Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Ariel Sharon – Hallowed Warrior Leaves Complicated Political Legacy (OBITUARY)

January 12, 2014 8:12 am 0 comments

Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger meets with Minister of Defense Ariel Sharon of Israel in his office in the Pentagon. Photo: Pentagon.

A wise man once said it is difficult to predict the future but harder still to predict the past. Such is the case with Ariel Sharon. Even eight years in a comatose state wasn’t enough time to define his niche in history.

Perhaps not for Hamas and terrorists in Lebanon: They and their supporters labeled Sharon as a baby-devouring, mass murdering, war criminal devil when he was alive; use your imagination as to what their talking heads spouted on Hezbollah’s Al Manar satellite TV or Al Jazeera when word came of his death.

For Israelis however, Arik Sharon’s legacy is complicated, very complicated.

The left never forgave then Defense Minister Sharon for enmeshing Israel into a quagmire in Lebanon in 1982, that while succeeding in routing Arafat’s PLO, also saw the internecine Arab Sabra/Shatilla massacre on his watch which led to Sharon’s resignation as Defense Minister.

Throughout his tumultuous life, when he felt he could make the decisive difference, Sharon, come hell or high water, took decisive action.

The right loved Arik Sharon, dubbing him the “bulldozer for good” for helping to establish Jewish communities from the Golan Heights, to the West Bank, greater Jerusalem and Gaza. They helped build the constituency that would catapult him to prime minister.

Later, his sudden 180 degree move to unilaterally hand over the Gaza Strip to Palestinians, forcing 9,000 Israelis to evacuate their homes, turned Israeli politics on it head.

His loyal supporters were left utterly bewildered and betrayed.

But as with much else in Israel, there is little that is totally black and white. Former MP, Yaakov (Ketzela) Katz, a founder and leader of the Settlement Movement said this in an interview with The Jewish Press:

” I hate what Sharon did but he saved my life and I love him.”

Katz meant it literally. Mortally wounded during the bitter Yom Kippur War, medics left him to die to tend to lesser-wounded comrades. That was until his commanding officer—Arik Sharon intervened, calling in a helicopter to evacuate the young soldier under withering Egyptian fire…

So how to judge such a man?

I think the biblical narrative in the book of Exodus provides some guidance.

When Moses sees an Egyptian taskmaster about to whip a Hebrew slave, the narrative reports that Moses “…looked this way and that way and saw there was no man…” and slew the Egyptian.

Some Jewish commentators don’t interpret those words literally but rather that Moses saw no one else had the guts to intervene. The verse is saying:

“Where there is no man — strive to be a man!”

That was Ariel (Arik) Sharon’s M.O.

Throughout his tumultuous life, when he felt he could make the decisive difference, Sharon, come hell or high water, took decisive action.

Sharon’s courage and daring literally transformed history during the epic 1973 Yom Kippur War, when a stunned Israel was initially caught by surprise by a two-prong Egypt/Syria attack on its holiest day.

After indecisive battles and heavy losses, the pivotal moment in the epic war came when Commander Sharon seized the initiative and led his troops across the Suez Canal.

With Cairo itself suddenly looking vulnerable, the Arabs began to understand that they could never defeat Israel militarily.

Sharon did not wait for approval from the chain of command. He was convinced it was the right thing to do and personally led his troops into battle.

He won big that day and changed the course of history, helping to pave the way for the historic peace mission Sadat made to Israel in 1977, and the Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty in 1979.

Later, as Prime Minister, in 2004-05, Sharon ordered the wrenching Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

He did so because he believed it would help bring peace.

In the short run, he was dead wrong.

It is hard to see what benefits came from Sharon’s draconian Gaza gambit wherein Gaza was delivered on a peace platter to the Palestinians and all the Israelis got in return were thousands of Hamas rockets that continue til this day.

Sharon’s stroke never gave him the opportunity to react to the devastating results of his decision but one thing is clear: The warrior-politician would have taken responsibility for his actions.

