Gerald Kaufman attacks Bush for supporting Ariel Sharon’s ‘disengagement’ plan, which, he says, will inevitably result in more Israeli deaths
One morning this week I got into conversation with a smartly dressed, middle-aged woman at the 274 bus stop in St John’s Wood. She told me that she was having an apartment built in Israel and that her daughter, on aliyah (the Hebrew word for immigration to the Holy Land), was a doctor in Jerusalem.
This nice lady told me, ‘I would defend Israel with my last breath.’ So, it might be thought: here was exactly the kind of person who would have been delighted by last week’s accord between the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Israel at the White House in Washington and who, though a peaceable soul, would not have been displeased by the death in Gaza of the Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Ratissi, whose murder was authorised as soon as Sharon got back from the US.
Dream on. My bus-stop conversationalist was appalled that a situation had been so exacerbated as to impel Palestinian terrorists to murder even more Israelis (some of which earlier victims her daughter had known personally), which would emphasise still further the contrast between relative Israeli affluence and Palestinian impoverishment, and which would delay into the indiscernible future any chance of peace for the long-suffering Israeli people.
She said that her daughter’s original idealism at going to live in the land of her forefathers had vanished, to be replaced by continual apprehension at living in the middle of a powder keg. This decent, thoughtful Jewish woman, far from being beguiled by the facile clichés uttered by George W. Bush, saw only tragedy ahead for the Middle East.
Almost exactly two years ago in the House of Commons I described Ariel Sharon as a ‘war criminal’.