I Voted for Sharon

In 2003, I voted for Sharon. It was a choice that made me nervous.

Ariel Sharon (left) with his son Omri at the Knesset (photo credit: Flash90)

Sharon had proposed a plan, only two months earlier, not dissimilar to the Disengagement Plan he called the Separation Plan. I was and remain against all land for peace deals.

For one thing, salami tactics just don’t work. For another thing, I don’t consider Israel to be a commodity to be sold or traded. Israel belongs to the past, present, and future of the Jewish people. I have no right to trade the inheritance of future generations. They have rights, too.

On the other hand, Labor candidate Amram Mitzna was the major opposition to Sharon in the election, and he too, was talking about ceding land, with the structure for his plan also not dissimilar to Disengagement. Now in campaign mode, Sharon claimed that he wasn’t going to pursue his Separation Plan. It was vote for Sharon or vote for one of the smaller right-wing parties. That would have been a throwaway vote.

Sharon made me a little nervous. I saw him as a “loose cannon.” Still, he’d always been in favor of settlement; someone on “our” side, the right. Should I see that Separation Plan proposal as some weird aberration, or just trust that the “father of the settlement movement” would revert to his former self?

Yitzhak Shamir with Ariel Sharon (photo credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

I wasn’t alone in finding this an agonizing decision. My husband also found it a difficult and worrisome task. Ultimately, while many of our friends and neighbors told us they were voting for one or the other of the religious, right-wing parties, we felt that a vote for Sharon was the only way to maximize our votes.

It’s interesting to note that my husband and I don’t always agree on our preferred candidates. But this time, we both came to the same conclusion and voted for Sharon.

As we came out of the classroom of the elementary school in our town where voting took place, we ran into an old friend and neighbor. He confided in us that he’d voted for Sharon. In a sotto voce aside he said to us, “I hope I did the right thing.”

We heard the worry in his voice, his reservations. He had confided in us for a reason. I think he wanted to know how we voted.

I think he wanted to know that we too, had come to the conclusion that strengthening Likud made the most sense. He wanted to know that Sharon wasn’t going to do something crazy, something utterly unpredictable. He wanted reassurance.

We could do very little to reassure our friend. We simply confided that we too, had voted for Sharon and were hoping for the best.

We all know the end of that story.

Left-Wing Policy

Jumping ahead to elections in 2009, my husband and I argued, sometimes bitterly, over how we planned to vote. After the debacle, as I saw it (as we both saw it), of Disengagement, I had decided that I would never again vote for a candidate who proposed or carried out left-wing policy while masquerading as a son of the right. That was how I saw Bibi.

In 1996, he spoke reciprocity then gave away Hebron. Later on, he was forced to publicly acknowledge an extramarital affair. I thought, “If he isn’t faithful to his wife, how can I trust him with my country?”

After Sharon, I was looking at politicians through a magnifying glass. I didn’t want to have even partial responsibility in another Disengagement. I didn’t want to vote for yet another candidate purporting to be right-wing who would give away my land.

Not Far Right

So I did something really wacky. I voted for the party line that most meshed with my values and what do you know? That turned out to be the far right National Union party.

That was kind of odd because I’d never thought of myself as far right. I thought of myself as right-wing, to be sure, but not far right. I realized that the National Union was a bit, well, fanatic. But I could not disagree with any of their platform. They wanted what I wanted.

And I was sick of maximizing my vote and then feeling like a criminal when my candidate did the exact opposite of what he’d promised. My husband was annoyed at me for my throwaway vote. I’m sure he thought I was being immature. I didn’t care.

Flash forward to Operation Pillar of Defense.

President Barack Obama with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington, DC in March (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90)

Bibi caved. He caved in to U.S. demands and agreed to (an unsigned, mind you!) ceasefire agreement rather than going in and doing what 70% of Israel’s population had wanted him to do in Gaza, a ground operation. Not unlike Sharon going against the referendum held by his party in which there was a clear vote against Disengagement. But Sharon went ahead and rammed it through.

We don’t know what goes on behind the scenes. The rumors fly thick and fast. Debka says Bibi agreed to the ceasefire because President Obama promised to send U.S. troops to the Sinai. Oliver North told Fox News that President Obama might have threatened to refuse Israel replacement airplane parts. Some say that President Obama promised he’d stop Mahmoud Abbas from seeking observer status at the UN.

Speculation is rampant. To paraphrase the boys in South Pacific, “What ain’t we got? We ain’t got facts.”

What this gal wants is TRANSPARENCY.

If Bibi wants my vote, he has to come out with it: what did they have on him, to force him to back down on a ground incursion that most of the country wanted him to okay?

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, center, meets with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, right, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr, left, in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. (photo credit:AP/Egyptian Presidency)

Otherwise, I’m not voting for him. It’s as simple as that. I may not even vote for him if he does come clean and tell us about the nature of the leverage foisted on him by President Obama. But I have the right to make an informed choice.

Instead, I’m going to vote for the party that speaks my (right-wing) language. Some of my friends say I’m going to do it again: throw away my vote and weaken the Likud so it can’t implement right-wing policy.

I don’t care. I voted for Sharon and I regret that. I’ll regret it for the rest of my life.

Furthermore, we have Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s statement to Channel 2: “We don’t have to listen to the public on these issues – the leadership must make the decisions.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Just like Sharon, our leaders are running roughshod over us, making decisions against public will. I, for one, am not going to stand for it.

I am not willing to be responsible for Hamas restocking and starting the whole thing over again because my leader didn’t listen to his people. I don’t want any part of those rockets.

I voted for Sharon.

I won’t vote for Bibi.

An Israeli man examines the damage caused to a house in Sderot by a Kassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Sunday (photo credit: Edi Israel/Flash90)


About the Author
Varda Epstein is a blogger and Communications Writer for