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Sharon: A fighter to the very end

Former Israeli PM Ariel Sharon has died at 85. Born in Israel, he fought in every war – and lived eight years after a devastating stroke that doctors expected to kill him in weeks or months. He'll get a State funeral according to latest Israeli media reports. The general-turned-politician who inspired both love and hate as one of Israel's most controversial leaders, passed peacefully says his son.
by ANT KATZ | Jan 11, 2014

With CTV, NPR, The Associated Press, Wikipedia,

Ariel Sharon, the general-turned-politician who inspired both love and hate as one of Israel's most controversial leaders, is reported dead at the age of 85, after eight years in a coma. Israeli media first reported Sharon's death Saturday afternoon, but there has been no official state announcement yet.

Love him or hate him, every Jew held him in respect. A Sabra who had fought his countries enemies in every war and forged a career to the top culminating in his appointment as Defence Minister and Prime Minister.

Known by the nickname: The "bulldozer" - for his bold tactics, Sharon became incapacitated after a devastating stroke at the peak of his political power.

In early January, 2014, doctors said Sharon's family was by his bedside at a hospital near Tel Aviv as his condition deteriorated.

Sharon had a first, milder stroke in December, 2005. He was put on blood thinners before suffering a severe brain haemorrhage on 4 January 2006.

His incapacitation came as a shock to many Israelis, who had expected Sharon to lead his new Kadima party to victory in pending elections. Sharon had left the Likud party just weeks earlier to form the new movement.

Acting prime minister Ehud Olmert became his successor, and went on to win the March 2006 elections, but by a smaller margin than was expected with Sharon at the helm.

A turbulent life

Sharon's death brings a quiet end to a turbulent life. Many Israelis consider him a war hero who defended the country through some of its greatest struggles. However, he is widely hated by many in the Arab world for the bloody military campaigns he led against Palestinian guerrillas in Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere.

Sharon was born the son of Shmuel and Dvora Scheinermann, Russian immigrants in the agricultural village of Kfar Malal in British-mandate Palestine on February 27, 1928.

He was widowed twice, and had two sons.

A born soldier, Sharon joined the Hagana, an underground military organisation that provided security to Jewish towns and settlements, at the age of 14.

 Sharon - Ariel at 19
PICTURED RIGHT: Sharon as
a 19-year-old Haganah fighter
in February 1948, armed
with Mk 2 hand grenades

 

In the early 1950s, he led an attack in Jordan that became known as the Massacre of Kibya. Sixty-nine civilians were killed, most of them women and children.

During the Six-Day War of June 1967, he commanded a division that led to the capture of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Sharon also masterminded the counterattack across the Suez Canal that effectively ended the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

By the 1970s, Sharon was fully engaged in politics as well. He was first elected to Israel's parliament, or the Knesset, in 1973, but resigned one year later. He was re-elected in 1977.

He led the first invasion of Lebanon in 1982 to uproot a small group of Palestinians who aimed to carry out raids on Israel. He managed to root out the PLO, but not without scores of casualties that would later cause him to be expelled from the Knesset.

In 1983, a year after he led the invasion of southern Lebanon, an inquiry found him responsible for the slaughter of more than 800 Arab refugees, and he was forced to resign as defence minister under Menachem Begin.

Sharon gave up his post but remained in the Knesset. By 1996, he returned to cabinet. In 1998, Benjamin Netanyahu named Sharon foreign affairs minister in a Likud government.

When Netanyahu lost to Labour's Ehud Barak in the 1999 election, Sharon became leader of the party he'd helped found.

In 2000, Sharon was blamed for triggering the second Palestinian Intifada (uprising) with his visit to the al-Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem, a site also holy to Jews. However, on 6 February 2001, Sharon defeated Barak by a huge margin, taking 62.5 per cent of the vote.

He called upon his Palestinian neighbours to cast off the "path of violence" and resolve the conflicts by peaceful means. Instead, Palestinian suicide bombers continued to target Israelis, prompting Israeli helicopter gunships to retaliate in an unending cycle of violence.

