I do not know whom Ariel Sharon thinks he is fooling.
Sharon is no pious, peace-loving Israeli citizen simply wanting to visit an area in Jerusalem. Many people may have forgotten who Ariel Sharon is -- but I have not and no Palestinian ever could. The Palestinian blood on Sharon's hands has not even begun to dry.
Ironically, Sharon's visit to Arab East Jerusalem's Haram Al-Sharif came shortly after the 18th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre. Sharon should have been all too aware of the anniversary as the massacre's chief architect. The two-day massacre of more than 3,000 Palestinian men, women and children in refugee camps located in southern Lebanon is one of the most horrific atrocities in modern times.
Sharon's role in the massacre is well documented and undisputed. I unfortunately remember all too well the TV news footage of what happened at Sharon's direction. I was 11 years old when on September 16-17, 1982, completely defenseless and unarmed Palestinians were literally butchered to death by Lebanese Phalangists. Israel, under the leadership of Sharon, gave money, arms and the green light to commit the atrocities. At the time, Israel was occupying southern Lebanon and was supposed to be guaranteeing the safety of the refugees there.
In December 1982, the United Nations declared the massacre an act of genocide. Even an Israeli commission of inquiry, the Kahan Commission, found Sharon (along with Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, who both would later become prime ministers of Israel) "indirectly responsible."
Sharon was forced to leave the Israeli political scene as a result of the fallout from his involvement in the massacre. Sharon, however, has been trying to slither his way back into Israeli politics for a number of years.
So when Sharon says with feigned innocence that he (and more than 1,000 Israeli troops) entered Haram Al-Sharif, a sacred place of worship for Muslims from all over the world, without any intention to provoke unrest, I have a hard time believing his sincerity.
The very fact that Sharon lives in Israel without ever having been brought to justice for the atrocities he has committed is an indescribable blow to the Palestinian psyche and cuts each Palestinian to the core.
His move to visit Haram Al-Sharif was calculated and was intended to promote himself as the next hard-line Israeli prime minister to make no compromise when it comes to Jerusalem, in the mold of Begin and Shamir.
Mr. Sharon, make no mistake: So long as Palestinians live and breathe, we will honor the lives of those Palestinian refugees who lie at your feet -- we will never forget Sabra and Shatila, and we will not be passive victims of your hate and intolerance any longer. Never again!
Zaha Hassan is an attorney who lives in Lake Oswego and is active in the Portland area's Palestinian-American community.