A Lion of Israel
A Warrior and a Leader of Warriors
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
Ariel Sharon, former Prime Minister of Israel, was buried today in the Jewish state of Israel.
To say, as we did above that Sharon was a former Prime Minster of Israel is far, far, too simplistic and does not give Sharon the credit he deserves for a life of service to his beloved country.
This is the way the New York Daily News put it:
He was a soldier. He was a statesman. He was an Israeli. He was a Jew. And Ariel Sharon was one of the great men of the modern era.
When the times forced warring upon him, he led with brilliance and courage, his against-odds victories crucial to his country’s survival. When the times offered openings toward peace with enemies — openings that often only he could see and use — he was bold in seeking the way forward.
Sharon was one of the great generals of the Israeli Defense Forces. It was Sharon who led the IDF across the Suez Canal and into Egypt cutting off and capturing Egypt’s entire Third Army and securing much, if not all, of the Sinai for Israel in the Yom Kippur War in October of 1973.
Lest the world forget, it was Ariel Sharon who sent Israeli fighter bombers to Iraq and bombed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor. Sharon, along with the entire state of Israel, was publicly scorned for the attack. Secretly, however, world leaders thanked him for his bold action that saved the world from a nuclear armed Saddam Hussein.
Below is a brief time line of Sharon’s public life from the United Kingdom’s Independent:
“1928: Born to Russian immigrants in farming community of Kfar Malal north of Tel Aviv.
1948: Having joined Jewish guerrillas at age 14 in war against British rule in Palestine, Sharon serves with distinction in Israel’s war of independence and is severely wounded in battle.
1953: Heads Unit 101, force carrying out reprisals for Palestinian attacks. After the killing of an Israeli woman and her two children, Sharon’s troops blow up more than 40 houses in Qibya, a village in the Jordan-ruled West Bank. Sixty-nine Arabs die, about half of them women and children. Sharon says later he thought the houses were empty.
1956: Rebuked after engaging his troops in what commanders regard as unnecessary and unplanned battle with Egyptian forces at Mitla Pass in Sinai Peninsula.
1957: Studies military theory at the British Army’s Staff College at Camberley.
1967: Receives broad praise for the command of an armoured division in Israel’s “Six-Day War,” in which Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and Sinai Peninsula.
1971: Placed in charge of curbing Arab violence in Gaza Strip. More than 100 suspected militants are killed and hundreds detained. Attacks by Palestinians go from 34 in June to one in December.
1973: Commands drive by Israeli troops across Suez Canal into Egypt during war. Assault cuts off Egypt’s 3rd Army and helps turn the tide in fighting. His head grazed by bullet during fighting.
1973: Elected to Parliament representing the Likud party.
1974: Resigns from Parliament.
1975: Appointed by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin as an advisor on security affairs.
1977: Likud wins election and is joined by Sharon, who has been elected to parliament.
1977-81: As Menachem Begin’s agriculture minister, begins the push to build dozens of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, despite Palestinian and international protests. Settlements are one of the most contentious issues in current peace negotiations.
April 1982: As defence minister, overrides resistance from Jewish settlers in the Yamit settlement during the Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula, and has their homes bulldozed to rubble.
June 1982: Engineers Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, portraying it as a quick, limited strike to drive Palestinian fighters from Israel’s northern border. But Israeli troops advance to the outskirts of Beirut and war escalates. Fighting continues in southern Lebanon until Israel withdraws in 2000.
September1982: Loses job as defence minister after an Israeli-allied Christian militia kills hundreds of Palestinians at refugee camps in west Beirut, sparking international outrage.
1986: Sharon wins libel suit against Time Magazine in the US, where a jury finds the magazine made a factual error in claiming a secret Israeli report said Sharon had discussed revenge with Lebanese officials before the massacre. But the jury says Time is not liable for monetary damages.
1997: An Israeli court dismisses another libel suit filed by Sharon against an Israeli journalist who wrote that Sharon had deceived former Prime Minister Menachem Begin in leading the country to war. An appeal is also rejected.
2000: As opposition leader, Sharon visits Jerusalem’s Temple Mount to emphasize Israel’s claim of sovereignty. Muslims, who call site the Noble Sanctuary, erupt in violence. Palestinians say Sharon’s visit triggered resumption of uprising, while his supporters contend violence was already planned by Palestinians.
2001: In the midst of a political crisis, wins landslide victory over premier Ehud Barak in the election for Prime Minister.
2003: Wins early elections and remains Prime Minister. Later starts the construction of Israel’s separation barrier in West Bank in response to wave of Palestinian suicide bombings.
February 2005: Announces, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a cease-fire in Palestinian uprising.
August 2005: Begins a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and a small part of the West Bank, after reversing decades of support for Jewish settlement construction and expansion.
November 2005: Amid growing dissent within Likud over the Gaza withdrawal, leaves the party with many key allies to found centrist Kadima with eye on elections set for the following March.
December 2005: Suffers a mild stroke and leaves hospital two days later.
January 2006: On the eve of a scheduled heart procedure, suffers a massive stroke and falls into a coma.
May 2006: Sharon, still in a coma, is transferred from Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem to a long-term-care facility at Tel Aviv’s Chaim Sheba Medical Center.
August 2006: Doctors announce that his condition has greatly deteriorated.
2010: Sharon is moved to his ranch in southern Israel. But days later, he is returned to Sheba.
2011: One of Sharon’s sons says his father can move his eyes and fingers when spoken to.
January 2013: Medical experts say new tests show significant brain activity by Sharon, but say he remains in a deep coma.
11 January 2013: Dies at age 85.” — SOURCE: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/timeline-the-life-of-former-israeli-prime-minister-ariel-sharon-9053308.html
A number of conservative commentators have voiced concern that President Obama will not be attending Sharon’s funeral. Instead, Obama issued the following statement: “Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the family of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and to the people of Israel on the loss of a leader who dedicated his life to the State of Israel. We reaffirm our unshakable commitment to Israel’s security and our appreciation for the enduring friendship between our two countries and our two peoples.” Obama then went on to restate his “commitment to the goal of two states living side-by-side in peace and security.”
Vice- President Joe Biden led the US delegation to Sharon’s funeral.
Mr. Obama is sending a message, loud and clear, by attending the funeral of Nelson Mandela — but not the funeral of Ariel Sharon. Mr. Sharon was not a communist.
“Arik” has left an indelible mark on history – both Israeli history and world history. His like will not be seen again. And the world will be the worse for it.
J. D. Longstreet