Posted on | January 11, 2014 | 9 Comments
Today, former PM Ariel Sharon passed away. He was a courageous leader & defender of Israel. May his memory be blessed pic.twitter.com/YCEJPPsE6R
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) January 11, 2014
When I was a kid growing up in the 1960s, the endless nightmare of the Vietnam War was the nightly news. And it was therefore an astonishing thing to see the 1967 Six Day War, in which Israel decisively defeated Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Six years later, at a time when the U.S. was withdrawing from Vietnam, Israel again decisively defeated the Soviet-armed Arab powers in the Yom Kippur War.
Ariel Sharon was a top commander in decisive battles of both wars and was justly regarded as an Israeli hero long before he became prime minister in 2001, amid Yasser Arafat’s Al-Aqsa Intifada, the deadliest terror campaign in memory. The Jerusalem Post:
Sharon was one of Israel’s legendary politicians and military leaders. He played an instrumental role in IDF victories in the Sinai desert in both the 1967 Six Day War and in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. His victories on the battlefield, immortalized by the image of him in an IDF uniform with a white bandage wrapped around his wounded forehead, earned him the title, “Arik, King of Israel.”
He was equally fearless in the political arena, where he was the father of two parties, Likud and Kadima. As defense minister in 1982, he oversaw the Lebanon War before he was ousted from office in 1983 as a result of the Sabra and Shatilla massacre for which the Kahn Commission of Inquiry found him indirectly responsible.
But he returned to politics. As construction and housing minister from 1990 to 1992, he was responsible for a massive building effort of 144,000 apartments to house the flood of Russian-speaking immigrants from the former Soviet Union bloc. As the father of the settlement movement, he was also instrumental in building thousands of homes in Judea and Samaria and is famous for urging right-wing activists “to run for the hilltops.”
The anti-Israel voices will of course have terrible things to say about Sharon, but we who remember what he symbolized — in those Cold War days when Israel’s enemies were armed with Soviet weapons — will have reason to be grateful for that tough Jew.
Ariel Sharon, 11th Prime Minister of the State of Israel, 1928-2014. pic.twitter.com/h99qlq2Fi5
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) January 11, 2014