Posts Tagged ‘Ariel Sharon’
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.
Jewish organizations in the United States and around the world remembered the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as a military leader and a fighter for peace.
“His legacy is a more secure State of Israel, safe on its borders and resolved to put an end to the campaign of Palestinian terrorism once and for all,” Barry Curtiss-Lusher and Abraham Foxman, the national chair and the national director, respectively, of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement. “It is not only Israel, but the Jewish people, the U.S., and the international community who have lost a towering figure who offered hope to his people and the region.”
Sharon died Saturday at 85 after eight years in a coma following a massive stroke.
Josh Block, president of The Israel Project, called Sharon an “embodiment of the Jewish state and a heroic protector of her people who will be remembered not only for his strength, but for his courage in pursuit of peace. Sharon’s contributions to bolstering the U.S.-Israel relationship made both nations safer, and kindled the bonds of democracy, liberty, and shared values that we care so much about.”
The National Jewish Democratic Council in a statement called Sharon “a true defender of Israel.”
J Street, the left-wing pro-Israel advocacy organization, said in a statement that “Sharon deserves credit for the intellectual journey he took during his life and for having the courage to lead. His incapacitation, when at the height of his powers, leaves the challenge of making peace to be fulfilled by his successors, notably Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”
Debra DeLee, president of Americans for Peace Now was able to praise Sharon only after she accused him of as a man who “initiated war,” without explaining what war Israel ever initiated.
“Israelis today are saying farewell to a bold leader who toward the end of his political career was transformed from a staunch hawk who initiated war and provocative belligerent actions to a leader who recognized that Israel’s strategic interests lie in an agreement with the Palestinians,” she stated.
DeLee added, “As the sister organization of Israel’s peace movement, Peace Now, we can only hope that Sharon’s pledge would serve as inspiration for the current and future leaders of Israel.”
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said in a statement that Sharon “will be remembered as a true friend of The Jewish Agency, as a military man, a leader of Israel, a statesman, and a genuine partner of world Jewry.” He said Sharon “invested tremendous effort in strengthening Jewish identity, increasing aliyah (immigration to Israel), and combating anti-Semitism around the world.”
Sharon was a “fighter for his country in times of war and a fighter for peace,” said Dr. Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, in a statement.
The Jewish Federations of North America in its statement from Chairman Michael Siegal and President Jerry Silverman said, “Ariel Sharon was a highly regarded military leader, but he was also a peacemaker. One of the country’s most daring and celebrated generals, he was also a man who was able to take bold steps in the hopes of achieving peace.”
Guards at the Knesset made sure that no one wearing anything with the color orange in it was allowed onto the Knesset grounds for Sharon’s lying in state.
Orange was the color of the protest against Sharon’s Disengagement plan from Gush Katif.
Guards checked visitors carefully for orange bracelets, shirts, banners, and other orange colored clothing or paraphernalia.
One person, inadvertently wearing an orange shirt unrelated to the Gush Katif protest, was turned away from the Knesset grounds and not allowed to pay his respects to the former Prime Minister.
Ariel Sharon was one of Israel’s “most outstanding leaders and most daring commanders,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said following a moment of silence in Sharon’s memory.
Netanyahu eulogized Sharon at the start of Sunday’s weekly Cabinet meeting, less than a day after Sharon died at the age of 85, after eight years in a coma following a massive stroke.
“Arik was, first and foremost, a warrior and a commander, among the Jewish People’s greatest generals in the current era and throughout its history,” Netanyahu said. “In all of his positions – defense minister, housing minister, infrastructures minister and foreign minister – Arik contributed to the State of Israel, as he also did as prime minister. I think that he represents the generation of Jewish warriors that arose for our people upon the resumption of our independence.”
Netanyahu added: “He was tied to the land; he knew that it had to be defended. He understood that above everything, our revival is our ability to defend ourselves by ourselves. I believe that he will be remembered in the heart of the Jewish People’s forever as one of our most outstanding leaders and most daring commanders.”
Sharon’s coffin was placed in the Knesset Plaza on Sunday, where his body will lie in state for visits from the public. A thin trickle of Israelis had lined up Sunday afternoon to pay their respects. The funeral is set for Monday, and leaders from around the world are expected to attend, including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
He will be buried on the grounds of his Negev ranch, next to his wife, Lily.
“That’s it. He’s gone. He went when he decided to go,” Sharon’s son Gilad announced Saturday afternoon. The official cause of death was heart failure, though for the last week Sharon had been in renal failure without receiving dialysis, multi-organ failure and suffered from a blood infection.
