Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Canada Calling: Ariel Sharon's Call for North American Emigration to Israel Falls on Deaf Ears

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Canada Calling: Ariel Sharon's Call for North American Emigration to Israel Falls on Deaf Ears

Article excerpt

Canada Calling: Ariel Sharon's Call for North American Emigration to Israel Falls on Deaf Ears

By John Dirlik

After bitterly denouncing the policies of the Rabin government at a packed synagogue in Canada, right-wing Likud member Ariel Sharon predicted a wave of anti-Semitism in North America and challenged his audience to move to Israel.

On a fund-raising tour for Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, the burly architect of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon was greeted with resounding applause and a standing ovation the moment he appeared at the podium of Beth Israel synagogue in Montreal. Speaking in a solemn voice, a grave-faced Sharon charged that Israel's Labor Party was making a "terrible mistake" in its dealings with the Palestinians.

"We are going through one of the most dangerous periods since the creation of Israel," he said. "I am ashamed to say that this government, along with the PLO terrorist organization, is putting pressure on the Jews to leave the territories."

Stressing that Israel's situation called for their immediate support, Sharon urged his 1,500 listeners to oppose the current negotiations. "No one can tell you that because you are here [in Canada] you cannot express your views about Israel," he said. "It is your responsibility to interfere."

Sharon, who when the Likud was in power chastised Diaspora Jews who publicly disagreed with Israeli policies, said he found it "very hard to criticize the Israeli government when I am abroad," but did so because "the dangers are such that you have to know the facts."

The ruling government in Israel not only has abandoned Jewish settlers in the occupied territories, Sharon said, but is "discriminating" against them by letting their health services and educational facilities deteriorate. "I used to travel the world to meet kings and prime ministers," Sharon said. "I never thought I would have to travel the world to ask Jews for ambulances" for the territories.

In addition to blaming the Labor Party for the plight of the settlers, Sharon also accused the media of distorting their image by portraying them as "fanatics with wild beards." Most settlers, he insisted, were "quiet people who have tremendous self-restraint."

Sharon warned that if Jewish settlers were told to leave Hebron or any part of the occupied territories, this would play into the hand of anti-Semites and have serious repercussions beyond Israel's borders. "What will happen in Israel will affect your life here," he told a hushed audience. "You know that anti-Semitism is spreading like fire. The day will come when people will tell you that they do not want you to live in Montreal, or in Toronto, or in Brooklyn. …

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