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Politicide: Ariel Sharon's War Against the Palestinians [Hardcover]

Baruch Kimmerling
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

16 May 2003
Ariel Sharon is one of the most experienced, shrewd and frightening leaders of the new millennium. Despite being found both directly and indirectly responsible for acts considered war crimes under international law, he became Prime Minister of Israel, a political victory he won by provoking the Palestinians into a new uprising, the second intifada. From the beginning of his career Sharon was regarded as the most brutal, deceitful and unrestrained of all the Israeli generals and politicians. A man of monstrous vision, his attempts to destroy the Palestinian people have included the proposal to make Jordan the Palestinian state and the now infamous invasion of Lebanon in 1982, which resulted in the Shabra and Shatila massacres. Baruch Kimmerling's new book describes Sharon's quest to reshape the whole geopolitical landscape of the Middle East. He describes how Sharon is committed to politicide, the destruction of the Palestinian political identity, and how he has won the support of powerful elements within Israeli society and the present American administration in order to achieve this. At this time of crisis Kimmerling exposes the brutality of Sharon and his junta's "solutions" and constructs a devastating indictment of a man whose cruelty and ruthlessness have resulted in widespread and indiscriminate slaughter.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Verso Books (16 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859845177
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859845172
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 15.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 323,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"This timely and highly readable book by one of Israel's leading dissident intellectuals is essential for those interested in going beyond the headlines in order to understand the failure of the Palestinian-Israeli 'peace process." - Library Journal "Timely and well argued." - The Nation "Insightful, informative, and, yes, judiciously balanced." - Foreign Affairs

About the Author

Baruch Kimmerling is a distinguished Research Professor at the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto and George S. Wise Professor of Sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has published numerous books and articles on Israel and Palestine.

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34 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb study of Sharon's fascistic policies 26 Aug 2004
Format:Hardcover
In this extremely useful book, the Israeli historian Baruch Kimmerling shows how the Sharon government is committing politicide by destroying the Palestinian public sphere, including its leaders, schools, universities and hospitals, destroying the Palestinian private sphere by making everyday life unbearable for people, in an effort to dissolve the Palestinian people as a legitimate society, polity and economy.
Kimmerling details Sharon's record as a warrior against civilians, and his consistent use of a strategy of provocations: the 1953 massacre in Qibiya, the 1955 Gaza raid into Egypt, his forces' killing of 1,000 civilians in the Gaza Strip between 1967 and 1970, the 1982 invasion of Lebanon which killed 18,000 people, his connivance in the Sabra and Shatila massacres, and how he provoked the September 2000 Intifada.
Kimmerling describes Israel's growing fascist tendencies: he says it is becoming 'a Thatcherite and semi-fascist regime', with reduced freedom of expression, all opposition smeared as treason, the army's growing involvement in politics, one-man rule, the demonising of Palestinians and Arabs, and the destruction of Palestinian society through economic privation, violence and terror.
Menachem Begin admitted that Israel attacked Egypt in 1967, in the war that led to Israel's brutal and illegal occupations. Now, in re-occupying Palestinian territories, Israeli forces have killed 250 Palestinian children, and 72 Israeli children have been killed. Since September 2000, 2,546 Palestinians and 892 Israelis have been killed, and 23,930 Palestinians and 5,973 Israelis have been injured.
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8 of 38 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hateful polemic masquerading as history 19 April 2006
Format:Hardcover
Where to begin with this 160-page rant? A few observations should alert you to the fantastically biased and partial writing, more suited to an SWP tract than a supposed history:

* the author feels a need to invent a new word - 'politicide' - so uniquely evil does he believe Sharon to be.

* no attempt is made to put any of the actions mentioned in any sort of historical context, such as the '48 and '67 wars, fought to destroy Israel itself.

* the author doesn't trouble himself to ask why Israelis voted Sharon in - it seems as if 'root causes' are only for Israel's enemies.

* every Israeli action is a 'provocation', every Palestinian action a 'response'.

* Verso, an extreme Left publisher, has plenty of form here in its relentless anti-Zionist publishing programme

I'm no fan of Sharon, and his policies have often been questionable from both an ethical and pragnatic viewpoint; ironically, this is the sort of book whose shrill, hysterical and hate-filled rhetoric seem guaranteed to repel all but the 'converted', dedicated Israel-haters.

