Politicide: Ariel Sharon's War against the Palestinians
by Baruch Kimmerling
London: Verso Books, 2003. 234 pp. $22.
Reviewed by Steven Plaut
Middle East Quarterly
In Politicide, Kimmerling—on his own, this time—takes up ideas from The Palestinian People (see above) and carries them to yet greater extremes. Kimmerling's message is that Israel has been transformed into a single-purpose country, whose raison d'être is "politicide," by which he means the destruction of the Palestinian nation. He calls Israel a "Herrenvolk Republic," a state based on presumptions of Jews being a master race, the use of the German term implying Israel is morally equivalent to Nazi Germany. He also denounces Israel as a "Thatcherist and semi-fascist regime," intent on putting Palestinians in South African-style Bantustans under the guise of a two-state solution. In some places, Kimmerling's presentation of Palestinian atrocities and terrorism virtually casts them as legitimate acts of protest against the desperate condition and injustices of Palestinian life.
But above all, Politicide is a blustering ad hominem attack on Ariel Sharon. For Kimmerling, Sharon is the epitome of all that is evil, a Middle Eastern Richard III. Kimmerling's demonization of Sharon is so wild that it is doubtful anything of value about Sharon's actual failings and shortcomings can sensibly be extracted by reading the book. He is an "agent of destruction," someone who endorses ethnic cleansing of Arabs has a history of committing acts of wanton violence as part of a personal vendetta against Arabs. For Kimmerling, Sharon is simply a war criminal.
Kimmerling is only mildly less venomous when it comes to the Israeli Left, which he regards as cowardly and insufficiently militant. Apparently it is insufficiently anti-Zionist for his tastes. He takes the Left to task for being too moderate, for not resorting to civil disobedience, and for lacking an "up-to-date political agenda," which presumably would be the "one-state solution" now in vogue among Israeli self-flagellants. The leftist Meretz party is particularly denounced for remaining inside the "holy national consensus."
Yes, there is a political entity in the Middle East whose entire raison d'être is the destruction of another nation. But it is called the Palestine Liberation Organization (or now, the Palestinian Authority). The Arab-Israeli conflict is indeed all about attempted politicide, but Kimmerling has perpetrator and intended victim exactly reversed.
Related Topics: Arab-Israel conflict & diplomacy, Israel & Zionism, Palestinians | Steven Plaut | Summer 2004 MEQ
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