March 18, 2005

The Book of Sharansky

Anatol Lieven reviews Natan Sharansky's novel The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror. in today's Financial Times. (subscription)
Mr Sharansky's book The Case for Democracy is one of the few works on the Middle East that Mr Bush has read. According to Mr Bush himself, Mr Sharansky has been a key inspiration for the US president''s rhetoric of spreading democracy and freedom.


Tragically, however, Mr Sharansky's record in Israel, and Mr Bush''s apparent indifference to this record, demonstrate the almost Orwellian contradictions in the US approach to the Muslim world. They also go to the heart of European doubts about both the practicality and sincerity of US progressive agendas in the Middle East. The grounds for such doubts are especially worth recalling at present, given the short-term exuberance produced by developments such as the Iraqi elections and anti-Syrian demonstrations in Lebanon. Mr Bush was first attracted to Mr Sharansky by his noble record of resistance to Soviet tyranny, which earned him years in Soviet jails. Today, however, Mr Sharansky is a leader of the Soviet immigrant-based Yisrael Ba''aliyah party, which takes a hard line on Palestinian demands and security issues, and has supported the expansion of settlements.

Mr Sharansky's demand for greater democracy is, of course, focused foremost on the Palestinians. He said in February that he would be prepared to give the Palestinians "all the rights in the world" once they fully adopted democracy. The problem is that Mr Sharansky has never said what land he would be willing to concede, even to a fully democratic Palestinian state. His record in office, however, has reflected utter contempt for the lives, property and well-being of Palestinians, as well as for their opinions, whether democratically expressed or not.
I've seen around the internet that some Zionists want this ardent racist, Sharansky, for PM. So often I have heard Palestinians saying things like "what could be worse than Begin/Shamir/Sharon etc?" Sharansky might well be the answer to that.

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