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January 12, 2014 10:25 am

When Ariel Sharon Welcomed a Roman Catholic’s Prayers

avatar by John Moody

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Sharon's 143rd Division, crossing the Suez Canal, in the direction of Cairo, 15 October 1973. Photo: Wikipedia.

Ariel Sharon’s body bowed inevitably to the laws of nature this weekend. And that is as it should be. For during his lifetime, Sharon himself was as close to a force of nature as anyone I have ever known. Two very different meetings with the former Israeli war hero and prime minister will explain my point of view.

In 1982, as a young correspondent for United Press International, I was in Lebanon to report on the Israeli military’s incursion into that country. The goal of the government of Menachem Begin was to expel the Palestine Liberation Organization from the cozy headquarters it had established in Beirut, among the most magical of cities.

No ordinary military venture was this. Israel was trying not only to win an armed conflict, but also to fight to a draw, or better, in the battle for the world’s sympathy. The PLO used Lebanon as its staging area to launch cross-border attacks, kidnap Israelis, and train future terrorists. Begin decided this must stop. And to ensure it did, he sent Ariel Sharon, then minister of defense, at the head of the Israeli Defense Forces. Already a storied warrior for his courage and leadership, Sharon entered Lebanon determined to deal the PLO a blow from which it would not recover quickly.

As his column of armored vehicles passed through West Beirut, I caught a glimpse of Sharon – even then seeming larger-than-life – and determined I would ask him a few questions. With a microphone in one hand, I tried to mount his armed personnel carrier. One of the soldiers attached to his detail apparently thought the microphone might be dangerous (and what person who regrets having been quoted in the news would not attest that they often are?), and planted the butt of his rifle in my face. My last memory was seeing Sharon’s shaggy head turn for a second in my direction, then return his steady gaze to the scene before him.

To say that the Israelis were welcomed in Lebanon would be stretching the facts. Nor did the incursion result in Begin’s promise of “forty years of peace.” It did, however, succeed in getting Yaser Arafat and the leadership of the PLO to leave the country. Sharon quickly earned the nickname, “The Butcher of Beirut” for his ferocity, not one that he enjoyed, but which he thought a small price to pay for his country’s security.

About 20 years later, I saw Sharon again, under different circumstances. I was then the vice president of Fox News, in Tel Aviv to interview the prime minister, who happened to be Ariel Sharon. The tremors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks were still reverberating in the United States, and few countries knew that feeling better than Israel. Earlier that month, a column of IDF troops had been ambushed in the West Bank town of Jenin, prompting an Israeli attack that, in most news reporting, was referred to as the “Jenin Massacre,” not because of the loss of Israeli life, but because of Palestinian casualties (Fox did not use that term, something that Israeli viewers noticed and appreciated).

When I entered Sharon’s surprisingly modest office, he stood to greet me. Before we clasped hands, I expressed my condolences on the loss of his troops’ lives and asked him if he would accept a Roman Catholic’s prayers on their behalf.

And Ariel Sharon — the “Butcher of Beirut,” the epitome of “Israeli evil,” the “monster” depicted through much of the Middle East as glorying in bloodshed – Ariel Sharon began to weep. He embraced me in his burly grip – a not altogether pleasant experience – and said, “Jews don’t get many prayers said for them. We have to take them wherever they come from.”

Later in our meeting, I told Sharon about my first decidedly short encounter with him in Beirut. He grinned, put a palm on my cheek and observed, “You seem to have recovered.”

We will all recover, eventually, from the loss this weekend of Ariel Sharon. But we will not forget a man who was not afraid to defend his faith, his country and his people.

John Moody is Executive Editor and Executive VP of Fox News.

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  • BASED ON THE AMERICAN ADAGE THAT:
    “YOU ARE AS GOOD AS YOUR LAST CHECK”

    anyone that wishes sharon was around to lead the country should submit along with their hopes and prayers exactly what particular area of ISRAEL were you supporting that sharon give away to the arabs?

  • cela ete un grand homme et grand stratege je pense qu il restera une grande figure d israel.

    “this was a great man and a great strategist I think that it will remain a major figure of israel.”

  • Great article thanks Mr.Moody

  • Sandy Brown

    I lived in Beirut in 1972. I do not have a lot that is nice to say about it. I was glad to get out. But them I am so anti-Arab that that explains it. I do not have any respect for them at all. I knew these two Palestinian journalists in London and they used to have coffee in the same cafe as me in the Kings Road. One day they came in and they said: “Arafat has died”. And before I could help myself, I started to laugh. We never spoke to each other again. Well that did not bother me in the slightest. All they did was slag off the Jews whenever I talked to them. They were so full of venom and hatred.

