Recently published biographies of former Israel Prime Minister Ariel (Arik) Sharon, including a very intimate one by journalist and personal friend, Uri Dan, may help many to better understand the complexities and human qualities of the man who may one day go down in history as one of Israel’s greatest military leaders and statesmen. Dan maintained a close relationship with Sharon for more than 50 years; which only ended with the Prime Minister’s massive stroke in January, 2006.
Few politicians on the Israeli political scene have made their mark in a manner like the man who not only helped save his country in time of war, but who also has made monumental decisions concerning his country’s future direction in regards to peace. While this ‘new direction has not been accepted by many, including many of his former Likud Party political colleagues; Sharon finally came to the conclusion that the only way to reach a lasting peace agreement with Israel’s Palestinian neighbors was to agree to let them have their own national identity â€“ i.e. statehood.
The human side of Ariel Sharon, including the shattering loss of his first born son, Gur, in an accident at age 11; and the death of his second wife, Lilly, to cancer in 2000, has also influenced him, especially in later life. Many people, myself included, have not fully understood this man who has loved his country and its people more than anyone ever could imagine; and who was prepared to make great sacrifices for its sake. Sharon’s love of the Land of Israel made some of his more recent governmental decisions, especially the disengagement from Gaza, even more painful to him. Many people close to him, including Uri Dan, feel that Sharon’s decision to give up the Gaza settlements, and the adverse reaction from so many Israelis, was what brought on the two strokes that finished him in the end.
Other biographies, Ariel Sharon: A Life, by Nir Hefez and Gadi Bloom (the English translation of the Hebrew version: The Shepherd), and Sharon: A life in Times of Turmoil, by Freddy Eytan, also detail the colorful and controversial life of this often misunderstood individual. But in the end, it is Gur’s long relationship with ‘Arik’ that is the most intimate, as this version goes deep into the heart and soul of the man who’s sudden departure from the political scene “has left people with a feeling of incompletion” not unlike the November 2005 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was also criticized, and even castigated by many, for his agreement to peace with the Palestinians via the Oslo Accords. Sharon’s own life was also threatened by extremist elements, and this resulted in his having a minimum of six bodyguards constantly encircling him wherever he went.
Sharon’s legacy has yet to finalized, as he is still fighting for his life in a deep coma from which he is not expected to recover. But the idealism and love for his country will make its mark on Israel’s history, and for this soldier, farmer, and statesman who often stopped government cabinet sessions to rush to his farm upon learning of the birth of new members of his livestock. A ‘good shepherd’, he certainly has been.
November 1, 2006 at 2:38 pm
A well written blog, Ariel Sharon realy deserved a better ending,
especially after a lifetime of sacrifise and sometime controversial
work for his country.
As we realise today, there isn’t even one leader and statesman
that can replace him,definitly none of the present “leaders”
and thats a shame!
November 1, 2006 at 8:54 pm
I agree with David,
Sharon will definitely be remembered as a great man.
Those “other guys” will be ‘remembered’ for something
November 3, 2006 at 11:42 am
He is a special one for sure, still in my prayers. Wonder if Uri Dan’s book has been translated to english yet?
November 4, 2006 at 8:21 pm
Yes it has. In fact it’s just coming out now!
Publisher is Palgrave Macmilian, in (I believe) the U.K.
November 5, 2006 at 10:08 pm
Thanks Ed, I’ll be on the look out for it.