leaders Israel has ever had. His current pledge not to enact further unilateral withdrawals and expulsions is nothing less than a new example of his contempt for voters. There can be no doubt that he is lying today just as he lied three years ago when he ran on a platform of rejecting unilateral withdrawals and expulsions from Gaza.
Omri, as far as I'm concerned, should be expelled from the Knesset, and deservedly so. While as for Ariel, he too should retire from politics, and relieve himself of the strain.

That aside, it's interesting to note that the Israeli MSM may not be as supportive of Sharon's new party, now called "Forward", as even he may be hoping. As One Jerusalem points out:
The Left wing Israeli press (which means all the major news outlets) are more and more critical of Sharon. While Sharon spearheaded Israel's pull-out from Gaza the press protected Sharon. Now, with a rejuvinated Labour Party, there are daily stories highlighting Sharon's dark side.

Yesterday, for example, a major newspaper ran a story declaring Sharon the most corrupt politican in Israel. There are also questions about how could a father allow his son the take the fall for him. The press is helping Labour headed by someone who makes it very clear that he supports Israel being pushed back to the 1967 borders.
The following opinion column from Yediot Ahronot, a left-wing newspaper, written by Mordecai Gilat, a left-wing writer, can certainly attest to that:
The Israeli public will be asked to decide on March 28 between two difficult choices: Which party is more corrupt – the new one, created by Ariel Sharon and his son Omri, or the Likud party that Sharon was forced to flee at the last minute?

At first glance, it is tough to decide which option is correct. On the one hand, Sharon himself has a long history of incidents; his son Omri has been convicted on charges of bribery and perjury; MKs Ruhama Avraham and Eli Aflalo have been accused of improper dealings with the Agrexco Corporation, and then there is Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra and several other power-hungry types. It’s a real all-star team.

On the other hand, there is no shortage over in the Likud, either: There's Benjamin Netanyahu’s Amedi affair, Tzahi Hanegbi and his "Successful Way" foundation, which is the unquestioned king of political appointments; MK Naomi Blumenthal and her corruption case, MKs Michael Gorlovsky and Yehiel Hazan and their false voting cases, MK Ehud Yatom and other saints.

But at the end of the day, the Kadima Party wins, hands down: Deceiving the attorney general, perjury, the millions of dollars the Sharon family has taken from private businessmen trying to advance their interests, the Cyril Kern case and silencing of key witnesses are more serious than that the goings-on in Likud.
So there's quite a hard-hitting example of a left-wing journalist who's taken on Sharon and his new party, and why? Simply put, because Kadima's quite likely to take votes from the left, including the Labor party. As of now, even Amir Peretz is beginning to attack Sharon, and indeed, he'll have to.

At the same time, however, it should be noted that Gilad himself was one of many who were trying to smear Netanyahu at the time for trumped up accusations that were never proven, including the Amedi affair. So at the same time, it's actually rather hypocritical that Gilad should be taking this kind of a stance now.

In any case, regarding the charges against the Sharons, when one thinks about it some more, it isn't that hard to see that Sharon's corruption charges are going to stick very heavily during this campaign, ditto for a lot of the other people he's recruited for his new party, including Tzipi Livni and Chaim Ramon. As Gilad explains here, when looking for ways to whitewash all the corruption:
They hung Justice Minister Tzipi Livni out to dry after she lost her standing over a spat about the judges nomination committee, relying instead on the fabulous Chaim Ramon. At the very least, he knows how to talk.

What? Chaim Ramon is supposed to whitewash the deeds of the Sharon family? He's the test rabbit in Operation Clean Hands? The same guy who orchestrated the "filthy maneuver" in the early 1990s – that ugly move that stole the election from Yitzhak Shamir and gave it to Shimon Peres – he's the great savior? The man hated by so many Labor voters for what he did to the Histadrut labor federation will bring them around to vote for Sharon? Has someone in the new party forgotten to do his homework?
Apparently.

Like I said, when thought about some more, Sharon and his son's corruption, past and present, ditto that of those running with him is going to be a major problem throughout this campaign, and one sure thing, it most certainly is going to hang overhead like a very big cloud.

And, as Caroline Glick says, it's important to unite behind Netanyahu, in order to confront Sharon effectively.

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