Ariel Sharon's motto could have been 'there's no such thing as a Palestinian' | @guardianletters

Letters: Like Thatcher, Ariel Sharon broke the mould and replaced it with one that is itself now irrevocably broken

Ariel Sharon (Obituary, 13 January) was a man of his time, specifically the years of ideological ferment that followed the collapse of Keynesianism in the 1970s. Like Thatcher, he broke the mould and replaced it with one of his own models that is now left to a younger, more financially constrained, generation to clear up. Thatcher unleashed a debt bubble; Sharon gave birth to Likud and the intensification of the settlement project. Thatcher's iterations were based on the assumption that "there is no such thing as society"; Sharon's were based on the default that "there is no such thing as a Palestinian". Incompetent Keynesian elites were replaced with ideologically sound alternative incompetents. Both models are now irrevocably broken and contaminate the political debate in their respective countries, leaving those behind with far reduced strategic depth.
Cathal Rabbitte
Zollikon, Switzerland

• The apotheosis of Ariel Sharon's career was surely when foreign journalists, myself included, diplomats and other observers entered the Sabra and Chatila Palestinian refugee camps of West Beirut on 18 September 1982, to discover the slaughter of innocents, Palestinian and Lebanese families. Christian militiamen from the Lebanese forces had carried out the task. But we all knew that had not Israeli forces been holding the ring round the camps for three days of siege the killers would never have dared enter; that the Israelis must have permitted – it later turned out, organised – the incursion; and that Sharon's lethal hand was on this operation as surely as it had been on the invasion of Lebanon he launched three months earlier.

It was no surprise: this was the leader of the Israeli army special reprisal unit 101 which had, in 1953, blown up 45 Palestinian homes in the West Bank village of Qibya with the families trapped inside them, killing 69 people, mostly women and children. No evidence was found that any Palestinian incursions into Israel had originated in Qibya.

More recently, Sharon helped rekindle the violence in occupied Jerusalem and the occupied Palestinian Territories in 2000, going on to subdue the largely civilian population with weapons of war: aircraft, tanks and artillery.

Much will be made of the "man of peace" who withdrew the Israeli settlers and army from Gaza in 2005, but this only aimed at freezing any hopes of a Palestinian-Israeli settlement, left Gaza a besieged and even more vulnerable and impoverished entity than it had been before, and cleared the way for Israel to concentrate on acquiring and populating the lands it has always coveted, those between the Mediterranean and the river Jordan.
Tim Llewellyn
Former BBC Middle East correspondent

• Your obituary writer's comment that Sharon felt at peace only on his farm in the Negev overlooks the fact that until 1948 this land belonged to the Abuelaish family, one member of which, Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish, wrote a book in 2011, described by the Guardian as "an impresssive statement of triumph over adversity". Its title, I Shall Not Hate, is testimony to a lifetime devoted to reconciliation, which stands in stark contrast to the philosophy of the man who removed him from his family property.
Roger Symon

The GuardianTramp

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