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July 1, 2015 / 14 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Ariel Sharon’

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Ketzaleh: I Hate What Sharon Did but He Saved My Life; I Love Him

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

No two politicians could have more of a love-hate relationship than Ariel Sharon and Yaakov Katz.

Sharon is barely holding on to life, and Yaakov “Ketzaleh” Katz, whose life Sharon saved in war and who worked hand in hand with Sharon to bring Jews to Gaza, Judea and Samaria, recalls how Sharon jilted the nationalist movement, expelled Jews and destroyed their homes and synagogues.

Ketzaleh is a former Knesset Member who stood by his nationalist ideology rather than compromise, no matter the political cost. He founded the Arutz Sheva radio station in 1986 and later its Hebrew language Internet site during the dark days of a single-minded Israel media that ignored terrorist attacks and vilified Jews like him who live in Judea and Samaria.

Katz and Sharon knew each other as IDF officers, but in the Yom Kippur War, they met on the battlefield in the worst possible circumstance, when Katz was left for dead after suffering severe wounds.

Katz had been second in command of an elite 12-officer squad that operated under Sharon’s command and was sent behind enemy lines to locate and destroy Egyptian commandos who were trying to keep Israel from crossing the Suez Canal.

An RPG missile struck Katz, almost cutting his body into two parts.

There were so many casualties that medics decided to let Katz die after concluding it was more urgent to give medical to attention to others than to him, whose wounds were so critical they figured he would not live. A request for a helicopter to evacuate Katz was turned down because they were too close to the fighting with Egyptians.

Sharon overruled the instructions and ordered a helicopter, under Egyptian fire, to evacuate Katz to the hospital.

While he laid in the field, Katz vowed that if would survive, he would dedicate his life to education and to building Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Six months later, Katz walked out of the hospital on crutches and carried out his vow.

In an  interview on Thursday with the nationalist religious Galei Yisrael radio station, Katz recalled his and Sharon’s past that took them sometimes on the same path and eventually on two different streets going in different directions.

Among several comments in the radio interview:

 

Sharon brought us into the heart of Gaza for two years in order to eliminate 1,500 terrorists. He was a man of action; he knew how to read the map….

In violation of orders, Sharon ordered a helicopter that was under Egyptian fire to save me. I owe him my life….

I served as his aide in the settlement program when he was Minister of Agriculture and afterwards as Housing Minster in the Shamir government when then was a huge wave of aliyah from Russia. We split up [our work]: I built with Zambish [Ze’ev Zambish, another pioneer in the settlement movement], and Uri Ariel [now Netanyahu’s Housing Minister] 60,000 residential units in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights.

Arik built 60,000 units in Be’er Sheva, Afula, on the southern end of the Galilee) and Nazereth Illit, located in the Lower Galilee.

With God’s help, we tripled the number of Jews in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights….

Aril was like a father for me. I was closer to him than to anyone else and he was similarly close to me….

He was a man of revolutions, of changes, with the strength of a bulldozer to do the best. His home was my home. My home was his home….

Immediately after I built for him the position of Minister of Infrastructure in the Netanyahu government in 1996, he made a strategic decision to disconnect with us [the settlement movement]. Arik was pulled in by the “clubhouse” to separate himself from settlements in order to sit in the chair as head of the government.

I always told him, “Stay away from … [these] people who will corrupt and ruin you. I did not succeed in keeping him from being drawn to them…

Omri [one of Sharon’s sons] blocked me from reaching him. I also did not try any more, even when I was struggling for Arutz Sheva [which was broadcasting from a boat on the Mediterranean Sea and eventually was shut down by the government]….

After he announced he was going to destroy Gush Katif and [four Jewish communities in] northern Samaria, he once left his office and saw me. He suddenly moved aside, with all of his bodyguards around him, and started to explain to me, “Listen, Katzelah. There are constraints and limitations.”

After listening for a long time, I told him, “Arik, we got over Pharaoh and we will get over you.” He looked at me and laughed….

Arik never explained how he could say “The law for Netzarim [a Jewish community he encouraged in Gush Katif] is the same as the law for Tel Aviv” and then do the damage he did.

During the years that we were together a lot, Arik always asked me, “Katzelah, how is it that you love me so much and don’t believe one word of mine?”

Historians will not forget the last chapter of his life, when he committed crimes against the Jewish People, destroyed their homes, demolished their communities and burned their synagogues. Jews have never done anything like that in our history.

Bennett Recalls Sharon’s Sins but Says Remember His Good Deeds

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Naftali Bennett, chairman  of the Jewish Home party, wrote on his Facebook page that former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, barely hanging on to his life, did some awful things and then  turned around and said he should be remembered for his good deed.

“There certainly are many people, including myself, who are very angry at Sharon for the expulsion of more than 8,000 Jews from Gush Katif and over the disastrous aftershocks to Israel, events that should never be allowed to occur again. But at this time, when Arik Sharon is struggling for his life, we must remember his merits.”

Sharon’s condition continues to be critical, and doctors are speaking in terms of “days” before his body is likely to succumb to a collapse of his health.

His sons Gilad and Omri remain at his bedside, and security has been beefed up to prevent unauthorized people from getting near his room in the Tel HaShomer Medical Center in Tel Aviv.

“I am not a prophet, but the doctors and Sharon’s sons feel there has been a change for the worse,” said Prof. Ze’ev Rothstein, director of Tel HaShomer. “We thought it would be advisable to notify the media of the deterioration in his condition the last couple of days, and we regard him as being in critical condition with a decided danger to his life.”

He explained that the former Prime Minister’s weakened condition does not allow doctors to perform the same procedures that previously have been used, and that the medical staff only can support his system and try to treat complications that have set in.

Ariel Sharon near Death, Israeli Media Report

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has only four days to live, Israeli media reported quoted doctors as saying Wednesday night after his condition deteriorated following kidney failure, which can cause his entire system to fail.

The Walla! Hebrew-language news site stated that a doctor at Tel HaShomer Medical Center said, “He can be kept alive much longer, but the decision is in the hands of his family.”

Jewish law forbids disconnecting medical instruments that are keeping him alive, but family members can decide whether or not to allow procedures, such as dialysis, drugs and resuscitation, all of which could lengthen his life.

Sharon, who now is 85, has been comatose for almost exactly eight years following the second of two strokes that resulted in his position as prime minister being taken over by Ehud Olmert.

Sharon’s sons have remained optimistic over the years and have interpreted every little movement in their father’s eyes as a signal of recognition, but doctors have said only a miracle could bring him out of his coma.

Sharon was a war hero and also engineered the expulsion of all Jews and the withdrawal of all soldiers from Gaza in 2005.

Ariel Sharon’s Medical Condition Worsens

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in a coma for eight years, is in a deteriorating medical condition and is suffering from kidney problems, doctors reported Wednesday night.

They did not state the severity of his health. He has been in a coma since a second stroke on January 4, 2006, although  the Tel HaShomer Medical Center in Tel Aviv officially states he is in a “low level of alertness” rather than using the term “coma.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/ariel-sharons-medical-condition-worsens/2014/01/01/

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