Championed security barrier

Though he refused to back down from Israel's policy of "targeted killings," Sharon took steps towards peace. On 25 May 2003 his cabinet reluctantly accepted the US-backed 'road map to peace' by a vote of 12-7.

Sharon - Time coverHe promised to dismantle "unauthorized outposts" in the West Bank, but also committed to the building of a "security barrier" around the West Bank, which some Palestinians denounced as a land grab.

In the summer of 2005, Sharon began to carry out his plans to withdraw Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank, a shocking reversal for a man who had been a leading player in constructing Jewish settlements in captured territories. This led to significant tensions within Likud, and Benjamin Netanyahu led an unsuccessful effort to overthrow Sharon.

In response, Sharon again shocked his nation by announcing that he would be quitting Likud and forming a new centrist party. Old political foes like Labour's Shimon Peres announced he would join with Sharon.

But Sharon would never recover from his first stroke. After spending months at the Jerusalem hospital where he was first treated, Sharon was transferred to a long-term care facility at Tel Hashomer hospital. Though he was taken home for a brief period, he was taken back to the hospital where he spent his final days. 

Historically speaking…

 Sharon was born on 26 February 1928 in Kfar Malal, an agricultural moshav, then in the British Mandate of Palestine, to a family of Belarusian Jews—Shmuel Scheinerman (1896–1956) of Brest-Litovsk and Dvora Scheinerman (1900–1988) of Mogilev.

His parents met at the Tbilisi State University, Georgia, where Sharon's father was studying agronomy and his mother had just started her fourth year of medical studies. As Bolshevik forces advanced towards independent Georgia, his parents emigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine, fleeing the pogroms associated with the Russian Civil War.

The family arrived in the Third Aliyah and settled in a Kfar Malal, a socialist, secular community where, despite being Mapai supporters, they were known to be contrarians against the prevailing community consensus:

The Scheinermans' eventual ostracism ... followed the 1933 Arlozorov murder when Dvora and Shmuel refused to endorse the Labour movement's anti-Revisionist calumny and participate in Bolshevic-style public revilement rallies, then the order of the day. Retribution was quick to come. They were expelled from the local health-fund clinic and village synagogue. The cooperative's truck wouldn't make deliveries to their farm nor collect produce.

The Sheinermans’ children

Four years after their arrival at Kfar Malal, the Sheinermans had a daughter, Yehudit (Dita), and Ariel was born two years later. At age 10, Sharon entered the Zionist youth movement Hassadeh.

As a young teenager, he first began to take part in the armed night-patrols of his moshav. In 1942 at the age of 14, Sharon joined the Gadna, a paramilitary youth battalion, and later the Haganah, the underground paramilitary force and the Jewish military precursor to the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

7 Comments

  1. 7 Gary Selikow 11 Jan
    I have just finshed reading for the third term Arik Sharon's autobiography. This great soldier/leader outlines his fascinating life and his struggle for all that is good He starts with his childhood on a pioneer Moshav farm and explains how when ever he got tired his father would remind him 'Look how far we've come'and that would encourage him to go on This wisdom has guided him through his life and ensured that he has always triumphed over those mean spirits that have and (continue) to malign him.

