His Right Hand Man on Ariel Sharon: Humanitarianism Was Strong in Him

“If Israel is an apartheid state, how come Saudi Arabian women are coming to Hadassah and other hospitals [in Israel] for fertility treatments?” asks Dr. Raanan Gissin, former right hand communications man to Ariel Sharon. The question, of course, is not rhetorical.

Dr. Gissin, a former paratrooper and spokesman for the Israeli government who frequently represented Israel on CNN, FOX, and numerous other outlets while Sharon was Israel’s prime minister, was in Boca Raton tonight, and I, lucky enough to be in the neighborhood, got to dish with him over French onion soup about President Bush’s latest efforts.

Dr. Gissin is no longer working for the Israeli government, so he shared some of his perspectives as a civilian. He seems to feel that while President Bush’s latest effort is a long shot, it reflects Bush’s and Olmert’s desire to see progress in the region, and specifically their desire to try for some movement while Israel’s Arab enemies fear Iran and realize Israel and the U.S. may be the only powers that can defend them. “Fear is what generally motivates in the middle east,” he said.

On the subject of some 500 Muslim and 2300 Christian Sudanese refugees presently seeking asylum in Israel, or at least trying to escape being returned to horrors in Sudan or Egypt, Dr. Gissin believes his former boss Ariel Sharon would have welcomed them. “Humanitarianism was strong in him,” Dr. Gissin said.

“You know it’s incredible,” he continued. “People all over the world are invested in protecting the endangered species of animals. But what about the endangered human beings? For example, any group of a different religion [than Muslims] in the Middle East.”

Underneath the palm trees on the balmiest of nights in a city far from war, he told me a story about how Ariel Sharon, as a young man wounded in battle, wandered to a river that was tainted with blood. Severely dehydrated, the young Sharon had no choice but to drink from it. Decades later, when blood from Palestinian suicide terrorism spattered the streets of Jerusalem, and Palestinian suicide bombers’ blood mingled with the blood of innocent Israeli civilians in the streets of Tel Aviv, it was discovered that the underground aquifers in Gaza were contaminated. Despite Palestinian leadership’s unrelenting campaign of war against Israeli civilians, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered that Israeli engineers fix the aquifers and ensure that Palestinian civilians would get clean water.

“[Sharon] always said, ‘You cannot deny people water,’ Dr. Gissin recalled this evening.

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