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A Machiavellian Analysis of Ariel Sharon


ARIEL SHARON puzzles Israelis. Yesterday the Right portrayed the aged warrior as a hero; today the Right portrays him as a villain. Indeed, one critic called him Labor’s surrogate prime minister! Sharon is many things to many people. What confuses their perspectives is that the variable and “visible Sharon” obscures the “concealed Sharon.” We begin with the former.

In evaluating an Israeli prime minister, two criteria come immediately to mind: whether he has augmented Israel’s security, and whether he has elevated Israel’s dignity. Given these criteria, Ariel Sharon probably ranks as Israel’s worst prime minister. However, if Israeli prime ministers are evaluated in terms of their friendship with the president of the United States, Mr. Sharon ranks among the best.

The trouble is that cultivating the friendship of an American president can lead to the submissiveness of an Israeli prime minister, the more readily if he regards that friendship, as does Ariel Sharon, as Israel’s greatest asset. Such a prime minister will then be tempted and then become habituated to subordinate Israel’s security and dignity to that friendship. This has in fact been the result of Ariel Sharon’s courtship of President George W. Bush, the price of which ranks Sharon as Israel’s worst prime minister! I am alluding to the Jewish blood and pride that Mr. Sharon has sacrificed for his “friendship” with America’s president.


Ariel Sharon was elected prime minister of Israel on February 6, 2001 by a landslide victory over Ehud Barak. That victory may be attributed to two basic facts. Prime Minister Barak, contrary to an overwhelming majority of the Knesset, and in prima facie violation of Israeli law, offered Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority no less than 95 percent of Judea and Samaria, including eastern Jerusalem, all of which, together with Gaza, would constitute the territory of a Palestinian state. Not only did Arafat say no to this incredible offer, but on September 29, 2000, he launched a barbaric war of terror against the Jewish state.

Accordingly, Sharon’s landslide victory in the February 6, 2001 election was a clear mandate to put an end to that terror, which logically required Sharon to uproot and eliminate Arafat’s Palestinian Authority and its terrorist network. Indeed, it was Prime Minister Sharon’s plain duty to win that war as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, and despite the awesome power of the Israel Defense Forces, the war continues. Indeed, as of this writing, more than 900 Jewish men, women, and children have been murdered under Sharon’s premiership—far more than the total number of Jews murdered under his four predecessors. This Jewish bloodshed may be attributed to Sharon’s policy of self-restraint against Arab terrorism, a policy that prolongs the war and attracts the daily attention of mankind.

The worldwide explosion of anti-Semitism that has occurred during Sharon’s reign is not a coincidence. Instead of destroying Arafat’s Palestinian Authority and its terrorist gangs in one swift and overwhelming attack—which the IDF could have accomplished before or immediately after 9/11 in one or two weeks—Sharon has resorted to intermittent “targeted killings,” brief incursions into terrorist strongholds, and cease fires (Hudnas) which have enabled the PA to obtain and manufacture more and deadlier weapons. By engaging the PA in a protracted war, Sharon allowed Arafat to set the rules of engagement. Consequently, a steady stream of video clips of death and destruction, distorting Israel’s response to Arab massacres of Jews, emerged from Palestinian-controlled territory. Those video clips—thanks to Sharon’s failure to crush the PA at the very outset of his premiership—were used by the media and Muslims throughout the world to inflame anti-Semitism and demonize Israel. Contrast Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War: that extraordinary victory won the admiration of mankind.

I have been speaking of the “visible Sharon.” However, in forming his government after the February 2001 election, a clue to the “concealed Sharon” appeared when he appointed Oslo’s architect and Arafat’s apologist Shimon Peres as his foreign minister. With that appointment Sharon ingratiated himself with President Bush, and, at the same time, assured everyone that Israel’s government would pay the premiums for Arafat’s life insurance on the one hand, and thus tolerate the murder of an “acceptable” number of Jews on the other. Sharon even admitted in an interview with The Jerusalem Post (September 26, 2002) that it would be “wrong” to destroy the PA or pursue a policy of zero tolerance for Arab terrorism. “Self-restraint is strength” became the catchphrase of Israel’s erstwhile warrior.

