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Jewish World Review Feb. 12, 2001/ 19 Shevat, 5761

Suzanne Fields

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Ariel Sharon, not by Steven Spielberg -- ARIEL SHARON rides to the rescue. Ehud Barak was willing to transfer sovereignty of east Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, and maybe Israel, to the Palestinians. Not Sharon.

Ariel Sharon, now 72, was a half-century ago symbolic of the New Jew, tough and leathery, ready to fight for rough justice in a mean world. He emerged on the scene when the classic image of the Jew was still of a brainy guy without muscles, the 97-pound weakling who was forever getting sand kicked in his face because he didn't know how to fight. He could be passively cunning, but not physically courageous.

"Schindler's List,'' the popular movie about the Holocaust made by Steven Spielberg nearly a decade ago, reinforced that stereotype. The hero was a heroic Nazi con man (not easy to find) with a big physique who liberated Jews who couldn't help themselves.

Sharon, in contrast, was born on an agriculture collective near Tel Aviv (nothing effete there) and fought bravely in the War of Independence in 1948, in the Six Day War in 1967 and in the Yom Kippur War in 1973. He was among the first of the new breed of defiant Jews, the Israeli soldiers we came to admire, who were running against type. For me he was like Hank Greenberg, the Jewish baseball player of my childhood whom sportswriters called Hammerin' Hank and Jewish fans called "the Moses of baseball.'' He stood tall, carried a big stick and his team usually won.

Although Ehud Barak was a decorated commander, he lost all credibility as he restored the image of a Jewish leader whose power resides in weakness. In his attempt to make peace at almost any price, he disgusted even the doves in his party, many of whom stayed home because they couldn't vote for Sharon and wouldn't vote for Barak. The only forward step Barak took was to show all Israelis -- and the rest of the world-- that Arafat had no intention of accepting even the much-too-generous peace package Barak offered.

With Sharon, it's a whole new ball game. He can be like Richard Nixon in China, a man from so far on the other side that his own side trusts him to negotiate unlikely change. We know he won't give away the Temple Mount. He has a small house in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City.

Adding toughness to symbolism, Sharon has so far refused to shake hands with Arafat. Yet, after his landslide election, Arafat wrote to the prime minister-elect, congratulating him and offering peace talks: "Our hands will continue to be held out to make peace because both sides expect it.'' (Let's hope those hands aren't concealing a knife or a grenade.) Sharon, unlike Barak, demands "realistic peace.''

Barak's humiliating defeat further exposes Bill Clinton's failures of foreign policy. Both Clinton and Barak pushed negotiations too fast and too far, showing greater concern for (begin ital) their (end ital) futures than for Israel's. Clinton wanted a legacy and Barak wanted re-election. Neither got what he wanted most. Clinton, in his zeal to be an "honest broker'' for peace, lost an important opportunity to condemn the Palestinian intifada, which in turn put the "peace process'' in jeopardy. He gave the Palestinians no incentive to end the violence.

The new Bush administration promises close cooperation with the new Sharon government, but with a greater equanimity than the previous administration.

"This is a time to be patient,'' says Secretary of State Colin Powell, "to give the winner an opportunity to decide what kind of government will be formed. ... Jawboning is pretty much all we can do right now, and hope the leaders in the region recognize the absolute importance in controlling the passions, in controlling the emotions.''

Sharon has lots of enemies inside and outside Israel. He is a flawed leader who has made mistakes. The War in Lebanon was particularly divisive. Saul Singer, a columnist for the Jerusalem Post (who lost a brother in Lebanon), reminds us and everybody else that "Israel's governments may have acted with lesser or greater wisdom, but always with the legitimacy granted by our democratic system.'' That's the reality that gives Ariel Sharon a chance to make real peace.


