Jewish Journal

In limbo with Ariel Sharon

by Brad A. Greenberg

November 2, 2009 | 7:29 pm

It’s easy to forget, but Ariel Sharon, Israel’s legendary military leader and former prime minister, is still alive, trapped within his comatose self. Writing for the Daily Beast, Lynn Sherr compares Sharon’s status in limbo to that of the Mideast peace process—too healthy too die and too injured to work:

The irony is unavoidable. Ariel Sharon, who spent his early life expanding the territory of his native land, then abandoned his dream and evicted settlers from Gaza to shrink Israel’s borders in the quest for peace, remains locked inside the barest human boundaries, imprisoned in his own body. He was once so uncompromising—self-confident, supporters said—they called him The Bulldozer. Other names, too. “Arik, King of the Jews,” after his conquest of the Sinai during the Yom Kippur War. “Murderer,” after failing to prevent the massacres of Lebanese civilians at the Sabra and Shatila camps in 1982. Sensitive and cultured. Stubborn and cruel. No one was ever neutral about Arik Sharon. Still true.

To many, including members of the left wing who embraced Sharon when he pulled out of Gaza, he was the modern father of the nation, ultimately creating his own Nixon-in-China moment as the first to accept a two-state solution.

“I don’t want to compare him to anybody else,” says Israeli President Shimon Peres, “but there was nobody as good as he was.” Peres, 85, who joined the centrist party Sharon founded, Kadima, after decades of fighting Sharon from Labor, adds, with amusement, “You could always expect from him the unexpected. [Moshe] Dayan said about him, ‘I prefer a galloping horse which is difficult to stop than a lazy mule that doesn’t know how to start moving.’”

Dov Weissglas, a savvy Tel Aviv attorney who became Sharon’s trusted chief of staff, recalls the days when Israel was “a teeny, tiny country, a weird strip on the map, with about a million miserable refugees from all over the world.” Because of Sharon, he says, “the whole nation regained its confidence, to successfully survive in this goddamn place in the world. He and his generation became a sort of manifestation that yes, we can live here, we can do it: We can overcome, we can retaliate. He became a myth.”

Or, an anathema.

Sherr goes on in this really well-done essay. You can read the rest here.

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