This inanity pleased President Bush and cemented his friendship with Sharon. But now we must ask: What might people think of the Jewish state when its prime minister, despite the power of the IDF, frequently refrained from responding to Arab massacres of Jews? Is it any wonder that a French ambassador compared Israel to excrement, and must we not blame Israel’s prime minister for that unspeakable insult?

This said, I must now document how Jewish humiliation and bloodshed have been the price of Ariel Sharon’s “friendship” with George W. Bush. For this purpose I shall use, as my primary source, The Secret History of the Iraq War (2004), whose author, Yosef Bodansky, has been the director of the U.S. Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare for more than a decade.


Ariel Sharon became Israel’s prime minister less than a month after Mr. Bush was officially inaugurated President of the United States in mid-January 2001. Hence 9/11 and the U.S.-led war against Iraq saw both of these men at the helm of their respective countries. Bodansky’s book contains devastating evidence of what Sharon’s “friendship” with President Bush has cost Israel.

In the fall of 2002, Israel’s Mosad was engaged in an investigation that involved the intelligence services of more than six countries. “The investigators’ findings,” writes Bodansky, “provided the ‘smoking gun’ supporting the [Bush] administration’s insistence on Iraq’s centrality to global terrorism, the availability of operational weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and proof of the close cooperation between Iraqi military intelligence and al-Queda.”

The data accumulated during this investigation could have provided the casus belli—the justification for war—and urgent imperative to take on Saddam Hussein. Yet in the first of several indecisive and self-contradicting political maneuvers, the Bush administration preferred to accommodate [British Prime Minister Tony] Blair’s pressure to keep Israel at arm’s length, not implicate Arafat [who was working strategically with Saddam], and placate Blair’s fellow West European leaders rather than go public with the findings of the investigation. Despite mounting international criticism and skepticism in the media, the American public was not presented with one of the strongest and most explicit justifications for the war with Iraq (p. 51).

Publication of the Arafat/Saddam/al-Queda “axis of evil” would not only have facilitated the war against Saddam’s dictatorship; it would also have compelled Bush to give Sharon the green light to eliminate Arafat’s Palestinian dictatorship. Actually, Sharon was given that green light even before the Arafat/Saddam/al-Queda nexus was exposed by Israeli intelligence! In The High Cost of Peace, Bodansky refers to a July 8, 2002 White House briefing in which the president was asked whether he was “perfectly comfortable” to have the Israeli army in Arab towns in the “West Bank” and Gaza. Bush’s answer was explicit: “I would hope that everybody got the message that we all have responsibilities to fight off terrorist attacks, yeah.” Moreover, the Bush administration, says Bodansky, was not shy about its hopes for the removal of Arafat and his coterie:

In late June, a very senior member of the Bush White House privately told a senior Israel minister that the administration “would not shed a tear if you [Israel] get rid of Arafat.” And on July 11, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice told Israel’s Channel 2 TV News that the Bush administration resolved that the entire PA leadership should be replaced, and not just Arafat, before a meaningful quest for peace should start. “It’s not just a question of one man,” Rice said, “it’s an entire political regime that needs to be changed, so that one man does not control the lives of the entire population.”

Unfortunately, Sharon had other ideas. He not only advocated a Palestinian state at least two years before Mr. Bush’s election in November 2000, but it may well be that America’s newly elected president’s outspoken and unprecedented advocacy of a Palestinian state was prompted by Israel’s newly elected prime minister! Here we begin to reveal the “concealed Sharon.”

