When I think of Ariel Sharon and what kind of leader he was and the person he appeared to be, I realize that his legacy tells the real truth about Israel, its leadership and its approach towards its enemies.
Let me begin by saying that I have always lived by the basic premise that when a man or woman who has devoted their life to the betterment or safety of the Jewish people passes on, I as a Jew will mourn their loss. With our history, both ancient and modern filled with persecution and murder, we as a people need to appreciate those whose lives were focused around what at least appeared to be, the protection of the Jewish people and or the security of the modern Jewish State of Israel. With that in mind I speak from my heart when I say Rest in Peace Ariel Sharon.
When one examines Ariel Sharon’s life, it is clear that this was a man who was strong and forceful, unafraid, and at times one might say brutal. If we look at the list of Israeli Prime Ministers starting with David ben Gurion in 1948, it is very clear that the two most militant were Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon. It should therefore come as no surprise that Ariel Sharon served under Begin as Secretary of Defense. To me however there is a very clear difference between the two men. Menachem Begin, my personal political hero, was so militant leading up to the establishment of the State of Israel that some described him as a terrorist. However as Prime Minister, an argument could be made that Begin was more moderate than Sharon. To someone without a vested interest in Israel and the Jewish people, Menachem Begin’s greatest legacy was the peace treaty with Anwar Sadat and Egypt. Ariel Sharon on the other hand was seen as far more controversial, even to the point of being called a war criminal by his enemies. As someone who tries to be fair and equitable in my opinions I contemplated his legacy and in doing so realized that Ariel Sharon’s behavior as a leader in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Prime Minister of Israel, actually tells the truth about Israeli leadership and its approach towards Arabs and the Palestinian issue.
Consider this fact. Mohammed Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority, by most accounts a moderate, was quoted as saying, “We have frankly said, and always will say: If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it.” Abbas was the leader of the element within the PLO responsible for the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship in October 1985. It was during this hijacking that Abbas’s people, shot a 69 year old Jewish wheelchair bound man named Leon Klinghoffer in the head and threw his body overboard. I use Abbas as an example to compare the Palestinian’s most “moderate” leader to Israel’s most extreme leader, Sharon.
The incident that causes some people to brand Sharon as a war criminal was the massacre in Sabra and Shatila. Under his command as Secretary of Defense for the IDF, Sharon did nothing to prevent the massacres of Palestinians in these southern Lebanon refugee camps. The massacres were perpetuated by Lebanese militants with connections to the Syrian government, which incidentally was then run by the father of Syria’s existing dictator, Bashar al-Assad. Therefore, if we choose to look at this with brutal and objective honesty, we might say that Sharon was guilty of being complicit in someone else’s crime.
Sharon also would lead the charge for more settlements in what the world likes to refer to as the “Occupied Territories”. For the sake of this discussion I will go along with the term. Subsequently, if we are to accept this logic, Ariel Sharon, the Israeli “war criminal” was primarily most notorious for two things, not preventing the citizens of another country from murdering each other, and for accelerating the building of homes for his residents in the occupied territories.
If we were to take the side against Ariel Sharon we would say that he was cold and callous with no consideration for the well-being of Arabs, particularly Palestinians within Israel and its surrounding nations. As a Jew and a Zionist I can confidently make this statement. We would dance in the streets of every city we reside in worldwide if the most militant of our enemies would be most guilty of not caring if we kill each other and for building homes on the land they occupy. What Ariel Sharon’s life shows us is that even the “worst” of Israel’s leaders still live by a higher moral and ethical standard and are less likely to murder their enemy in cold blood than the majority, if not all of the most moderate of Arab leaders. The world will likely not see it this way because anti-Israel sentiment is becoming a popular fad, but for those who analyze this honestly the truth will be glaringly apparent. Ariel Sharon’s life as an Israeli leader proves this better than anything else ever could.