EC Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Dies At 85

The Wall Street Journal put it mildly in an editorial:  “[Netanyahu’s] attempt to blame a dying and helpless Mr. Sharon for Likud’s drubbing . . . was not a class act.”  Indeed, it was tasteless, opportunistic, and among the reasons why so many people view Netanyahu as being pathetic and demonic—but it was certainly consistent with his treatment of both Rabin and Sharon.

Most Israelis believe at least one of two long-time dreams is unattainable; namely, the idea of a “Greater Israel,” and of a negotiated peace with the Palestinians.  Contrariwise, the Palestinians have steadfastly refused to repudiate their dream of a “greater Palestine,” stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, which—in the words of Yossi Klein Halevi, an Israeli journalist and writer—“would supplant and destroy the Jewish state.”

Halevi further opined: “The settlement movement ignored the moral corruption of occupation and the demographic threat to Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state posed by the forcible absorption of several million Palestinians into Israeli society.”  And he added: “Israel will almost certainly find itself without Greater Israel—and without peace.  . . . Confronted with the possibility of a nuclear Iran committed to Israel’s destruction and with a terrorist state emerging in Gaza and the West Bank, Israelis need the sustenance of dreams.”

President Bush pledged to help create an independent Palestinian state before the end of his second term, which suffered a fatal blow with the loss of Sharon, and ended Sharon’s personal ambition to set Israel’s permanent borders too.  The Times of the UK quoted one official as saying: “It [was] unbelievable.  He was the Prime Minister.  Nothing moved without going through him.  Everything was connected to him and then he faded away,” the official said, with a click of his fingers.

Perhaps the return to business as usual showed the strength of Israel’s democracy and political system, which has been surprisingly stable; or maybe it was a sign that his stroke had not shaken the country to the same extent as the assassination of Rabin.  Or maybe it was simply another reminder of how fame is fleeting, and the public’s attention span is short in Israel and other media-driven societies, especially in the age of 24-hour news cycles.  Yet, Sharon is missed; that much is certain—and I never thought that I would write those words or feel this way.[3]

I disagreed with his settlement policies for many years, believing they were harmful to the settlers who trusted him because ultimately they would feel betrayed; and that such policies were unnecessarily confrontational and antagonistic to the Palestinians.  However, I have missed “Arik,” and I know people in various parts of the world, Jews and non-Jews alike, feel the same way.  He was a giant of Israeli politics.  More than that, he was a lion—albeit a rotund one—God love him.

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