The July 11 statement of Condoleezza Rice clearly indicates that Sharon’s policy of self-restraint vis-à-vis the Palestinian Authority has not been the consequence or the sole consequence of American pressure. Sharon believed and still believes that he needs the PA and that the PA needs him, to negotiate and create a Palestinian state that would fulfill his historic ambition to establish, at last, “peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs.” This was the dream he expressed in September 2000 while walking on the Temple Mount—the perambulation that triggered, or provided the pretext for, Arafat’s war against the Jews!

However, given, on the one hand, profound opposition to a Palestinian state by most Israelis—as revealed by serious and not superficial and tendentious polls —and given, on the other hand, the PA’s insistence on the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees, which of course would terminate the Jewish state, Sharon needed Bush and Bush needed Sharon to overcome this dilemma.

Quite apart from any American pressure, therefore, Sharon’s personal ambition prevented him from destroying the Palestinian Authority, which means, however, that hundreds of Jews have been sacrificed on the altar of that ambition, the fulfillment of which required the “friendship” of George W. Bush.

It follows that had Sharon exposed the strategic cooperation between Arafat and Saddam Hussein—and Israeli intelligence knew of this cooperation before American intelligence—public pressure to eliminate Arafat and the Palestinian Authority would have been irresistible. Sharon would have had to destroy the PA, shattering his dream in the process.

Returning to The Secret History of the Iraq War, Bodansky writes:

On the night of September 13, 2002, Israeli Special Forces intercepted and captured a three-man squad attempting to cross the Jordan River and enter Palestinian territories [sic] on their way to Arafat’s compound in Ramallah. Their interrogation revealed that they were highly trained members of the Baghdad-based Arab Liberation Front (ALF), sent to conduct spectacular strikes under the banner of Arafat’s Fatah. Specifically, they were dispatched by ALF Chief Muhammad Zaidan Abbas, better visible as Abu-al-Abbas, to operate directly under the control of Tawfiq Tirawi, chief of the Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence Service and Arafat’s closest confidant….
The three ALF terrorists were trained for several missions, including an operation that involved shoulder-fired missiles to shoot down civilian airliners as they approached Ben-Gurion Airport and using anti-tank rockets and missiles to ambush convoys—including American groupings on their way to Iraq. They were also to organize and train Palestinian terrorists … The three had been briefed in Baghdad that they would get the missiles, heavy weapons, and explosives they might need from Fatah via Tirawi. The Israel interrogators were most interested in what the three had to say about their training … at Salman Pak—a major base near Baghdad—by members of Unit 999 of Iraqi military intelligence. They recounted that in an adjacent part of the camp, other teams of Unit 999 were preparing a select group of Islamist terrorists specifically identified as members of al-Queda….
The three ALF terrorists told the Israelis that … the Islamists also received elaborate training with chemical weapons and poisons, specifically [the extremely potent poison] ricin. Moreover [the Israeli interrogators learned from the ALF terrorists that] Islamist detachments traveled to Turkey, where they were to strike American bases with chemical weapons once the war [on Iraq] started….
Within a week of the capture of the ALF trio, a delegation of senior Israeli intelligence officers traveled to Washington to brief the White House about their findings (pp. 51-53).

Since President Bush was hard-pressed to justify going to war with Iraq, one would think that his administration would readily publicize Israel’s intelligence data. To the contrary! The White House, says Bodansky, “was reluctant to advertise this evidence because it demonstrated Israeli intelligence’s major contribution to the war on terrorism” (p. 53). Bodansky’s conclusion is inadequate, when, at issue, was the overriding need of the White House was to justify going to war against Iraq. Let us reconstruct the situation with Bodansky’s own findings.

Saddam was certain that the Bush administration was bent on war, a war the Iraqi tyrant knew he could not win on the battlefield. The challenge confronting Saddam was how to derail or hinder the war, and, failing this, how to wage a war of attrition once the Americans occupied Iraq—in other words, how could he transform Iraq into Vietnamese quagmire?

