Former General, Defense Minister and Prime Ariel Sharon was buried at his Shikmim Farm in the northern Negev Monday afternoon as a large number of reporters and small number of private citizens attended.
Egypt and Jordan, the two Arab countries with home Israel has a peace treaty, did not send any representatives to the memorial earlier in the day or to the funeral.
Turkey also did not send an official. Nor did China, Japan, South Africa and India, among other countries.
If old soldiers “just fade away,” then Sharon was one of them. He was considered a great soldier and general but he really did fade away, as evidenced by bitter memories, an eight-year coma and the sparse turnout at the Knesset, where his coffin was displayed on Sunday, and at the funeral Monday afternoon.
There were only three eulogies, two from Sharon’s sons Omri and Gilad and the first by IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, who noted that Sharon was buried at his home after having returned there for the last time following eight years in a coma in hos Tel Aviv hospital room. “The IDF you so cherished will continue in your footsteps for many years,” Gantz said.
The late Prime Minister’s younger son Gilad delivered the last eulogy, noting his father’s political and military contributions. He added that Ariel Sharon built more than 100 communities, particularly those in the Golan Heights m Judea and Samaria.
No one, of course, would note at the funeral that Sharon also destroyed nearly two dozen of those communities in the expulsion from Gaza and northern Samaria in 2005.
Omri Sharon said “Look around Ariel, Look around and see the people who cherish your memory.”
Omri was looking at the people who had to come – the politicians, the military brass and police officers, who outnumbered the 100 or so people who were at the Sharon family farm where Sharon was buried.
More obvious were the thousands of people who did not come, not counting the Arabs.
Three factors kept people away from the funeral – bitter memories on both sides of the political fence, the long coma that made Sharon appear all but dead for years, and scary warnings from official sources of clogged highways and tough security checks.
The Arabs and lefties have only one memory of Sharon, a man who supposedly wanted nothing more to spill as much blood as possible.
The rightwing will never erase the memory of the Prime Minister of Israel ordering bulldozers to destroy the homes of 9,000 Jews and ordering the police and even the armed forces, whose job is to defend the country from enemies, yanking women and children, as well as men who served as combat soldiers and officers in the IDF, from their homes.
Hamas wanted to attend the funeral, which was only about a mile away from northern Gaza, with rocket fire but after having launched a couple in the morning, apparently heeded a stern warning by the IDF of what was in store for Gaza if it tried to do during the funeral.
Earlier in the day, at the memorial ceremony in the Latrun army site, where Sharon was injured in the War for Independence in 1948, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said, “We’ll never know what the ultimate arc of Sharon’s life had been if he had been able to pursue his goal of peace.”
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair remarked, “The state he fought for from the age of 14 had to be protected. When that meant fighting he fought. When that meant peace he sought peace… All Israeli leaders I’ve encountered have something unusual and precious – true love of country, state and land.”
President Shimon Peres, who planted a wreath of flowers after the funeral ceremony, said at the memorial. “You cultivated the land with your scythe and defended it with your sword.”
Not everyone made the expulsion of Jews disappear from memorial speeches. Ze’ev Zambish, long identified with the Amana organization that has built thousands of homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria, commented that the expulsion was “painful” but that he still “has a great love” for Sharon.