This is a book whose aim is not to enlighten, question or provoke, but simply to provide a security blanket to those for whom hatred of Israel is a 24/7 sport.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Succinct and well argued. 2 July 2006
By William D. Aitken - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Professor Baruch Kimmerling's essay on the failure of the Middle East peace process coins the term `politicide' to describe Israel's denial of the Palestinians' right to function as a social, political and economic entity. An unintended legacy of Ariel Sharon's Peronist-style authoritarian government, he maintains, is the victory of Hamas in the January 2006 elections to the Palestinian Authority Legislative Council. To all appearances the situation thus remains as deadlocked as ever. As an inevitable consequence of Israel's hard-line policy the PA Legislative Council is now dominated by a faction which in its turn endorses politicide, that of the Jewish state.

The very nature of the Zionist undertaking, according to Kimmerling, must logically entail the politicide of the Palestinian people. The democracy which Israel has evolved is, in fact, a `Herrenvolk' democracy; that is, existing for the benefit of a privileged caste lording it over a subject population. The chauvinism of Israel's leaders is all the more suspect for being religion-based. Kimmerling does not recognise the 2,000 year-old `exile' from the Holy Land as favouring the Zionist cause. Indeed, most of the Jewish people who fled the East European pogroms of 1880-81 entertained no concept of a Biblical homeland to which they should return, choosing instead to move westward. The rigid adherence to scriptural fiat is thus seen as a crime against reason. Those guilty of it include the Gush Emunim settler movement and an obnoxious Christian fundamentalist clique in America which brooks no criticism of Sharon and his ilk and holds that the post-`67 capture of Jewish holy places by Israel was divinely ordained.

The narrative is organised around three landmark events, according to the author's interpretation, in the history of Israel's politicide against the indigenous Arab population. The first of these is the 1948 ethnic cleansing initiated by General Yigael Yadin's Plan B which advocated the destruction of Arab villages and the expulsion of their populations. Although formerly denied this is now recognised as historical fact. Kimmerling mentions Jewish revisionist historian Benny Morris who has demonstrated in his writings how the idea of population transfer figures largely in mainstream Zionist thinking, but he is criticised for failing to connect these ideas with the 1948 war. In fact Kimmerling's book predates an appalling interview (`Ha'aretz' January 2004) in which Morris admits the truth of the 1948 ethnic cleansing allegations made against Israel but insists that, in the interests of state-building, even the carnage of Deir Yassin was justified. `You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs', is his oft-quoted remark. Only a little less candid is Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon's description of the Palestinians as a `cancerous manifestation' for whom `chemotherapy' would be the appropriate remedy. He is possibly advocating their expulsion rather than actual physical annihilation, and Kimmerling notes that when public figures in Israel call for the enforced transfer of Arab communities as a plausible solution to the conflict few eyebrows are raised.

The second major episode dealt with is Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982 when Sharon was Defence Minister. For an extended treatment of the tragic events Noam Chomsky's masterly, harrowing `Fateful Triangle' is highly recommended, but here Kimmerling is concise and to the point. Despite the Israeli cabinet agreeing a plan to allow the evacuation of the PLO, Sharon, hoping to destroy Arafat's organisation rather than allow it to leave, instigated a 7-hour assault on Beirut which resulted in 300 mostly civilian casualties. When the PLO finally did leave Sharon refused to grant Arafat's request that multinational forces be brought in to protect the Palestinian refugees from the revenge of the Lebanese Phalangist militias whose murderous reputation was well known. After the militias' entirely predictable genocidal rampage in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila the Kahan inquiry commission found Sharon `indirectly responsible' for the massacre. We are reminded of an earlier chapter in which Kimmerling discusses the behaviour of Sharon's 101 unit during its 1953 assault on the Palestinian village of Qibiya where houses were detonated with the inhabitants still inside. Members of the unit subsequently denied their commander's claim that he ordered them to evacuate all dwellings before commencing the attack. As for the Kahan commission's recommendations, these were not heeded to the letter. Although resigning as Defence Minister Sharon continued to hold public office and, of course, would later become Prime Minister. We may note, in passing, how this highlights the issue of public as opposed to private morality in different societies founded on the Western democratic model. Whereas here in the UK sexually indiscreet behaviour can rebound catastrophically on holders of public office, in `democratic' Israel collusion in mass murder has no such damaging effect on the political careers of those held responsible.

