January/February 2001
Western Wall

Responses to Michael Lerner's Blood Libel Against Ariel Sharon

February, 22 2001

By Uri Dan

Michael Lerner has, of course, the right to be opposed to Ariel Sharon, who was elected as prime minister in a political victory having no precedent in Israeli history. After all, Lerner is not a self-hating Jew but a self-loving one, who probably hates all those who reject his views.

But in the name of this hate, even Lerner does not have the right to write the kind of lies that appeared in his article "The scary Sharon"(February 13) in which he deplored Sharon's victory.

In Lerner's opinion, "...Barak played to his Right. He insisted that he would never compromise on Jerusalem or dismantle settlements."

One could have expected that Lerner would have done his homework before making such an accusation against Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Every newspaper reader and TV viewer in Israel knows that Barak was ready to give away to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat most of east Jerusalem, to abandon Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount and to dismantle about a 100 settlements, while conceding 97 percent of Judea and Samaria to Arafat.

Lerner, however, has always been a self-appointed "Last of the Just," a professional tzaddik, so one should not confuse him with facts after he has made up his tortured mind and crystallized his disturbed views.

Although representing a minority of Jewish pseudo-intellectuals, who create a disproportionate amount of noise and havoc in their criticism of a strong and viable Jewish state, Lerner does not hesitate to spread a blood libel when, of course, it comes to Sharon himself, who served as defense minister during the Lebanon War. He says: "Though his troops only supervised, and didn't personally conduct the shooting of the hundreds of civilians in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps, the Israeli public knew of his previous acts of terror during his years in the army."

The Sharon hate virus is so deeply implanted in the blood vessels of this self-loving Lerner that he goes far beyond the opinion of the Kahan Commission, that explicitly stated that no Israeli of any branch or any rank had been involved in this painful tragedy. The committee therefore placed, at most, "indirect responsibility" on several Israelis, including Sharon himself, for not foreseeing that the Christian-Arab Phalangist Lebanese troops might kill the Moslem-Arab Palestinians, after joining Israeli troops in fighting against the Palestinian terrorists in Beirut.

Once Sharon received a report about the savage behavior of the Phalangists, he ordered the Israeli forces to take steps to stop them and get the Christian militia out of Sabra and Shatilla.

However, Lerner finds it very easy to spread the blood libel that the Israeli troops "supervised" the shooting. He is very eager to brand Sharon and the IDF with the mark of Cain, and not only them, but Israel itself.

Poor Lerner - the Israeli public, by giving Sharon a landslide victory in the elections, declared that it knows Sharon, not because of "his previous acts of terror," but for his outstanding activities in the defense of the Jewish state, over the course of dozens of years: commanding special operations against Palestinian terrorism during the Fifties; smashing the main deployment of Egyptian armor in Sinai during the Six Day War; brilliantly crossing the Suez Canal in 1973, thus turning the tide of war from an Israeli defeat into a decisive victory, that brought Egyptian president Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem four years later to ask for peace.

Lerner's blood libel recalls a similar one published by Time magazine in February 1983.

Sharon sued Time for libel, and an American jury found in Sharon's favor - that Time had libeled him by publishing lies about him as a result of negligent and reckless reporting. It became a landmark case in US media libel history.

Lerner's blood libel doesn't even warrant a libel trial here. His punishment is that by virtue of his self-loving, he hates others. Enjoy.

14 February 2001

by Dr. Joseph Lerner

Michael Lerner begins his "The scary Sharon"(The Jerusalem Post Feb.13) with the assertion that Sharon's troops at the Sabra and Shatila massacres "only supervised, and didn't personally conduct the shooting of hundreds of civilians." As everyone knows, to `supervise' means "to oversee (a process, work, workers, etc.} during execution ... have the oversight and direction of" (American College Dictionary). There is not the slightest hint to that effect in the Report of the Kahan Commission which investigated the massacres. To the contrary, the Report stresses that the Commission's investigation found no reason for charges such as those made by Rabbi Lerner.

Furthermore, the Kahan Commission found that no Israeli either instigated or conspired to cause the massacres: "We have no doubt that no conspiracy or plot was entered into between anyone from the Israeli political echelon or from the military echelon in the I.D.F. and the Phalangists with the aim of perpetrating atrocities in the camps ... We assert that in having the Phalangists enter the camps, no intention existed on the part of anyone who acted on behalf of Israel to harm the non-combatant population, and that the events that followed did not have the concurrence or assent of anyone from the political or civilian echelon who was active regarding the Phalangists' entry into the camps. . . . the direct responsibility for the perpetration of the acts of slaughter rests on the Phalangist forces " Source: The Beirut Massacre - The Complete Kahan Commission Report (authorized translation} Karz-Cohl Publishing,Inc.1983 {pp.54-55)

The Commission found Sharon carried an "indirect responsibility" for the killings because he was not sufficiently aware of what should have been expected from the Lebanese Phalangists and did not take actions to prevent them.

Did the Kahan Commission shelter Sharon in its Report's secret appendix? Almost coincidental with the Kahan Commission Report's release TIME magazine further electrified the world with the claim that the Report's `secret annex' said that Sharon, before the funeral of assassinated president elect Bashi Gemayal, discussed with Pierre and Amin Gemayal "the need for the Phalangists to take revenge for the assassination".

Sharon sued TIME in New York. The jury found the TIME article false and defamatory. The jury declared certain TIME employees had acted negligently and carelessly". But, since maliciousness had not been proven, it was not considered libel.

Rabbi Lerner's charge against Sharon and the IDF is more serious than the false charge Time Magazine made against Sharon. Malice drives his op-ed. The jury in the Time case went out of its way to state that "certain employees had acted negligently and carelessly" in reporting and verification. Lerner's malice goes straight from his mind-set to his text.

His misrepresentation of Sharon and the IDF regarding Sabra and Shatila denies `Tikkun', the name of his magazine and synagogue in San Francisco. Tikkun means the restoration and reuniting of that which is broken. Rabbi Lerner's call is for hatred and division among Jews.

Dr. Joseph Lerner
Associate-director, IMRA

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