Early in 2002—a year before the March 2003 invasion of the U.S.-led coalition forces—Saddam ordered about a third of Iraq’s arsenal, particularly weapons suitable for protracted guerrilla warfare, be hidden throughout Iraq in desolate spots visible only to himself, his son Qusay, and his private secretary, Abid Hamid Humad (p. 5). Of course it was more urgent to derail and disrupt the war. For this purpose Saddam needed Arafat and the Palestinian Authority to distract the United States and even provoke a regional conflagration.

As Saddam surely knew, it had always been Arafat’s objective (long before Oslo) to provoke a regional war by inducing Israel to “over-react” to PLO terrorism. It is in this light that we are to understand Saddam’s financial donations to the families of suicide bombers as well as his providing the PLO-led Palestinian Authority with ALF terrorists to launch a mega attack on Israel.

Imagine the consequences for Israel and the magnitude of Israel’s military response had ALF-trained Palestinian terrorists shot down civilian airliners approaching Ben-Gurion airport. Sharon’s policy of self-restraint would have given way immediately to a devastating ground invasion and air attack on Arab towns in Gaza and the “West Bank.” But much the same would have followed publication of Israel’s intelligence data concerning the Arafat/Saddam/al-Queda axis. Surely publication of that intelligence would not only have silenced President Bush’s advocacy of a Palestinian state; it would also have prompted the president to call for the complete dismantling of the Palestinian Authority. However, dismantling the PA might cause a regional war and of course an oil embargo—or so Mr. Bush might fear.

Sharon himself often warned of the possibility of a regional war to silence those in his cabinet who openly advocated (and still advocate) destruction of the PA. I believe that Sharon’s warning was unfounded if not a bogeyman. No Arab country came to the PLO’s defense when it was expelled from Lebanon in 1982, and none would risk a devastating Israeli attack for the sake of the PA once its collusion with Saddam had publicly aroused the ire of President Bush.

Besides, elimination of the PA would enhance Israel’s deterrent power, sadly diminished by its ignominious retreat from southern Lebanon and Sharon’s feeble and intermittent retaliation against Arab terror. But then, as indicated above, crushing the PA would terminate Sharon’s ambition of being the author of a Palestinian state that would live in genuine peace with Israel. Hence it was necessary for Sharon to hush up the Palestinian Authority’s involvement with Iraqi terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, while encouraging the Bush administration to put an end to Saddam’s regime, which posed a threat to Israel’s existence.


Throughout 2002 and before it launched its attack on Iraq in March 2003, the United States sought to gain the cooperation of various Arab regimes. The attempt was futile and revealed the ignorance of the Bush administration even about pro-American Arab states. The example of Saddam’s elimination could not but threaten the autocratic nature of these states. Besides, “For the Saudis, any semblance of cooperating with the United States in the occupation and destruction of Baghdad—regardless of the fact that they hated Saddam Hussein—was sacrilegious” (p. 62). Moreover, U.S. occupation of oil-rich Iraq and the establishment of a pro-American Iraqi government would undermine Saudi influence and importance in Washington. This also applies to Egypt, a key player in the Middle East.
Despite these obvious facts, the Bush administration, while preparing for “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” warned Sharon not to do anything once the war started “even if Iraq launched missiles at the tiny state”! Jews were expected to bleed for their big American friend. And bleed they did. Some 120 Jews had to be murdered by Palestinian terrorists in March 2002 before Sharon screwed up enough courage to launch “Operation Defensive Shield.” That operation, moreover, was terminated before the IDF could complete its mission to destroy Arab bomb factories, for example in Jenin, the venue of Arafat’s “martyrs.” Jews had to be reduced to body parts to placate the United States, or rather, to preserve Ariel Sharon’s “friendship” with George W. Bush.