Thirdly, Operation Defensive Shield was undertaken after a sucide bomber claimed the lives of 29 people in the town of Netanya in March 2002, although the operation had in fact been pre-planned and only required a pretext for it to be carried out. The relevant chapter focuses on Israel's destruction of Palestinian radio and TV stations, databases, documents, water-treatment facilities, power-generating plants, clinics, schools and universities. According to the terms of Kimmerling's analysis all this constituted a `politicidal' act on the part of Israel under Sharon's Premiership because, in destroying infrastructure and civilian institutions, it went well beyond the stated aim of `wiping out the Palestinian terror network'. The various phases of Defensive Shield including the battle in Nablus, the Jenin events and Arafat's virtual `last stand' in the Ramallah compound are gone over briefly. Kimmerling also considers Israel's policy of so-called targeted killings, not so finely targeted that they avoid civilian casualties and, significantly, even some members of the Israeli public now openly condemn such actions as war crimes. As a reminder of the first major incident of `politicide' discussed earlier there is a quote from a `Ha'aretz' magazine interview in which Sharon states that the 1948 war was `just one chapter' in the `War of Independence' which has yet to be concluded. Ever the discreet tactician Sharon does not elaborate but, given the events of that fateful year which have since come to light the implications are, to put it mildly, sinister.

This is not so much a biography of Ariel Sharon as a condensed history of the Middle East conflict, but Kimmerling's compelling and lucid account considers the salient points of Sharon's career and his role in several key events. Running to a concise 230 pages it will serve as an easily digestible, though challenging, antidote to the public image of its subject fostered by George W Bush's anodyne `man of peace' rhetoric. Finally, it should be emphasised that the author is clearly a man of compassion and, as such, quite undeserving of the cliched `self-hating Jew' brickbat which will inevitably be thrown at him by his least perceptive critics. Rather than end on a gloomy note he discerns the beginnings of an understanding on both sides that painful compromises will have to be made, something which, in the light of current events (June/July 2006), unfortunately does not seem imminent.
23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb study of Sharon's fascistic policies 26 Aug 2004
By William Podmore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In this extremely useful book, the Israeli historian Baruch Kimmerling shows how the Sharon government is committing politicide by destroying the Palestinian public sphere, including its leaders, schools, universities and hospitals, destroying the Palestinian private sphere by making everyday life unbearable for people, in an effort to dissolve the Palestinian people as a legitimate society, polity and economy.

Kimmerling details Sharon's record as a warrior against civilians, and his consistent use of a strategy of provocations: the 1953 massacre in Qibiya, the 1955 Gaza raid into Egypt, his forces' killing of 1,000 civilians in the Gaza Strip between 1967 and 1970, the 1982 invasion of Lebanon which killed 18,000 people, his connivance in the Sabra and Shatila massacres, and how he provoked the September 2000 Intifada.

Kimmerling describes Israel's growing fascist tendencies: he says it is becoming `a Thatcherite and semi-fascist regime', with reduced freedom of expression, all opposition smeared as treason, the army's growing involvement in politics, one-man rule, the demonising of Palestinians and Arabs, and the destruction of Palestinian society through economic privation, violence and terror.

Menachem Begin admitted that Israel attacked Egypt in 1967, in the war that led to Israel's brutal and illegal occupations. Now, in re-occupying Palestinian territories, Israeli forces have killed 250 Palestinian children, and 72 Israeli children have been killed. Since September 2000, 2,546 Palestinians and 892 Israelis have been killed, and 23,930 Palestinians and 5,973 Israelis have been injured. 2,202 Palestinian homes have been completely destroyed, and 14,436 partially; one Israeli home has been destroyed