And perhaps he would point to one unintended but instructive consequence of the disengagement: The unilateral evacuation of 9,000 Israelis and the no-strings attached gifting of territory to the Palestinians lay bare a brutal truth for all Israelis, left, right, and center — that no matter how the EU diplomats and Secretary of State Kerry try to spin it, Gaza is living proof that too many Palestinians, starting but not ending with Hamas, are unprepared to accept a Jewish State as their neighbor.

Ariel Sharon was no Moses. But to defend his beloved country, he never hesitated to put his personal security, reputation and very life on the line, time and again, when others couldn’t or wouldn’t act.

The “bulldozer” was never deterred by failure nor slowed by triumph.

In 1973, his heroic chutzpah helped save Israel. His Gaza gambit ten years ago failed to advance peace and tarnished his reputation. It seems then that even in death, Ariel Sharon will remain the man they love to hate — and love — for a long time to come.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. Follow the Simon Wiesenthal Center onFacebook and on Twitter.

This article was originally published by FOX News.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Jewish former CNN host Larry King asked a Saudi Arabian fan if taking pictures with Jews is allowed in his country, before agreeing to pose for a photo with the man, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The world-famous interviewer was leaving the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C. with a New York Times reporter when a “dark-skinned man” approached and asked to take a picture with him, according to the publication. Whereupon, King asked the fan where he was from. When the man said Saudi […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    British-Jewish business tycoon Lord Alan Sugar joked on Wednesday that London synagogues will likely be empty during Yom Kippur with congregants fleeing to watch the match-up of two leading English soccer teams known for having hordes of Jewish fans. “Spurs V Arsenal cup game drawn on most important Jewish festival,” Lord Sugar pointed out on Twitter. “Both teams have loads of Jewish fans. Conclusion Synagogues will be empty.” North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC will go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup third-round […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Two Jewish men were the only unwitting participants in a social experiment conducted by Jimmy Kimmel, for his popular TV show. As part of a candid-camera-like sketch featured Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host devised different street scenes to observe human behavior — in particular, to see how long it would take people walking down California’s bustling Hollywood Boulevard to notice and interact with others in distress. One scene involved a man in a Spongebob Squarepants costume who had “fallen down” on the sidewalk and needed help […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    A major Jewish organization rebuked actress Natalie Portman on Monday for saying in a recent interview that Jews put too much emphasis on teaching about the Holocaust relative to other genocides. The Israeli-born movie star told the U.K.’s Independent that the Jewish community needs to examine how much focus it puts on Holocaust education over other issues. She said she was shocked when she learned that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda while she was in school learning only about the horrors of the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    JNS.org – A new book that draws parallels between the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba (the Arabic term for the displacement of Palestinian refugees during Israel’s War of Independence) has sparked outrage ahead of an official book launch, to be hosted by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute on Sept. 7. The Zionist organization Im Tirtzu wrote a letter to the institute demanding that it cancel an event it planned in honor of the book’s authors, under the title The Holocaust and […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Famed actress Natalie Portman warned on Friday against the use of Holocaust education to evoke fear and paranoia. In an interview with the U.K. Independent she added that the trauma should make Jews more empathetic to others who have also experienced hatred. “Sometimes it can be subverted to fearmongering and like ‘Another Holocaust is going to happen,’” the Israeli-American star said. “We need to, of course, be aware that hatred exists, antisemitism exists against all sorts of people, not in the same way. I […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    The Tribalist, by Louis Marano, is ostensibly a work of fiction but at its core a kind of love song by a gentile journalist for the State of Israel, and especially its secular Zionist core. (Because of the relentless attacks by left-wing polemicists on Israel’s allegedly “messianic” fringe, it’s often forgotten that most of Israel’s founders and all its leaders have been secular Zionists.) The author, the product of an Italian-American family in Buffalo, served two tours of duty in […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    JNS.org – Rugelach (singular: rugala) are a beloved traditional Jewish pastry, with a quirky history to boot, but they often present a kosher conundrum. Though parve rugelach are often a preferred dessert after a meat meal for those observing kosher laws (which stipulate a waiting period between eating meat and dairy), some of today’s most popular rugelach are known for their dairy fillings. Pastry chef Paula Shoyer—author of the books “The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy” and […]

    Read more →