From Canberra Times Letters, 16 Janb 2014, by Bill Arnold:
Ian Birrell judges Ariel Sharon harshly for Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, (''The death of Israeli ideals'', Times2, January 14, p4) but it is important to remember the context.
The south of Lebanon had in effect become a mini-state of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, at the time a heavily armed terrorist organisation bent on destroying Israel.
It had carried out many terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians from its base there.
In relation to the massacre at Sabra and Shatila, Sharon was only guilty of allowing the Christian militia that carried out the atrocity into the camps.
He did not know about the massacre until after it happened.
It says a lot about the coverage of the Middle East that Sharon's link to the massacre is repeatedly raised, but so little is known about the actual perpetrators. Birrell bemoans the ''endless expansion of settlements'' but their boundaries haven't expanded since 2003. He alleges ''dreadful cruelty towards Palestinians'', but Israel has only done what it has needed to do to prevent terrorist attacks.
Had the Palestinians responded positively to Israel's various peace initiatives, including Sharon's Gaza withdrawal, they could have had their state by now.
Bill Arnold, Chifley