Ariel Sharon likes big things, like the “big bang” he unleashed on Israeli politics or the big war in Lebanon.
His big moves always start with a huge trumpet-blast: Brilliant moves, unaccompanied by detailed explanations about their nature or goals, and somehow it all ends with another entanglement.
It has happened again and again, from the bloody Mitla Pass battle to over-the-top paybacks to wild settlement in the territories to changing the political map. The sweeping moves remain clouded over (where is all this leading? What happens on the day after? How much will it all cost us?).
Only one thing is clear: We're going for it, big time.
But more than once, things haven't ended so well. The big moves, it turns out, are a bit less careful than originally promised during the optimistic first stage. The daring moves meant to loosen the ties binding us have only entangled them more and more.
After Arik moves, it turns out that there is something rather large left behind – the bill, one that we are forced to pay.
It's hard not to be amazed at the love that has gripped political commentators for Sharon following his latest move. Clearly, Sharon stands to benefit: He freed himself from his rebellious Knesset faction and is building himself a select group that includes one fox (Ehud Olmert), one jackal (Haim Ramon), and a long list of roosters (From Omri Sharon, at least until he moves from the Knesset to jail, to Eli Afflalo and Ruhama Avraham.)
For decoration, there are several political baby chicks, momentary "stars."
The new all-stars will have no ideology, be full of ambition and completely beholden to the Boss. Just the way Sharon likes it.
Good for democracy?
The question now is, why are we supposed to like it? Is Sharon good for democracy? Does he promise to deliver orderly, transparent government? Will he stand by his promises? Will he raise the standard of our politics? Will he encourage real debate? How about reorganized national priorities? The answer to each of these is "no."
Sharon's vision is conservative and anachronistic, just like his public record, the responsibility for which he now pins on Benjamin Netanyahu.
So just what is Sharon's magic in the eyes of the Israeli Center he has so disappointed? It seems that anything the prime minister does will be forgiven, thanks to his diplomatic platform.
This attitude is similar to the way the Israeli Center acted with Ehud Barak during his term in the Prime Minister's Office. Everything was forgiven – his arrogance, his obtuseness, the irregularities, his political schlemiel-ism – so long as he promised (no matter what became of those promises) to push forward with the "peace process."
Sharon now benefits from an Israeli public frustrated from shelling out credit, but now, the price of credit has come down a lot.
The withdrawal from Gaza (something that under normal circumstances would have been considered obvious) has turned the super-settler into a knight in shining armor for the peace camp.
It's enough for him to wink and hint that some day in the future, there may be no choice but to pull down a few more isolated settlements, and we are all ready to run after him, drunk with hope and prepared to overlook all the warning signs.
But when we refuse to follow Sharon's winks, we see a clear line defining his policy, one that says the Gaza disengagement was no exception, but was an essential part of his policy.
On a clear day, it's easy to see just where the “Big Band” is leading: It leads to the further establishment of the settlement enterprise and the closing of the narrow window of opportunity for a viable solution for us and the Palestinians.
Sharon has no intention in the foreseeable future to reach a final-status agreement with the Palestinians. His goal has always been, and remains, to stall for time in order to prevent a solution. Read advisor Dov Weisglass' statements again about Sharon's political vision.
The State of Israel will not survive another one of Sharon's smooth moves. The system must be changed, so that society, democracy and peace are woven together. Sharon cannot, and does not want, to propose such a solution.