The Left's Jihad Against Sharansky
by Steven Plaut
Natan Sharansky has become the victim of KGB terror that the Left most loves to hate. His sin? He is thought to have influenced President Bush and helped persuade him that the time has come to push democracy as a solution for the problems of terrorism and tyranny. He also, of course, is guilty of thinking that Jews have the right to shoot back.
Born in the Ukraine and educated at Moscow's Physical Technical Institute, Sharansky became an advocate for human rights in the Soviet Union. Sharansky worked alongside the great Andrei Sakharov. The communists were not happy with Sharansky's activities and locked him up in the infamous Soviet prison system for years. So, unlike Alexander Cockburn, he really knows what communism is like.
Sharansky, who is a cabinet minister today in Israel, had the nerve to write a book praising democracy. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice likes what he says. Those yearning for a return to Soviet Stalinism do not like him, like a certain pro-Khmer Rouge MIT professor I can think of.
The fundamentalist Left is all upset about this. They are soiling themselves because Sharansky not only is an Israeli, but is militantly pro-American. Both the Far Left and the Neo-Nazi Right are enraged by Sharansky's inspiration, as are the Arab fascists. But none are as anti-Sharansky as the team of dung beetles over at Counterpunch. Yes, Alexander Cockburn's team is not only anti-Sharansky, but decided to dig out the Israeli analogue to Taliban John to attack Sharansky: Uri Avnery. Run alongside a new piece by Ward Churchill explaining how the Americans are the real terrorists, Avnery's is a lame hatchet job trying to discredit Sharansky.
Avnery has spent most of his career trying to help the enemies of his country win. He started out as the Israeli Larry Flynt, publishing a semi-pornographic magazine that mixed hooters with scandal-mongering. He wrote a book in the 1960s denouncing Zionism and endorsing the sort of solution for Israel that made Rwanda what it became. He briefly sat in the parliament, wining the protest votes of the sorts of people who would otherwise vote for Howard Stern for president of the US. Avnery is so fanatically anti-Israel that when his own mother died, she disinherited him in her will because she regarded him as a traitor. Avnery runs the Gush Shalom splinter group, which is naturally awash in funds donated by people who do not seek Israel's wellbeing. It is also endorsed by neo-Nazi White supremacists, who appreciate an anti-Semite when they see one. Avnery has become a Counterpunch regular, because Cockburn figures no one will consider him an anti-Semite if he runs Israeli far-leftists who want their country destroyed.
Avnery whines that Sharansky Hebraicized his name when he got out of the Gulag (never mind that Avnery was not his original name either). Then, he describes the dead PLO leader Feisal Husseini as "the real humanist". He only "forgot" to tell us what this "real humanist" said in his last interview to the Egyptian newspaper El-Arab on June 24, 2001:
"Had the US and Israel understood before Oslo, that all that remained of the Palestine liberation movement and the Pan-Arab movement was the Trojan Horse named Arafat or the PLO, they would have never opened their fortified gates and let him in." And he continued: "It is the obligation of all the Palestinian forces to see the Oslo Accords as temporary steps, because in this way, we are setting an ambush for the Israelis and cheating them." And he added: "The main goal is the liberation of all Palestine, from the sea to the river, even if it requires a struggle that will continue 1,000 years, or generation upon generation."
That is Avnery's "humanist".... Avnery goes on to endorse a book that libeled Sharansky as a supposed KGB spy. Sharansky sued the author and won $300,000 in a country in which it is almost impossible for a public figure to win libel suits. Here are Avnery's snotty comments about Sharansky: "His highly unoriginal contention that 'democracies do not make war against other democracies' is a perfect alibi for the United States to attack Iraq, Syria and Iran, which are, after all, no democracies (while dictatorships like Pakistan and Turkmenistan remain good friends). The idea that the teachings of this particular political philosopher are the guiding star of the mightiest leader in the world, the commander of the biggest military machine in history, is rather frightening."