But as already implied, Sharon needed Bush to transform the Palestinian Authority into a “negotiating partner,” without which Sharon’s message from the Temple Mount, of “peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs,” would be nothing more than pious rhetoric. In other words, Sharon’s submissiveness to Washington did not necessarily conflict with his ambition to be the architect of a Palestinian state. On the other hand, inasmuch as Sharon told the newspaper Yediot Aharanot, “It is impossible to say no to our big friend [the United States],” one may wonder whether he would require Washington’s permission to respond to a biological missile attack on Tel Aviv?

Bodansky’s account of U.S.-Israel relations immediately before and during the Iraq war reveals Sharon as a rather pathetic figure. Thus, after a mid-October 2002 meeting with Bush who called Sharon a “close friend” and affirmed Israel’s right to self-defense, “Sharon came out of the Oval Office,” writes Bodansky, “deeply insulted and personally hurt when, at the last minute, a six-page ‘position paper’ on the future of the Middle East that included veiled threats to Jerusalem was stuffed into his hand.” Bodansky goes on to say:

Sharon had not expected “his friend” Bush to sandbag him, especially in light of Sharon’s close cooperation with America, even at the cost of Israeli lives. Despite Sharon’s indignity, Israel made unilateral concessions to the Palestinians that enabled greater movement to would-be martyrs and bomb-makers. As a result, Israeli citizens suffered some of the most lethal strikes in recent memory, including, on the morning of Sharon’s meeting with Bush, a bus bombing in which fourteen civilians were killed and close to fifty wounded (p. 65).

Here we see the “visible Sharon,” whose submissiveness to Bush had become a habit. This Sharon passively accepted the Road Map which the Bush administration surfaced in April at 2003 even though the war, by then, seems over. The primary motive of the Road Map was to placate Arab opposition to America’s occupation of Iraq by helping the Palestinians. Bodansky cites Fouad Ajami’s assessment of Washington’s pro-Palestinian diplomacy: “… we should … entertain no grand illusions about the gratitude the Road Map would deliver in Palestinian and Arab streets. We buy no friendship in Arab lands with pro-Palestinian diplomacy; we ward off no anti-American terrorism.” The virulent anti-Americanism prevailing throughout the Arab world “can never be stilled with diplomatic effort on behalf of the Palestinians” (p. 316).

By promulgating the Road Map, Bush stabbed his “close friend” Ariel Sharon in the back. Sharon nonetheless pressured his cabinet to accept the Road Map, even though it required Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and the “West Bank” without prior action by Palestinian Authority to suppress Arab terrorism. Bodansky writes:

Israel felt shocked and betrayed in view of its tremendous support for the United States during the war. From the very beginning of the conflict, Sharon had instructed the entire Israeli defense and intelligence establishment to give the Americans all possible assistance, and wanting not to unnecessarily complicate Washington’s tenuous relations with the Arab world, Jerusalem agreed that their cooperation would go without public recognition or thanks. Several Israeli experts were in Iraq throughout the war, sharing their expertise and unique experience as well as risking their lives to help their American allies. Israeli intelligence played a major role in helping the CIA and other American intelligence agencies overcome some of their initial setbacks by providing access to unique sources and material ….
Israel also provided the American military with specialized systems for urban warfare and special operations—many of which were taken from operational units of the Israel Defense Forces. No less than fourteen D-9 armored bulldozers were flown to Iraq in the middle of the war to help the 94th Engineer Combat Battalion … UAVs [unmanned air vehicles], unique smart munitions, and electronic protective systems were contributed by the Israeli Air Force … (pp. 316-317).

During the (unanticipated) anti-American intifada that erupted after the fall of Baghdad, Israel’s extensive experience with antiterrorism and urban warfare proved invaluable to the American military. Bodansky writes:

During the summer, with losses mounting and counterinsurgency operations failing to deliver results, Washington became less politically sensitive to the battlefield introduction of tactics and systems easily identified as Israeli. Senior military planners traveled to Israel for on-site lessons on Israeli tactics and training methods for the forces involved in antiterrorist operations. Select American combat commanders were even permitted to attend Israeli field headquarters and watch actual counterterrorism operations enfolding. In the fall, select American units were sent to undergo specialized training inn Israeli facilities. Meanwhile, Israeli senior officers with extensive combat experience were sent to the United States to help their American counterparts. As the need for training deepened, Israeli instructors were sent to Fort Bragg and other installations to help train Special Forces and intelligence specialists prior to their deployment in Iraq….
The Israeli contribution to the war effort in Iraq was most pronounced, and most important, in special operations and intelligence (pp. 466-467).

