“The Post-Sharon era began abruptly on January 5,” Peter Berkowitz wrote in a perceptive and far-seeing 2006 article for the Weekly Standard, describing how Sharon’s massive stroke affected the Israeli political spectrum and Israel’s standing in the region. Moreover, Sharon, wrote Berkowitz, “made his most enduring mark on Israeli politics by presiding over the formation of a powerful new consensus on national security.” Now more than eight years after the massive stroke that left the nearly legendary soldier and statesman in a coma, the tributes and reminiscences continue to roll in days after he finally succumbed Saturday.
Yesterday, Henry Kissinger wrote of Sharon’s journey from soldier to statesman. Sharon deplored America’s decision “to bring about a negotiated end of the [1973 Arab-Israeli] war. I was secretary of state at the time, and he missed few opportunities to chide me. The United States acted as it did then because we were convinced that, however vast the margin of victory, it would leave Israel with its historic challenge: how to translate victories over threats to its security into political coexistence with the societies it lived among. The Egyptian leader, Anwar Sadat, seemed to offer such a prospect.”
Benjamin Weinthal writes in the National Review of a meeting between Sharon and Sadat during the Egyptian president’s famous 1977 trip to Jerusalem. “I tried to catch you when you were on the side of the canal,” said Sadat, referring to Sharon’s gambit in the 1973 war. Mr. President, said Sharon, “now you have a chance to catch me as a friend.”
In an important article for the Forward, David Hazony explains how some of Sharon’s policies “triggered a long-term rift” between Israelis and “Diaspora Jewry, especially in the United States, where the cause of peace had become the core not only of Jewish Zionism, but even of Judaism itself.”
The Times of Israel’s Mitch Ginsburg has published two excellent articles on lesser-known episodes from Sharon’s life, like the 1948 Battle of Latrun in which the 20-year-old Sharon was critically wounded and saved by a 16-year-old boy under his command. Ginsburg, who translated the 2006 biography Ariel Sharon: A Life, has another article about Sharon’s 1964 trip to East Africa and his near encounter with the “testicle-severing Danakil nomads.”
Even Israelis critical of many of Sharon’s policies emphasize the man’s larger than life character. “Sharon was one of the warmest, most engaging political leaders Israel has ever seen,” writes Caroline Glick, who wrote against the disengagement from Gaza. “He had an infectious sense of humor, a true love of life, of Israel, and of Israelis that made even his greatest Israeli critics like him.”