“My dear friend, Arik Sharon, lost his final battle today. Arik was a brave soldier and a daring leader who loved his nation and his nation loved him. He was one of Israel’s great protectors and most important architects, who knew no fear and certainly never feared vision,” Israeli President Shimon Peres said following Sharon’s death.
“For his entire life Arik stood in the line of fire – in the place where Israel’s destiny is determined,” said former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who succeeded Sharon as head of the Kadima Party and as prime minister after Sharon fell into the coma from which he never awoke, “Arik’s life story is fascinating, extraordinary and unique, imbued with courage, human kindness, vision, and leadership.”
President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to Israel’s security in his condolence message on the death of Ariel Sharon.
“On behalf of the American people, 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,” Obama said Saturday morning, within hours of the announcement of the death of Sharon at 85.
“We reaffirm our unshakable commitment to Israel’s security and our appreciation for the enduring friendship between our two countries and our two peoples,” the statement said. “We continue to strive for lasting peace and security for the people of Israel, including through our commitment to the goal of two states living side-by-side in peace and security. As Israel says goodbye to Prime Minister Sharon, we join with the Israeli people in honoring his commitment to his country.”
Sharon left office in 2006 after a stroke, months after he orchestrated Israel’s forced deportation of its citizens from the Gaza Strip, a policy that led Netanyahu to leave the government at the time.
I would guarantee that there wasn’t a Jew in Israel eight years ago, including the most leftist, cynical and secularist, who didn’t, even if for just one moment, think to himself that Arik Sharon was being punished by God for the crime of the Gush Katif expulsion.
Whether they afterwards denied or ignored it is irrelevant. For an instant, every Jew in Israel understood Sharon’s debilitating stroke as a sign from the universe.
That’s the problem with miracles and signs, and why we Jews don’t use signs as foundations of our faith: they’re fleeting.
Last Shabbat’s parshah–Beshalach–is full of stories of massive, yet ephemeral miracles. We learn how Bnei Yisrael would experience a miracle, and then simply ignore it a few days later, or worse, experience miracles everyday (like the manna) and regard them as commonplace.
It would seem that the purpose of miracles is not to create blind faith, because it fails miserably in that direction, but to serve as a teaching moment, and occasionally for a course correction.
The manna taught Bnei Yisrael about keeping Shabbat and about trusting in God to provide our “daily bread.” The tearing of Yam Suf helped Bnei Yisrael take their first steps away from fear and servitude under the Egyptians and toward trusting in and serving God.
At the end of the Parsha, Amalek attacks Bnei Yisrael, and we see the miraculous and inexplicable interaction between Moshe’s raised hands and the battle with Amalek. The Parsha ends with Joshua “weakening” Amalek, and us, the Jews, being commanded to wipe out any memory of Amalek from the face of the Earth.
Why was Amalek the first to attack Israel after all the miracles and Egypt’s destruction?
Because Amalek is the antithesis of Israel.
Amalek doesn’t believe in divine providence or divine intervention. Amalek believes in coincidence (“Kerry” in Hebrew). They attacked Israel to prove the ideology of a universe with no direction, judge or justice, where all events are random and hence where morality is inconceivable. The only morality of that ideology is the survival of the strongest. There are no values other than those of the people in charge.
And their kerry-coincidence approach to reality constitutes a very strong belief, which is why Joshua, despite his victory, was only able to weaken it, and why it is something we must continue to fight in every generation.
It is only our trust in God, our belief in Divine intervention, that will allow us to win the latest round of this ongoing war against the ideology of coincidence.
John Kerry said about Sharon, “He was prepared to make tough decisions because he knew that his responsibility to his people was both to ensure their security and to give every chance to the hope that they could live in peace.”
He wants Netanyahu to forget that Sharon failed miserably in his pursuit of both peace and security. His mad retreat from Gaza, deporting thousands of Jews, destroying homes, synagogues, fields, equipment, resulted in a lot more bloodshed and destruction than ever before. How can anyone look at Sharon’s abysmal record in Gaza and say they would like to repeat it, but this time make it five times or ten times more terrible?
Our modern day prophet of kerry–aptly named Mr. Kerry–wants Netanyahu to forget about God’s guiding hand in Jewish history, and the retribution that befell the late Ariel Sharon.
It’s no coincidence that Sharon died this week, when it appears that Israel is under dire threats, and fateful decisions lie in the hands of one man who must now choose to have faith in the God of our history, or in the man of coincidence and happenstance.
Netanyahu is our Joshua, and we must be his Moshe, holding up our hands to strengthen him, and to remind him of the One who fights our battles, the true source of our strength, victory and survival.