But just as the Arabs felt no gratitude to Washington for the Road Map and its pro-Palestinian orientation, so Washington felt no gratitude for Israel’s enormous contribution to the United States during the war. Indeed, the Bush administration insisted that Jerusalem go along with the Road Map and ignore the Palestinians’ ongoing terrorist activities, the daily casualties among Israeli civilians, and the firing of Qassam rockets at Israeli targets. So much for the “visible Sharon.” Let us turn to the concealed Sharon, of whom we have only hinted.


Commentators are puzzled by Sharon’s policy reversals. Sharon, who was against a Palestinian state, became one of its strongest supporters. Sharon, who built communities in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza (Yesha), has given orders to uproot them. Sharon, who was firmly opposed to unilateral withdrawal under fire, initiated Israeli “disengagement” from Yesha under terrorist pressure. Sharon, who originally mocked the idea of a “security fence,” inaugurated its construction. How are we to account for such reversals?
These reversals have one obvious thing in common: they constitute a shift toward the left end of the political spectrum. One may therefore conclude that Sharon is not a man of principle or of firm ideological convictions. This would seem to describe the “visible Sharon.” Of course, one might add the partial truth that the “visible Sharon” has shifted toward the left because of American pressure. But what about the “concealed Sharon”?

To begin with, I will define the “concealed Sharon” as a “Machiavellian dove”—to use the sobriquet which the late Professor Y. Harkabi—the mentor of Shimon Peres—applied to himself. Whatever Harkabi’s intention, a Machiavellian dove is one who pursues peace to attain power. Therein is the key to understanding the policy of “territory for peace.” This said, let us place Sharon within the framework of Machiavelli.

The key to understanding Machiavelli and, ultimately, the “concealed Sharon,” will be found in Chapter 15 of The Prince. There Machiavelli lists ten pairs of qualities for which men, especially rulers, are praised or blamed—qualities which a ruler, “if he wishes to maintain himself,” must be able to “use” and “not use” “according to necessity.” Some rulers, he declares, “are held liberal, some miserly [and/or] rapacious; some cruel, others full of pity; the one faithless, the other faithful; the one effeminate and pusillanimous, the other fierce and spirited; the one human, the other proud; the one lascivious, the other chaste; the one open, the other cunning; the one hard, the other easy; the one grave, the other light; the one religious, the other skeptical, and the like.”

Machiavelli elaborates in Chapter 18 of The Prince:

It is not necessary for a prince to have in fact all of the qualities written above, but it is indeed necessary to appear to have them. I shall rather dare to say this: that having them and observing them always, they are harmful, but in appearing to have them, they are useful—so as to appear to be full of pity, faithful, human, open, religious, and to be so, but with one’s mind constructed in such a mode that when the need not to be arises, you can, and know how to, change to the contrary.

Here let us recall that Ariel Sharon, at one time, was highly respected by the religious community. He was instrumental in bringing the ultra-religious parties to support the Shamir-led national unity government following the November 1988 Knesset elections. Yet, in forming his own government after the January 2003 elections, Mr. Sharon ignored the ultra-religious parties (Shas and United Torah Judaism), and formed a coalition with the ultra-secular Shinui Party. Indeed, he appointed its chairman Tommy Lapid and Lapid’s colleague, Avraham Poraz, to head, respectively, the Justice and Interior Ministries. These two ministries have the power to deJudaize the State of Israel. Mr. Lapid promised to preserve the mode of appointing Israel’s Supreme Court, a self-perpetuating oligarchy whose president, judge Aharon Barak—perhaps the most powerful man in Israel—is an ultra-secularist whose judicial rulings frequently violate the abiding beliefs and values of the Jewish people.

