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July 29, 2014 / 2 Av, 5774
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Arik Is Dead


The late Arik Sharon as I would like to remember him, leading the brigade that crossed over to the Egyptian side of the Suez Canal during the 1973 Yom Kippur War (here with  Defense Minister Dayan).

The late Arik Sharon as I would like to remember him, leading the brigade that crossed over to the Egyptian side of the Suez Canal during the 1973 Yom Kippur War (here with Defense Minister Dayan).

Ariel Sharon, aka Arik, Israel’s 11th Prime Minister and perhaps its most heroic and controversial leader, passed away today at age 85.

On December 18, 2005, then Prime Minister Sharon suffered a mild stroke, followed on January 4, 2006 by a second, far more serious stroke, from a massive cerebral hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain).

On April 6, then President Moshe Katsav (now in jail for sex abuse) formally asked Ehud Olmert (convicted on, and still facing corruption charges) to form a government, making him Prime Minister-Designate.

Thus came to an abrupt end a stellar military and political career, rife with victories, betrayals, achievements and losses.

Israelis from my generation grew up with stories of Arik Sharon the legendary founder and commander of special forces Unit 101. Fifty young men, mostly former paratroopers, were ordered in 1951 by then Prime Minister David Ben Gurion to retaliate for attacks across the Egyptian and Jordanian borders by fedayeen irregulars, against Jewish civilians and their property. Eventually, Unit 101 began to carry out offensive guerrilla warfare missions.

In the fall of 1953 came the first stain on Sharon’s reputation as a warrior, during his unit’s reprisal action for a fedayeen attack in the Israeli village of Yehud. They attacked the village of Qibya, in the disputed territories under Jordanian rule. 69 Arab civilians, including children, were killed when Sharon’s troops dynamited buildings there.

Unit 101 was eliminated and its men were assigned to the Paratroopers Brigade, which Sharon eventually commanded.

The next key controversy in Sharon’s career took place during the Sinai Operation of 1956, when his forces emerged victorious from the bloodiest battle of that war, at the Mitla pass. Historians have blamed then Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan for the way the battle developed, and assigned additional blame to Sharon for his unnecessary aggressiveness, which ended with 38 Israeli dead.

Over those volatile years, Sharon was losing the support of Israel’s political class, which didn’t trust his judgment, despite his obvious leadership skills and his intelligence. Ben Gurion is reputed to have quipped about Sharon: “Is he still having problems with the truth?” For this reason, after several years as commander of the southern front, Sharon was passed up for an appointment as IDF chief of staff.

In August, 1973, Sharon left the military and began his political career, first with a left-leaning party named Shlomzion, and then with the right wing Likud. But a short time later, as the Yom Kippur war erupted and Israel political and military leadership were in a state of near-panic, Sharon was given command over a division at the southern front. That’s when the controversial general, defying his orders–and jeopardizing another division with which he was supposed to cooperate–changed the outcome of the war, taking the fighting to the Egyptian side of the Suez Canal.

In 1981, Sharon joined Likud leader Menachem Begin’s second term as prime minister, landing the position of Defense Minister. Those who didn’t want him as IDF chief of staff now had to accept him as the political boss of the chief of staff.

Sharon’s next, possibly most infamous scandal took place during the 1982 Lebanon war, with the massacre in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila that was perpetrated by the Christian Falange in retaliation for the assassination of their president. Sharon was accused—and later found guilty by an investigating committee—of providing logistical support to the Falange.

Sharon was forced to resign from his Defense post, but continued to serve as government minister under Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.

Throughout his years as Likud minister in various capacities, Sharon was considered the friend and patron of the settlement movement, to the point where his name was synonymous with Jewish life in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and the Golan. His contribution in terms of budgets and support was unequaled by any other Israeli politician.

Which is why it came as such a shock to the settlers and to all the lovers of Eretz israel, when, in May 2003, Prime Minister Sharon endorsed the Road Map for Peace proposed by the U.S., the E.U. and Russia, starting a dialogue with the PLO’s Mahmoud Abbas towards the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Around that time, Sharon was investigated for his involvement in the Greek Island Affair and illegal fundraising during the 1999 election campaign. In the Greek Island Affair, Sharon was accused of promising (as Foreign Minister) to help Israeli businessman David Appel in a development project on a Greek island in exchange for large payments to Sharon’s son Gilad.

Shortly thereafter, Sharon decided to impose a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, including the removal of some 8,600 Jewish residents in the settlement block known as Gush Katif.

Miraculously, the corruption charges against him were dropped due to “lack of evidence.”

This plan was met with opposition inside his own Likud party, and so, on November 24, 2005, Sharon left his Likud party—of which he was the leader—and announced the establishment of Kadima, with many from the left wing of Likud, and right-leaning Labor politicians.

Kadima was created for one reason – the expulsion of 8,600 Jews from gush Katif. In August, 2005, the IDF and the police deported these Jews, many of whom had been placed there by Minister Ariel Sharon. Their homes, synagogues, hothouses and industrial structures were demolished as part of Israel’s unilateral “disengagement.” Whatever had been left behind, was burned down by the Gaza Arabs.

These unfortunate Jews, some of whom still live as refugees in their own country, impoverished and isolated, couldn’t help feeling that Sharon’s stroke, only a few months after he has inflicted so much pain and suffering on them, had to have been meted by a Higher Power.

To date, most of the public servants who were involved in the Gush Katif uprooting have been demoted from their jobs, some because of corruption and criminal behavior, others because the voters have turned their backs on them.

Sharon’s death may serve as a message from the Divine, coming as it has done when some in the government, may they all live to 120, are considering a far wider expulsion of Jews from Judea and Samaria.

 

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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46 Responses to “Arik Is Dead”

  1. Baruch Dayan h’Emet

  2. Gurpreet Singh says:

    Blessings

  3. Ding dong the witch is dead! :)

  4. Anonymous says:

    Rest in peace, Arik. We're going to miss you. Condolences to your family and friends.

  5. George Harsanyi says:

    Blessed his memory forever.

  6. Robin Rosenblatt says:

    Ariel Sharon wanted to bring to Israel Texas Longhorn Cattle "Desert cattle" to help the ranches and farms. One way to honor and remember him would be to help make his dream come true. http://longhornproject.org

  7. May be rest in peace.

  8. Sam Gilon says:

    He instilled fear into the minds and hearts of Israel's enemies. He "spoke" to them with a laguage they understood – if force is not enough use more force…He went straight for the jogular.
    He loathed Arafat, who (in his eyes) was a war criminal, and rightly so. He saw the Palestinian Authority as a bunch of terrorist gangsters in Armani suits and he demolished it without blinkung an eye. He cleaned up the mess of terrorism left by Rabin and Barak in the wake of a preceding mess – Oslo.
    His leadership came from within his character. It was natural. he didn't care for a photogenic shape or politically correct wordspeak. They don't breed people like this any longer…

  9. Arik Sharon did not commit any crimes. Period. Israel needs a leader like him right now.Michael Lerman, M.D., Ph.D.

  10. Ariel Sharon was a powerful man!

  11. Dan Silagi says:

    Ariel Sharon was a man of uncommon bravery and valor. But his greatest accomplishment as both a soldier and as a statesman was to pull Israelis out of Gaza, which was indefensible under Israel's of engagement. Sharon recognized that it was wrong for Israeli soldiers to put themselves at risk to defend a bunch of zealots.

    It's highly debatable whether that policy worked; Gaza is now a hotbed of terrorism, as it was when Jewish settlers lived there among the terrorists. But short of kicking all the Palestinians out, which would be even more indefensible, it was the best that could be done.

  12. The same is true of more remote areas of the West Bank. Conversely, I'd like to see Israel excise certain heavily-Arab areas.

  13. Martin Uncyk says:

    We miss you and thank you Ariel "Arik" Sharon z"l for everything you did for Israel. The good things and the maybe not so good things. .Be Smachot, ad Mea ve Esrim.

  14. Cody Flecker says:

    No Jew who gives up Jewish land and uproots Jewish settlers,deserves to be recognized. Hashem punished Sharon for his anti Jewish behavior. He he has to tell his side of the story to Hashem, which will not be pleasant.

  15. these larger than life founding fathers are, sadly, mortal. their passing diminishes us all. we won't see their like again.

  16. atara says:

    How dare this writer & rag of a publication claim, at the end of this article, to know what “Divine” message was manifested in Sharon’s death. The implied underhanded threat to Netanyahu is just revolting. It’s pure hubris, typical of such a lacking publication and its readership. A friend sent me this article. I am not among its readers. If I were I’m sure I would suffer a major stroke. And yes, that would be a message from above.

  17. Tara Herman says:

    How dare this writer & rag of a publication claim, at the end of this article, to know what “Divine” message was manifested in Sharon’s death. The implied underhanded threat to Netanyahu is just revolting. It’s pure hubris, typical of such a lacking publication and its readership. A friend sent me this article. I am not among its readers. If I were I’m sure I would suffer a major stroke. And yes, that would be a message from above.

  18. Ariel Sharon was ill in his last goverment, becouse his change behavior giving Gaza to the Palestinians, I thing his doctors knew his condition, but they didn't say any thing,

  19. Douglas Kent says:

    Maybe you should ask the people who are now homeless what they think of Mr.Sharon.He urged people to build Gush Katif.People lost their kids to terrorists there.I had a cousin from Argentina who was murdered there. As for giving back Gaza they have already fought two wars as a result of HAMAS rocket attacks launched out of the land he masered to the Arabs. He could have gone down in history as a great hero,a Jewish Bonaparte. Sadly,he abandoned his greatness and in the words of Maran Ovadia Yosef, was a very "cruel" man.

  20. James Johnston Ferguson says:

    my deepest sympathy and respect goes out to Ariel's family -friend's and the people of YIsrael ! it was with great sadness over in England that I heard of Ex minister Sharon's passing ! R.I.P. Sir …

  21. For the sake of Middle East peace and the survival of the western world as we know it, I hope that there are more like Ariel up and coming in Israel

  22. The far right Christians in America have the copy right for this obnoxious comment. I think it was Pat Robertson who stated years ago that "Sharon was punished by God for uprooting the Jews from Gaza". Ultra orthodox Jews, Christians and Muslims are the only ones who have God as a friend on facebooke so they must know, cuz they get personal messages from him.

  23. my condolences to his family and Israel for their great loss, I have kept Sharon in my thoughts all these years, I really felt he would pull through…cannot image why the sudden deterioration but I trust God is in control and after hanging on all these years he showed what a fighter for life is was.

  24. Eva Feld says:

    WOW! What a singular powerhouse! A visionary with a militaristic mind. A visionary who understood underhandedness. A visionary one could love to hate Ariel Sharon. May he rest in peace.

  25. Moishe Pupik says:

    Dan Silagi · To date the deportations resulted in 10,000 ruined Jewish lives, hundreds injured and killed in Israel, thousands killed in Gaza, devastation and poverty in Gaza, a kind of dark age comparable to North Korea and some parts of Africa.

    That's all Sharon's doing. Never mind his known support of the massacre of so many Arab civilians in the hands of the Christian militia.

    I see you like your heroes dripping with civilian blood. May I suggest Adolf Eichmann?

  26. Miriam Gabay says:

    May he rest in peace and bless his family and prayers go out to them.

  27. Moishe Pupik says:

    Tara Herman · Would you rather they said the universe is meaningless and there are no divine messages?

  28. Moishe Pupik says:

    Manny Haimoff – I fail to understand why having faith is obnoxious? I believe Sharon was punished. You are free not to, but for some reason the fact that I believe there is order in the world and a Judge and Judgment is abhorrent to you.

    It's as if only moral and spiritual ambivalence are certain in your intellectual and spititual worlds.

  29. Remarkable bravery!

  30. Gaza is a Jewish land? OK, maybe we should take back Gaza and give them Tel Aviv since it's not part of the promised land. How about Eilat? definitely not part of the promised land.

  31. Victor Martin Peres says:

    Amen and Blessings…forever

  32. We may never know why Arik had the 180 degree turn around of his ideological beliefs and principles. We could not, and still can not, understand how this great soldier and leader who encouraged the settlement of Gush Katif would be the same person who ordered these "salt of the earth" Jews to get out of Gush Katif after these hard workers invested years of sweat and hard labor to make the desert bloom – and we got NOTHING but thousands of kassam rockets in return from the arabs "peace partners" for our one sided generosity. We could only play the guessing game of possible causes: unbearable US pressure to start a "peace process"? too much cost to the military? or some secret event that forced to change his mind. In any case, we can not judge his brilliant military carrier and daring conduct on the battle field by this single greatest debacle of his political leadership. May Arik rest in peace and may his family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. May the Gush Katif refugees find good housing, good jobs and may they be able to continue their heavenly work of making the desert bloom once again.

  33. Michael Sean Fisher says:

    Somehow, someday, Gush Katif will rise again

  34. HE HAS PLAYED HIS PART IN THE HISTORY OF ISRAEL, NO DOUBT ABOUT THAT IN FACT POSTERITY WILL REMEMBER HIM FOR HIS EFFORTS TO HIS GENERATIONS

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