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Colossal Mistake ... or ??

Reader comment on item: [After Sharon:] Israeli Politics Will Revert to Its Past
in response to reader comment: Some say "The Work Of The Great Sharon Should Continue."?

Submitted by J.S. (Canada), Jan 10, 2006 at 15:19

First, there is a distinction between a "mistake" versus an "accident." Some suggest that Ariel Sharon may have been subject to on-going CV problems (perhaps Sharon was having untreated, minor strokes) which in turn may have impaired his judgements...cognitive functions, etc, inevitably leading to decisions as the Gaza withdrawl, and so on.

Suppose there's a farmer who decides to shoot one of his live-stock...He takes a gun, looks into the field, sees one of his cows and pulls the trigger. Later, however, his irate neighbor demands an explanation as to why he's shot/killed one of the neighbors' cows. Now, this is an example of someone making a mistake -- the farmer mistook his neighbour's cow as one of his own. But clearly, the farmer had formed the intention to kill his cow. He intended to do X, but the ultimate result was not as he expected.

An accident, on the other hand, occurs purely by chance, without intent. Sharon's stroke was "an accident" (with possibly unfortunate consequences), but in terms of history, it explains nothing.

E. H. Carr in his seminal text, "What is History?" (1961) argued against a popular belief that history was simply a series of accidents (see page 98, "Cleopatra's Nose"). Carr argued that "the hierarchy of causes, the relative significance of one cause or set of causes of another, is the essence of ... interpretation...Accidents...do not enter into any rational interpretation of history or into the historian's hierarchy of significant causes." The historian needs to sort through causes and select those which are significant ("distinguishing between rational and accidntal causes.") Carr went on to note: "The former [rational causes] lead to fruitful generalizations, and lessons can be learned from them...[while] accidental causes cannot be generalized; and since, they are in the fullest sense of the word unique, they teach no lessons and lead to no conclusions." Carr: "In the words of Meinecke -- the great Meinecke of the 1920s -- 'the search for causalities in history is impossible without reference to values...behind the search for causalties there always is, directly or indirectly, the search for values.' And this recalls what I said earlier about the dual and reciprocal function of history -- to promote the understanding of the past in the light of the present and of the present in the light of the past. Anything which, like Antony's infatuation with Cleopatra's nose, fails to contribute to this dual purpose is from the point of view of the historian dead and barren." [end of quote from Carr. Carr went on to remark that "history begins with the handing down of tradition..."]

So let us dispense with the notion that Ariel Sharon's stroke [an accident] is somehow of importance (particularly when it comes to attempting to understand Sharon's reasoning behind the Gaza pull-out).

Mark A. Heller argues that Sharon never embraced "the peace process" nor was Sharon ever elected because Sharon promised "peace." Sharon was elected because he promised Israelis security. And to establish a secure Israel, Sharon believed (for unknown reasons) that a Gaza pull-out was necessary.

Now if someone makes a mistake (a "friendly-fire" incident, eg, is considered a "mistake"), the person knows and intends to do Event X, but the end-result is not what the person expected. For the sake of argument, let's suppose Sharon's "mistake" is not really a mistake... What if Sharon intended to demonstrate to the world that Palestinians do not want peace, and that, if given the opportunity, the atavistic Pals will revert (true to form) to being "drugged cockaroaches" (ie., Gaza will become a place of lawlessness, anarchy and mayhem). If Sharon expected this to occur, then an argument to refute an unobtainable "peace process" grows only stronger... and unilateralism (ie., Israel determining its own borders without Pal input) sensible.

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