    In this volume , he deals with his early life and his role in the War of Independence.
    He reveals the true context of affairs behind incidents ,which Israel's many enemy propagandists,have used to malign him and Israel.
    For example, Israel-hating ideologues like to refer to raid against Arab terrorists in the Arab border village of Kibbiya in 1953.They like to point to unintentional casualties of Arab civillians, as proof of 'Zionist atrocities' but the truth is that raid followed years of bloody attacks into Israel by Palestinian terrorists, a reign of terror against Israel's civillian population, living in border areas. In 1951 , 137 Israelis were murdered by terrorists, almost all civillians, many of them women and children.In 1952, the number rose to 162.1953 was especially terrible. In that year over 3000 incidents took place, almost ten a day. Again there were over 160 deaths. Israel took it's case to the UN, but it was ignored. Eventually it underook action aimed at terror bases. The raid on Kibbiya was mounted in response to a particulalrly horrendous incident in the town of Yehud, in which terrorists, murdered a young mother and her two infants, one and two years old while they were asleep. Police investigations revealed that the raid had been mounted from the Arab border village of Kibbiya, into an area that had been subject to terror attacks almost every day. It Kibbiya, Israeli forces fought a battle against Palestinian terrorists, backed by Jordanian army units. Several Arab civillians died when buildings in the village were destoyed as always happens in war. Israeli forces had actually taken Arab children to safety, but this too has been ignored in leftist and Moslem propaganda accounts.
    All Israeli actions have always been in retaliation to Arab terror against Israel's people. Israel has never acted, except in reaction to attacks and ugly threats against her people, a fact anti-Israel hate-mongers have always hidden.
    Another incident in which propagandists have played up to demonize Israel through the years has been Sabra and Shatilla. For years PLO terrorists, had inflicted a reign of terror against Lebanon's Christian population, murdering tens of thousands of Christian men, women and children. At Damour in 1976, the Christian village was destoyed on Arafat's orders, and hundreds of Lebanese civillians, mainly women and children were butchered. After the assasination of Christian President Bashir Gemayel, the IDF had allowed Christian Phalangist fighters into the Sabra and Shatilla areas of Beirut, to flush out PLO units controlling the area.Palestinian civillians had died in the fighting, though this was far less than that inflicted in many massacres by the PLO and Syrians of Christian Lebanese dowen the years. For this their were massive protests in Israel, and a massive international media offensive against Israel.
    The book also describes the terror by PLO thugs against the Arab civillian population in the disputed territories. One example reffered to is the sickening and systematic campaign of brutal murders, by PLO terrorists, of defenceless Arab prostitutes in Gaza after rumours that several prostitutes had passed information onto the Israeli Defence Forces.

    Apart from clarifying various propaganda myths, Sharon talks about his own life, it's trials,tribulations and tragedies, as well as his vision for Israel as a Jewish State, the project of Jews all over the world. Of Israeli identity being at one with Jewish identity, and of the Jews unbroken presence in the Land of Israel, for over three thousand years.
    As regards those on the right who will remember him only for the evacauation of Gush Katif , the words of Mark Anthony in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar come to mind 'The good that men do is of interred in their bones. The evil lives after them'
    ZY'L Arik Sharon Lion of Israel 
  2. 6 anon 12 Jan

    I wonder if anyone of note in the S.African government will attend Mr. Sharon's funeral.

    After all there were so many complaints that no notable from Israel attented Mr. Mandela's funeral.

    Double standards?

  3. 5 Israeli 12 Jan

    Does not Ariel Sharon deserve official condolences from the S.African Jewish community?

    I would hope that the chief Rabbinate of S.Africa is represented at his funeral tomorrow.

    Does he not deserve the same praise as Mr. Mandela from the 'fervently Zionist' Jewish community? 

  4. 4 David Abel 12 Jan
    Farewell - Rest in Peace - Sharon, a national hero, one of Israel's great warrior/politicians: Menachem Begin, Moshe Dayan, Ezer Weizman, Yitzchak Rabin & Ariel Sharon. 
  5. 3 adam levy 16 Jan
    he was a [Deleted - sorry "Adam" but youknow the rules. Unless we know your true identity, we cannot allow you make personal attacks. You would be welcome to make this statement]. why would anyone want to mourn his death.

    Feel free to check our rules on named and anonymous user-posts: COMMENT GUIDELINES
  6. 2 Israeli 16 Jan

    David Abel, In your tribute to Ariel Sharon you omitted his most despicable act against his own people.

    I refer to the forced expulsion of nearly 10000 Israelis from their homes in Gush Katif.

    The images of this expulsion will forever be an irremovable stain from this leader of Israel.

  7. 1 Gary Selikow 18 Jun
    Adam Levy you are an evil sewer rat no decent person will mourn YOUR death

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