Meanwhile, Mr. Poraz, in addition to fostering commercial violation of the Sabbath, eased the entry of gentiles into the country by “flexible” interpretation of the conversion and immigration laws. In fact, he froze the immigration of gentiles who underwent orthodox conversion. Under his anti-religious agenda, citizenship may be granted to the children of foreign workers and to any non-Jew that could make some contribution to the country, whether financial, artistic, scientific, or even athletic. Sharon raised no objection to this blatant attempt to deJudaize Israel, despite Israel’s declining Jewish majority and the fact that almost half the births occurring in this country are non-Jewish.

If further proof is wanted regarding Sharon’s orientation, (1) he opposed any amendment of the “grandfather clause” of the Law of Return, which has enabled hundreds of thousands of gentiles to enter Israel; (2) in justifying his choice of Poraz to supervise immigration to Israel, he said: “I see that [a Jew is] whoever comes, sees himself as part of the Jewish people, serves in the army, and fights”; (3) he referred to Judea and Samaria as “occupied territory,” thus making a mockery of Jewish history and Jewish national identity.

Judging from the preceding, the “concealed Sharon” (like Shimon Peres) harbors the ambition to create a new state—a state of “Israelis” in contradistinction to Jews. The original Jewish state must therefore undergo a secular revolution and become a “state of its citizens.” Jews must suffer a basic transformation of their national identity. Their national identity must be shrunk, such that their hearts cease to harbor any attachment to Judea, Samaria, and Gaza—to land that bonds them all the more firmly to the teachings of their prophets and sages. What kind of person can found a new state, one severed from the past of its people?

To found a new state, the founder’s mind must be so “constructed” as to be virtually devoid of all emotion, save the desire for power and glory. To harbor emotions is to be susceptible to habits, and it is precisely habits that prevent a ruler from being a Machiavellian, meaning a perfect opportunist (who knows when and how to zig-zag). To be a perfect opportunist, a ruler must change his “nature” with the times and circumstances, which means he must have no emotional predispositions (other than the desire to maintain and increase his power). Under yesterday’s circumstances it was expedient for Sharon to be a Zionist, to build up settlements, and to oppose a Palestinian state. Under today’s circumstances, it is expedient for Sharon to be a post-Zionist, to uproot settlements, and to favor a Palestinian state. Which means he must not think in terms of “black and white.” He must not have any binding emotional attachment to Judea and Samaria. He must think of this land not as Jewish land but as “occupied territory.” It is this intellectual and emotional neutrality that enables a Machiavellian to zig-zag his way to power. But such neutrality would be possible only if man is nothing more than a creature of habits—habits that can be conquered by a true Machiavellian. (Long before Rousseau and twentieth-century behaviorists, Machiavelli let it be known that human nature—if man can be said to have a nature—is plastic or malleable.)

Machiavelli is rightly called the “father of modernity.” In his list of qualities that bring rulers praise, Machiavelli excludes the four cardinal virtues of Greek political philosophy: wisdom, justice, moderation, and courage! What replaces “wisdom” is “cunning,” and what replace “courage” is “fierceness” (two Machiavellian qualities required of those who would construct a new a state or reconstruct an existing one). Notice, moreover, that religion (paired with skepticism) is placed last, inverting the Decalogue. The Prince replaces God.

Now, if justice may rightly be omitted from the qualities for which rulers are praised, Sharon need not be overly concerned about avenging every murderous attack by Arab terrorists. Indeed, his laxity in this regard has conditioned the public in Israel to accept the murder of Jews as if it were inevitable or natural. Did he not say “self-restraint is strength”? Has he not followed the shibboleth of Israel’s ruling elites: “There is no military solution to Arab terrorism”? Obviously these elites lack the cunning and ferocity required of Machiavellian elites.