Sharon's strategy is failing: killing Palestinians and destroying their society is not protecting Israeli citizens from terrorist acts; Jews are safer anywhere else in the world. The only way forward for Israel is a two-state settlement, whereby the two peoples accept each other's existence, renounce violence and commit to cooperation and peaceful coexistence.
19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How to expel Palestinians: programs for an ethnic cleansing 3 May 2004
By Paola Canarutto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a good book. It's not a perfect one - because, focussed as it is on the blaming of Sharon, it often forgets what the Israeli Labour party was able to do against Palestinians when it was its turn to hold power.
But this book is a timely one. Already in 2003, Baruch Kimmerling was able to point out to the risk that, should Sharon go on unhampered, he can reach his next objective: the expulsion of Palestinians from the land they live on. This can be obtained not only "by the sword", but by making their life impossible. And this is exactly what's happening: at the beginning of April, UNRWA had to stop the feeding of Gaza strip, because Israel had been successful in blocking its activities. Secondly, this book is prophetic for another reason: because it signalled that what Sharon wished to build up was a Palestinian "state" made up of non-communicating encalves. This is the project Bush signed, not many days ago. And the risk is that Palestinians, since this is a plan that none of them can approve, carry out other suicide bombers - alienating more and more the Israeli opposition, and intellectual public opinion overseas, away from them. The day public opinion only sees the suffering of Israeli civilians, and forgets about Palestinian deaths and hunger - the moment public opinion turns a blind eye on them - Sharon can do what he wishes
This is what we can read quite at the end of the book (p. 211): "All of these conditions are, according to Sharon, designed to lower Palestinian expectations crush their resistance, isolate them, make them submit to any arrangement suggested by the Israelis, and eventually cause their "voluntary" mass emigration from the land". So, Sharon's plans, and the way he wants to implement them, must be fully known; and this book must be read and widely distributed
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for American public and politicians 8 July 2006
By E. Rodin MD - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Professor Kimmerling's book is an important contribution to the understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian war and should be read by everyone who is concerned about the future of our country. America's Middle East policy is at this time not evenhanded but clearly favors Israel's wishes over those of other countries in the region. Since Kimmerling documents the oppressive policies of Israel toward its conquered Palestinian population Americans need to read this book which presents the proverbial other side of the coin.

This is especially topical now when guns are blazing again in Gaza and Israel uses the pretext of freeing a kidnapped soldier to punish the Palestinian people for democratically electing a Hamas led government. The current situation clearly proves Kimmerling's point, that a viable Palestinian state will not be tolerated by Israel's government.

The book discusses the "pre-emptive" 1967 war which led to the Yom Kippur war and the ill advised invasion of Lebanon for which Sharon was mainly responsible. He was also the main architect of the settlement program in the occupied territories which has now become a millstone around the neck not only of Israelis and Palestinians but also Americans because neither of the parties can see a just solution to this increasingly vexing problem. Kimmerling's excerpts from "Machsomwatch," which detail the conditions Palestinians are forced to live under are especially poignant.

When one reads this book it becomes clear why the rest of the world does not trust America at this time and only when America will begin to support, instead of vetoing, resolutions in the UN which demand an end to Israel's current practices will there be a semblance of hope for peace.
27 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A portrait of a man and the Israeli Right 4 Jan 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Politicide by Kimmerling, is in many ways remarkable as both Israeli historiography and as an Israeli political event: this detailed history by an internationally known member of the Israeli elite (Professor Baruch Kimmerling holds an appointment both at Hebrew University and at the University of Toronto, he is a sociologist) of Ariel Sharon is both an engaging portrait of a famous Israeli officer turned politician, and a succinct characterization of the politics of the Israeli right; the role of successive raids and many military provocations by the Israeli army that preceded all of their wars (with the Arabs); and, therefore and by extension, a description of the inherent violence of the Zionist state entity in its many faceted dealings with the Arabs, since 1948.
Details are provided the reader, as well, of IDF approved, or permitted, massacres of Palestinians in their refugee camps and villages , and other politically motivated murders: these events few of which are known outside of Israel are regarded (in context) as an integral part of the making of an important military career (within both the early culture of the IDF and that of Israeli popular culture too). This career is made visible by the present prime minister of Israel. Details of Ariel Sharon's early growing up and how this may have presaged the choices of the future man are also introduced .
The strategic Israeli plan that is presently being implemented now on the ground to create and maintain a kind of Bantustan out of all the West Bank areas (and Gaza too) is described as long held planning by some in the Israeli political and military elite, and as a personal `vision' of Sharon and those in the Israeli Right, among them the settlers and their political parties. A vision which if fully implemented would mean, according to Professor Kimmerling, the extinction, for all practicable purposes, of the Palestinians as a recognizeable, historical entity. Kimmerling introduces to his readers the sociologist's technical term 'Herrenvolk' (roughly translated as `master race' ) to describe present day Israeli (state) relations to all Palestinians, both those within , and without, the present Israeli borders. He frequently uses the term 'military settler society' to characterize present Israeli society (he has written about such things in professional journals) With a decent bibliography and a useful index.
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