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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Ariel Sharon’

Wearing Orange? Don’t Visit Sharon Lying in State

Monday, January 13th, 2014

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.

Sharon Eulogized as Some Show Up to Pay Respects

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

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.”

Obama Reaffirms Commitment to Israel in Sharon Message

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

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.

Sharon’s Message of Faith to Netanyahu

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

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.

The Giant and the General

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

My good friends and former employers at Chabad.org have utilized Ariel Sharon ZL’s passing to educate the public about the latter’s relationship with the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I’m grateful to them for that, even though their obituary comes close to suggesting that Sharon was a hidden Chabadnik. He really wasn’t, and I don’t think the good people of the Lubavitch News Service believe it either.

But they did remind me of two events in Sharon’s life that came in close proximity and had to have influenced his life.

Right after the Six Day War, Sharon led a group of South African military officers—the bad kind—on a tour of liberated Jerusalem, and stopped at the Western Wall. Lubavitch had just set up their tefillin booth there, and the chassid operating it, Reb Aharon Rabinowitz ZL, a former Soviet prisoner, wanted very much to get Arik to roll up his sleeve for Judaism, but was too timid to ask. And so a religious Jerusalemite journalist named Noach Zevuluni, who was writing for the Histadrut trade union’s daily Davar, approached the general with the request. Arik—reluctantly, according to Zevuluni ZL—acquiesced.

There are apocryphal versions of this story, a noted one in which David Ben Gurion is also in the group and refuses to put on tefillin. Another version gathers the entire IDF leadership for the sake of the anecdote, and Arik’s proud example inspires all of them to wrap the straps. The version I cited above is directly from Zevuluni’s writing. Bottom line is: shortly after the war ended, Sharon put on tefillin at the Kotel.

Then tragedy struck. In October, 1967, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, Sharon’s 11-year-old son Gur and his friend, Yaakov Keren, took down an old hunting rifle belonging to Sharon, that hung on display on the wall. They stuffed gunpowder into the gun, and, during play, Yaakov pointed the barrel at Gur’s head and squeezed the trigger. Arik came rushing to the room to find his son lying unconscious on the floor, bleeding from his head. He picked him up in his arms and drove to the nearest hospital, where the doctors declare him dead. (Sharon continued to blame Yaakov Keren of killing his son intentionally, to the point where the Kerens had to leave the neighborhood to avoid the general’s wrath).

These two events, coming so close to each other, raised the interest of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who wrote Sharon a touching and beautiful letter of condolences during the Shiva week that followed his son’s death. Chabad.org offers the entire text online, but I will concentrate on what I believe are the late Rebbe’s poignant observations which he saw fit to share with Sharon.

The Rebbe wrote:

I was deeply grieved to read in the newspaper about the tragic loss of your tender young son, may he rest in peace. We cannot fathom the ways of the Creator. During a time of war and peril you were saved—indeed, you were among those who secured the victory for our nation, the Children of Israel, against our enemies, in which “the many were delivered into the hands of the few, etc.”—and yet, during a time of quiet and in your own home, such an immense tragedy occurred!

It’s the two men’s first encounter, entirely initiated by the Rebbe, and yet he, relentless educator that he was, didn’t waste a beat in launching into a lesson that offered condolences, praise for the general’s military victories, and direction. The document in its entirety is brilliant and daring in equal amounts. To me, it’s obvious that the Rebbe had spotted in Sharon a potential for good that must be cultivated. This was nothing new—the Lubavitcher Rebbe was an unstoppable turbine of inspiration and influence, laboring to change the world from his small chambers on Eastern Parkway, Crown Heights. It’s just that when he was love bombing a notable historical figure, he reached greater heights.

Arik Is Dead

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

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.

Sharon’s Condition Declines, Now Described as ‘Mortal’

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

The medical condition of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has deteriorated in the past few hours, but doctors at Tel HaShomer Hospital in Tel Aviv said Thursday evening.

They described his condition for the first time as “mortal.”

He has been in a coma for eight years, and his condition deteriorated sharply 10 days ago. Doctors said he might live only for a few days and that only a miracle could save him.

Sharon’s family now must decide whether to authorize procedures that could extend his life. perhaps only for hours and possibly for days if not weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/sharons-condition-declines-now-described-as-mortal/2014/01/09/

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