With justice omitted from the qualities for which rulers are praised, a radically new political science appeared on the stage of world history, one that sanctifies the commonplace in the name of “realism.” In opposition to classical political science, modern political science takes its bearing not from how man should live, but from how men do live—from the is, not from the ought. Again Chapter 15: “… there is such a distance between how one lives and how one should live that he who lets go that which is done for that which ought to be done learns his ruin rather than his preservation … Hence it is necessary for a prince, if he wishes to maintain himself, to learn to be able to be not good, and to use it and not use it according to necessity.” Henceforth there are no moral limits as to what man may do. Man is at last fully autonomous. He stands, as Nietzsche was to say, “beyond good and evil.” Consistent therewith, Sharon declared in an interview with Ha’aretz (April 13, 2001) that he does not think in terms of “black and white.”

Furthermore, in direct opposition to the biblical tradition, which exalts truth and truthfulness, Chapter 18 of The Prince teaches would-be rulers to practice deceit and dissimulation constantly. Must not such deceit and dissimulation underlie Sharon’s political reversals, which can only be trivialized by those who dismiss Sharon as a man lacking firm ideological convictions? Is it not evident that prior to any political reversal, Sharon must have appeared to believe what his position at the time required if he was to obtain or maintain power? Did he not campaign in the January 2003 election against Labor’s left-wing policy of unilateral withdrawal from Gaza only to reverse himself the following year? Must we not regard his violating his pledge to abide by the outcome of the Likud referendum on “disengagement” as indicative of his contempt for truth and truthfulness?

To be sure, the lust for power commonly trumps truth and truthfulness, and it is not uncommon for politicians not to mean what they say. But here we are discussing not a health bill or proposal to lower taxes, but issues affecting the very lives of an untold number of Jews and even the survival of the Jewish state. Devious politicians should not be ranked as Machiavellians unless they also harbor an extraordinary lust for power whose goal is nothing less than the construction or reconstruction of a state along with the beliefs and values of its people. One must not confuse diluted and undiluted Machiavellians.

The greatest manifestation of the will to power, says Machiavelli, is not the state but the founding of an entirely new state. To establish a new state, or even to reconstruct an existing state, a founder must create “new modes and orders”: he must radically alter a people’s inherited beliefs and values, which requires great force and monumental fraud or deception. Here it needs to emphasized that the implementation of Sharon’s plan to withdraw from Gaza, and thereafter from Judea and Samaria, including eastern Jerusalem (eliminating Jewish control of the Temple Mount), is the precondition of constructing a new state, the state of Palestine, whose existence cannot but transform the national identity of another state, otherwise called the state of the Jews. In other words, we are speaking of a man who wants to be the co-author of a Palestinian state, which logically necessitates the truncation not only of the Jewish state, but also the historical consciousness of the Jewish People.

Sharon’s disengagement plan—read “transfer”—requires the uprooting of 8,000 Jews from their homes in Gaza. Since this is but the preliminary to uprooting countless more Jews in Judea and Samaria in order to make possible a contiguous Palestinian state, Jews have yet to experience the full extent of the force and fraud and “painful sacrifices” that await them. The bulldozing of Gilad and the uprooting of other Jewish outposts by the Sharon government are harbingers of things to come.

The ethnic cleansing of Jews from Gaza, as well as from Judea and Samaria—hence the loss of eastern Jerusalem and the Temple Mount—cannot but demoralize the Jewish people and so enfeeble them as to render their inherited beliefs and values susceptible to radical transformation. We see, therefore, that the establishment of the new state of Palestine logically entails the disestablishment of the Jewish state and its transformation into a gentile state. This is the Road Map along which the “concealed Sharon” is driving the Jews of Israel in his quest for “peace”—or should we say power and glory?

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