02/07/01: Profaning the sacred with the political
02/05/01: What's the Creator got to do with it?
02/01/01: Live like the snopses, leave like the snopses
01/29/01: It's education, stupid
01/25/01: "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows"
01/22/01: Poetry and religion in the Bush administration
01/18/01: Ashcroft can't dance (don't ask him)
01/15/01: Clothes make the First Lady
01/11/01: Pity Jerusalem in the 'peace' process
01/08/01: Laying the political race card
01/04/01: 'What women want' in the new millennium
01/02/01: This year, looking ahead is sure sweeter than looking back
12/21/00: Black power with a Republican face
12/21/00: First impressions of two First Ladies
12/18/00: Challenge for the 'better angels of our nature'
12/14/00: What we've lost sight of
12/13/00: Hillary in the lion's den
12/08/00: Return of the 'second sex' on campus
12/04/00: Politics as entertainment today
11/30/00: Winner vs. whiner
11/27/00: Measuring against history
11/23/00: Memories of Thanksgiving past
11/17/00: In defense of the Electoral College
11/16/00: More than one way to win an election
11/13/00: Sexual politics squared
11/09/00: A Middle East legacy
11/06/00: Filling in the dots at campaign's end
11/02/00: His own man in full
10/30/00: The Oval Office, through a glass brightly
10/23/00: There'll always be an England. Maybe.
10/19/00: The celebrity candidate
10/16/00: 'Ladies night' at the second debate
10/12/00: Gore vs. Bush: Volvo vs. Maserati
10/10/00: We weep for Rami for he is dead
10/05/00: Looking at Lieberman from inside the 'ghetto'
10/02/00: Campaigns, candidates, and kissy-face
09/28/00: Laughing and crying over Joe Lieberman
09/21/00: Targeting teenagers for money
09/21/00: Sexual politics in New York
09/18/00: Surviving the stereotypes and debates
09/14/00: Gloria Steinem runs cheerfully into captivity
09/12/00: Sex in the eye of the partisan
09/07/00: 'Sex and death' on the college campus
09/05/00: Joe Lieberman as a 'Menorah Man'
08/31/00: Rising suns of the conventions
08/17/00: Changing icons: From Loretta Young to Hillary Clinton
08/14/00: The Creator returns to the public square
08/10/00: Bursting with pride, but caution too
08/07/00: Brains, beauty and beastly politics
08/03/00: A candidate with a superego
07/31/00: The sizzling Lynne Cheney
07/27/00: The party of the aging Playboys
07/24/00 Hillary drives the Jewish wagon into a ditch
07/20/00 Conservatives gone fishin'
07/17/00: Snoop Doggy Dogg was a founding father, wasn't he?
07/13/00: When a teenager doesn't need a prime minister
07/10/00: Abortion as cruel and unusual punishment
07/06/00: Surviving 'survivor' TV
07/03/00: Independence Day with Norman Rockwell
06/29/00: Here comes 'something old'
06/26/00: Waiting too long for the baby
06/22/00: Good teachers, curious students and oxymorons
06/19/00: Wanted: Some ants for Gore's pants
06/15/00: Like father, like daughter
06/12/00: Culture wars and conservative warriors
06/08/00: Return of the housewife
06/05/00: Hillary and Al -- playing against type
05/31/00: The sexual revolution confronts the SUV
05/25/00: Waiting for the movie
05/22/00: Pistol packin' mamas
05/18/00: Journalists and the 'new time' religion
05/15/00: There's nothing like a (military) dame
05/11/00: 'The Human Stain' on campus
05/09/00: We've come a long way, Betty Friedan
05/04/00: From George Washington to Mansa Masu
05/01/00: Gore's ruthless doublespeak
04/28/00: Doing it Castro's way
04/24/00: Women's studies beget narrow minds
04/17/00: The slippery slope of anti-Semitism
04/13/00: A villain larger than life
04/10/00: When mourning becomes an economic tragedy
04/03/00: The last permissible bigotry
03/30/00: Seeking the political Oscar
03/23/00: The gaying of America
03/20/00: Pointy-eared quadrupeds on campus
03/16/00: The shocking art of the establishment
03/13/00: Sawdust on the campaign trail
03/10/00: Campaign rhetoric of manhood
03/06/00: The Amphetamine of the People
03/02/00: Elegy for Amadou
02/29/00: With only a million, what's a poor girl to do?
02/24/00: The changing politics of change
02/16/00: Tip from Hillary: 'Let 'em eat eggs'
02/10/00: No seances with Eleanor
02/07/00: Campaigning like our founding fathers
02/03/00: When neo-Nazis have short memories
01/31/00: George W. -- 'Ladies man' and 'man's man'
01/27/00: Dead white males and live white politicians
01/25/00: Smarting over presidential smarts
01/21/00: A post-modern song for `The Sopranos'
01/19/00: When personality is a long-distance plus
01/13/00: French lessons in amour --- and marriage
01/10/00: Reaching for the Big Golden Apple
01/07/00: Liddy Dole as the face of feminism
01/04/00: Hillary: From victim to victor
12/30/99: 'Dream catchers' for the millennium
12/27/99: In search of a candidate with strength and eloquence
12/21/99: The president as First Lady
12/16/99: Columbine with blurred hindsight
12/09/99: Homeless deserve discriminating attention
12/07/99: Casual censors and deadly know-nothings
12/02/99: Why mom didn't make general: A reality tale
11/30/99: Potholes on the road to the Promised Land
11/25/99: A feast for the spirit and the stomach
11/23/99: Fathers need to say 'I (can) do'
11/18/99: Adventures of a conservative pundit
11/15/99: Traveling with Jefferson on the information highway
11/11/99: Wanted: 'Foliage of forbiddinness' for the oval office
11/09/99: Eggs, art and rotten commerce
11/05/99: Al Gore, 'Alpha Male'. Bow wow.
11/01/99: Gay love
10/28/99: Lose one Dole, lose two
10/26/99: Rebels with a violent cause
10/21/99: Reforming parents, reforming schools
10/19/99: The male mystique -- he shops
10/13/99:The campaign of the Teletubbies
10/08/99: Money is in the eye of the art dealer
10/01/99: Lincoln's 'Almost Chosen People'
09/29/99: Introducing Bill and Hillary Bickerson
09/27/99: Must we wait for the next massacre?
09/24/99: Miss America meets Miss'd America
09/21/99: Princeton's 'professor death'
09/16/99: The Cisneros lesson
09/13/99: No clemency for personal politics
09/08/99: M-M-M is for manhood
08/30/99: Blocking the schoolhouse door
08/27/99: No kick from cocaine
08/23/99: Movies don't kill people
08/19/99: A rude awakening
08/16/99: Dubyah and that 'language' thing
08/09/99: Chauvinist sows -- oink oink

©1999, Suzanne Fields. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate