Adel Makki handed out sweets on the streets of Beirut, Lebanon, when he heard the news of the death of Ariel Sharon. “I was relieved when I found out that Sharon was dead,” Makki, 19, told AFP. “I think the years he spent in a coma were punishment from God for the crimes he committed.”
The Palestinians, and many others, continue to blame Sharon for a massacre of hundreds of Palestinians and Lebanese Shiites, between September 16 and 18 1982, in the Sabra neighborhood and the adjacent Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, even though the slaughter was carried out by a Lebanese Christian militia.
Sharon, who was Israel’s defense minister at the time, was forced to resign after a commission of inquiry found him “indirectly responsible” for the massacres. He was in charge, following the invasion of Lebanon by the IDF, and so the massacre was his responsibility.
There were no subtlties or nuances in ten-year-old Ahmad Khodr al-Gosh’s mind when he told AFP on Saturday: “I took a piece of candy because the assassin is dead. He killed hundreds of women and children. We are now relieved.”
Until the next car blows up down the block, of course.
The Shatila refugee camp came to life when the news broke, AFP reported. People poured out to celebrate the passing of Sharon.
“You want to know how I feel? I want to sing and play music, that is how,” said Umm Ali, a 65-year-old woman clad in black whose brother died in the massacre.
“I would have liked so much to stab him to death. He would have suffered more,” she added.
Shopkeeper Mirvat al-told AFP she was confident that Sharon is going to meet divine justice. “Of course I am happy that he is dead,” she said. “I would have liked to see him go on trial before the entire world for his crimes but there is divine justice and he cannot escape that.”
Then she commented: “The tribunal of God is more severe than any court down here.”
Not exactly, at least not according to Jewish tradition, which believes that the heavenly court takes into accounts all the actions of a person, sins and merits. That’s why on occasion it takes longer for a person to be punished.
Not a single Palestinian interviewed by AFP, nor the Ma’an news agency where I found this account made any mention of the fact that Sabra and Shatila came at the end of a long history of bloody massacres, none of which, at any point, were committed by any Israeli person.
The Sabra and Shatila killers were a gang recruited by Elie Hobeika, then Lebanon’s military intelligence chief, and the order for the massacre was given directly by Hobeika himself.
Hobeika’s family and his fiancée had been murdered by Palestinian militiamen at the Damour massacre of 1976, which came in response to an earlier massacre of Palestinians by the Christian militia.
Hobeika served many years in the Lebanese Parliament and as government minister. No one ever dreamed of accusing him of killing anyone.
But the 1983 Kahan Commission, appointed by Israel to investigate the final massacre in that string, found that Sharon had failed to take steps to stop it, and so he bore personal responsibility “for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge.”
The commissioned demanded his head and got it. Sharon resigned.
It was stunning to discover the similarities between Sharon’s victims on the Jewish side and those considering themselves his victims in Palestinian refugee camps.
MK Orit Strock (Jewish Home) praised God on her Facebook page for the fact that “Sharon was taken from public life before succeeding in wreaking the same disaster on residents of Judea and Samaria as he did on settlers in Gush Katif and the Gaza border communities.”
Strock said Sharon was “one of the great builders of Israel – and one of its greatest destroyers. He knew how to defeat terror, and also transformed southern Israel into a terror-stricken region…. His great determination and his ability to make a decision and execute it enabled him to attain impressive achievements, as well as disastrous developments.”
David Wilder, of the Hebron Jewish community, wrote in JewishPress.come one week before Sharon’s death: “Ariel Sharon is dying. It’s not considered nice to say bad things about dead people, especially immediately after their passing. So I’m writing this while he’s still alive. Barely. When I heard the news I wasn’t sure if I wanted to laugh or cry. Laugh, that finally, he’s leaving us. Or cry, because his ‘this world’ suffering is coming to an end. That’s how much I like Ariel Sharon. He had many positions, and many titles. I will remember him as a monster.”
Daniella Weiss, one of the leaders of Gush Emunim, told Arutz Sheva: “Sharon caused the expulsion from Gush Katif and northern Samaria – his old age shamed his youth.” And she added warily: “The media uproar around his gradual death is a prelude encouraging the continued expulsion of Jews.”
But while Sharon’s political enemies over the Gush Katif deportations were careful to conceal and hint of joy at his demise, his victims had no such qualms. Students in the Torat Hachayim advanced yeshiva, which was evacuated by Sharon’s forces from the village of Neve Dekalim in Gush Katif, to be rebuilt in Yad Binyamin, the following congratulations leaflet was circulated:
A Hearty Mazal Tov to –
on the occasion of
The leaflet then offers the following passage from the Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah, item 345:5 –
Converts to another religion, and those who turn in Jews to the government, no one mourns them except their direct family members, and all their other relatives dress in white and eat and drink and are merry.
from the family of
In Israel, where freedom of speech is more a nice idea than a hard and fast right, Minsiter of Internal Security Itzhak Aharonovich announced that he ordered police to start an investigation, because “it is inconceivable that such expressions of glee be permitted to be published and cause a divide and a polarization in the nation.”
Of course, more minor incidents such as the brutal, violent deportation of thousands of Jews were in no way a threat to our national unity.
And the community of Neturei Karta in Jerusalem celebrated Sharon’s death Saturday night, with Shabbat clothes and bottles of wine, according to Yisroel Meir Hirsch, who spoke to Walla. “In Jewish halacha there’s a rule that when a hater of God leaves the world, it’s a mitzvah to rejoice and celebrate.”
A good friend of mine, who, like myself, has been following Sharon’s career since the 1950s, but unlike myself was never infatuated with the man, told me Sharon’s death to him means one thing: four days of no radio or television. Because wherever you turn in all of Israel’s media, from today until at least Wednesday, you’ll run into the larger than life persona of Ariel Sharon. And since my friend neither loved nor hated the guy, and since the guy has not been hurting anyone for eight years—he just wants it to be over.
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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