  • dantebenedetti

    we very much appreciate the remembrance of this extraordinary man a”h z”l. (it is a tribute to the author that, in these times, he is able to offer his tribute.) Sharon was remarkable for his unabashed determination to do what was needed to protect his country…he was without malice toward his detractors, even his enemies, as long as they were not committed to killing his people. but, at least until the disengagement from gaza, a mortal enemy could, at his hands, expect destruction, unabated by political correctness or any similar stupidity.

  • tehilla

    an unbiased article, as usualy, by fox news. so unlike many others.

    • FOX NEWS IS OPENLYT XTIAN
      AND MANY NEWS REPORTS ARE OPENLY, I SAID OPENLY BIASED AGAINST ISRAEL. lsiten to how they close the report..listen to how they say the report. this is SUBLIBINAL PERSUASION.MAYBE BETTER TO SAY..FOX NEWS BRAINWASH AGAINST ISRAEL…i find it reulsive that the female hosts wear their crosses representing 2000 years of lies deciet torture murder to JEWS…TO THIS DAY THROUHGH THEIR MISISONARY ACTIVITIES TO JEWS.
      Every time i see their crosses I am reminded of xtians inquisitions pogroms hitlers etc etc. AND ORIELLY CONSTANTLY HAMMERS DOWN THE LISTENERS..AMERICA IS A XTIAN COUNTRY.
      WELL IF THEY WERE TRUE XTIANS THEY WOULD BE APOLOGIZING TO JEWS and tearing down their churches and idols WHICH IS AN ABOMINATION TO THE VERY SAME ”ONE G-D THAT even jeusx when he was a JEW PRAYED TO..the ”one and only G-D at Mt Sinai said
      ” I AM NOT OF FLESH,I HAVE NONE ALONG SIDE ME, I AM ALONE ,NONE OTHER. I AM G-D”
      SO…IF THERE is such a thing as a real xtians he would burn his cross
      and ask THE TORAH JEW
      ”’WHAT DOES G-D WANT OF ME A NON JEW”’
      ‘ESUAV AND THE CHILDREN OF ESAUV ARE THE MOST HATED.’
      The hebrew prophet. Ask a TORAH ORTHODOX RABBI WHERE I QUOTED THAT FROM.
      dont ask a reformdeform or conservative, if they were practicing Jews they would know there is no such thing as a deformed/conservative jew.
      YOU CANNOT ASK PAGANS AND IDOL WORSHIPPERS FOR THEIR PRAYERS WHICH ARE PAGAN PRAYERS…

      TORAH CLEARLY SAID TO SEPARATE FROM OTHER NATIONS”’SO how can you ask for their prayers….
      their gods are dead.
      IF THEY WERE GOD THEY WOULD NOT DIE…
      BUT THEIR IS ONLY ”’ONE G-D” SO THEY ARE NOTHING.
      I SPEAK SO SIMPLE….
      INTERNALIZE WHAT I SAY

  • tehilla

    Will Hashem bless israel to ahve another ariel sharon? i dont know. but i wish he was around. even though i am not a jew, i would certainly feel braver with him in a position to decide israel’s security. May he blessed to rest in the good place and interceed to Hashem for israel’s protection, which he was blessed to do while in this world, physically.

  • Irving D. Cohen

    The comment by the lady MK is as stupid as it is untimely. This intrepid leader, Ariel Sharon, a true Israeli hero, should be eulogized wholeheartedly and thankfully by every Israeli–indeed by every Jew. I don’t wish the lady any bad luck, except that she be removed from office by the same kind prayer that she offered up for this great man.

    May he rest in peace, for he really earned it.

  • H. Givon

    Ariel Sharon’s first concern was the safety and security of Israel and his actions reduced much of the terrorism against the country. This should be the first consideration of Israel’s leaders today. It is time for this democratic country to stop acquiescing to the constant demands of others for dangerous concessions. Israel is the bulwark of freedom in a chaotic region is infested with radicalism.
    Her continued existence is vital to the safety of Western civilization – not sufficiently recognized and appreciated by others.

    • Sofia Bain

      No truer words were said. He was a great man whose concern was for the safety and security of the Israeli People. The world has lost a true defender of the Jewish People and their Land.

      May he rest in Peace, our prayers are with him.

      • Noway, remember Petain, french hero of Verdun battle during the world war I and traitor in ww II as a nazi colaborator . of course, no comparaison, but just to understand how a man can change ! hero in Kipur war and in 2005’gaza withdrawal ?…I let u find the proper word !

    • L. Poddebsky

      You are absolutely correct, H. Givon; the problem is that much of what is known as Western civilisation has lost the will to resist the barbarians.
      There is a precedent in the fate of the Roman Empire.
      It is good that Israel is increasingly looking eastwards, realising that the Old World of Europe and the New World of the USA are suffering from battle fatigue and self-indulgence.

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