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.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Education Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    JNS.org – My wife Suzy and I will never forget our wedding day. It was not just the uplifting ceremony and beautiful party that left an indelible mark. Some life-altering advice that we received from one of our guests informed and shaped our lives from that day forward. My high school teacher, Rabbi Moshe Yagid, pulled us aside just before the chuppah and challenged us to choose one mitzvah that would be the foundation of our marriage and our lives. He explained [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    JNS.org – Influenced by his Jewish upbringing and a summer on a kibbutz, basketball coach David Blatt is embarking on his highest-profile challenge yet: coaching LeBron James, the four-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player who has made waves for returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. After guiding Israel’s storied Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball franchise to its 51st Israeli league championship and 6th Euroleague title this past season, Blatt landed the Cavaliers head-coaching job in June. Just weeks later, [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    JNS.org – At the turn of the century, a young Jewish immigrant arrived in New York. So begins the history of many American Jewish families. It is 27-year-old Albert Allaham’s story, too, with a few unusual twists. Albert’s “century” is the 21st—he arrived almost 100 years after the massive waves of European Jewish immigration. Rather than coming from a small town along the Danube river, his shtetl was Damascus. His first American business was not a pushcart on the Lower East [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    Did you know that in the entire Bible, only one birthday is mentioned and it is that of Pharaoh? And did you know that according to some scientists, by accepting Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, it is impossible to prove or disprove that the sun is the gravitational center of our solar system? In his new book, REBBE, best-selling author Joseph Telushkin reveals many surprising and sometimes shocking details as he chronicles the life and teachings of the charismatic Rabbi [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Mitzvos New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    JNS.org – Omelet sandwich: 5 shekels. Iced coffee: 5 shekels. Tuna sandwich: 5 shekels. Fresh-squeezed orange juice: 5 shekels. Cheese bureka: 5 shekels. There’s plenty more on the Cofizz menu, but you get the idea. Dani Mizrahi and Amir Amshalm, two Israeli men in their early 30s, asked themselves: Why not launch a take-out food joint in busy neighborhoods around Jerusalem where everything—and that means everything—goes for five shekels, or about $1.50. They’d seen the concept take off in Tel Aviv, where [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    The new FX Network drama Tyrant was shot entirely in Israel, just 10 miles north of Tel Aviv, Bloomberg News reported last Tuesday. Tyrant follows the life of an Arab dictator’s second son Barry, played by Adam Rayner, who reluctantly returns home to the Middle Eastern nation of his birth to join the family business away from his suburban life in America. The elaborate set production for the primetime drama included a crew of 300 and a reported cost of over $3 million [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Skokie, Il-born 25-year-old Erin Heatherton (Erin Heather Bubley) is rocking the modeling world. And in a new interview accompanying a cover spread for Miami’s Ocean Drive magazine, she says Jewish moms are “constantly trying to set her up with their sons.” Imagine that – who would have thought? “The moms, they’re doing what they do. It doesn’t matter what country they live in, what city – grandmothers, too,” she admitted. “But I’m probably going to do that too one day.” Heatherton was [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Israel First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    Some 15 Turkish university professors and lecturers will take part in a first of its kind seminar at Holocaust museum Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies starting next week. The trip is especially significant as Holocaust denial is rampant in the Arab world. A Palestinian professor was recently forced to resign after he led a trip to the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz. Participants in the week-long program at Yad Vashem will experience in-depth tours of the museum’s archives and [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.