23 thoughts on “Ariel Sharon: War Criminal or Savior of the Nation? – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Why does he have to be either or?

    He may have committed war crimes in his past but also was a savior especially in the Yom Kippur war when he was the only commander in the south that didn’t lose his head and saved Israel from a possible massive defeat.

    His withdrawal from Gaza was brilliant diplomacy which may have led to better things had the stroke not brought his leadership to an abrupt end.

    He may favorably be compared to yassir Arafat who was also a war criminal but in later age realized that compromise is necessary and went for it.

    Ironically they could not abide each other

    1. Sharon evacuated Gaza with no thought of returning.
      Arafat signed onto Oslo but never gave up on a his dream of Palestine ‘from river to sea’.

      A significant difference, IMHO.

      1. Shohana: Palestine was rightfully a lot more important to Arafat than Gaza was to Sharon (again, rightfully in his case). Not to mention that Sharon’s Gaza withdrawal was disastrous because it was unilateral. It was an absolutely stupid decision that backfired naturally.

        1. I don’t get it. You’re against the occupation, and when the occupation of Gaza ends, you criticize it because it was unilateral.

          So if Israel tomorrow decided to disengage from the West Bank, would you slam that as unilateral?

      1. “Not so ironically, Sharon may’ve ordered Arafat poisoned.”

        I’m no so sure of that. The suggestion that Bush and Sharon toyed with the idea of assassinating Arafat was in the midst of the second intifada. There were no open hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians when Arafat died.

      2. Your comment seems incorrect. According to a Wikipedia report just the opposite occurred.


        “…the IDF had wanted to take harsh action against Arafat, ranging from killing him to expelling him, but Prime Minister Sharon rejected these ideas, stating that the advantages wouldn’t outweigh being accused of killing Arafat…”

        Please back up your speculation on this with a source.

        1. @ DavidL: And Wikipedia is an authority on this subject because…?? This article’s characterization of the situation is simply false. In fact, Sharon is known to have told numerous individuals that he wanted to kill Arafat. They in turn spoke publicly about these conversations and even expressed a belief that he did. The only question is whether he actually did it or not and how to prove it. I’ve written about this very subject here in the blog a number of times. Do a Google search on “Uri Dan” (if memory serves), among other search terms.

          1. Thanks for the search to Uri Dan.

            From what I saw it is still all speculation and nothing conclusive. What IS conclusive is that Sharon, z’l DID say it was not in the best interest of Israel (PR reasons) NOT to kill him. No doubt in my mind that Sharon DID want Arafat dead, but other interests kept him from carrying out his desire.

            So the “may” in your statement above is a big one. There is no “smoking gun” so- as of now, there is no proof.

            And based on this same type of conjecture I can also use the “may” word in describing a part of Arafat’s life…. but I won’t, simply because it is not provable and I don’t like the idea of making disparaging conjectures on people’s lives, especially once they are gone. המבין יבין

          2. @DavidL: Do you want Arafat’s death sentence in handwriting? Sharon’s support for the US invasion got in the way and postponed Arafat’s execution.

            PM Arik Sharon wanted to bury PLO leader Yasser Arafat in the rubble of his Muqata HQ in Ramallah. President Bush pleaded with the “Bulldozer” not now, as the US needed support of Arab states for his invasion of Iraq – October 2002.

            “After the recent strikes that killed the Hamas leaders Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi, Israel has widened the net and indicated that it will go after Hamas leaders abroad. Its targeted killings have already included members of Mr Arafat’s organisation Fatah and its affiliate the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which has been responsible for many of the suicide bombings against Israel.

            Ariel Sharon issued an ominous warning last night that Yasser Arafat could be the next Palestinian leader to be in Israel’s line of fire, when he reneged on a promise not to harm his old adversary. In dramatic remarks certain to aggravate regional hysteria over Israel’s targeted killings of Palestinian militant leaders, the Israeli prime minister said he had told President George Bush that he was no longer prepared to exempt Mr Arafat from physical harm.

            Mr Sharon had hinted at his change of policy in interviews earlier this month in which he warned that he might take unspecified action against Mr Arafat. … [these] remarks were the strongest signal yet that Israel may follow up its recent assassinations in Gaza with the decapitation of the Palestinian leadership.”

            [Source The Guardian – Sharon: ‘We may kill Arafat’ on April 24, 2004]

  2. Thanks for this article. You express exactly my feelings towards “bulldozer” Ariel Sharon. Due to my age, I don’t need to watch the news, read obituaries and especially watch historic films of Sharon’s command in war and atrocities. I lived through this period and still have the images stored in memory, too many to mention. Today I was taken aback when I researched his command of “Unit 101” during a short period of its existence. From a link to Jewish Virtual Library I came across German “Battalion 101” in Poland during the war. It took my breath away.

  3. Of all the obituary headlines that came my way during this mass murderer’s 15-minutes of fame, the one that most made sense is the one titled “Ariel Sharon’s story was that of his country’s”. His objective and methods of execution that of Israel’s since it was planted in the heart of historic Palestine against the will of the indigenous population: Ensuring a viable and strong state for the Jewish people in their “historic homeland”.

    That statement is the root cause of the conflict, because it obliterates the existence of the indigenous Palestinians in historic Palestine in order to avoid even a mention of their inalienable rights in their homeland.

    Richard, you conclude your article with these words: “Those of us who have always had and continue to have hope for Israel would like to think so. But the evidence since his coma in 2006 points away from this. Instead, it points to an Israel hell-bent for disaster, if not self-destruction. Therefore, pondering the “what-ifs” around Sharon’s life and death is a luxury almost too painful to contemplate.”

    May I ask what you mean when you use the words “disaster” and “self-destruction”?

    [Note: Apparently, Israel’s lunatic fringe reads your blog and have mis-attributed something I posted here to my niece, Rima Najjar Kapitan, whose BDS video talk at NYU they were busy vilifying.]

    1. @ Rima Najjar: Ah yes, you’ll find that I’m the bete noire of the lunatic fringe. They range from JDL to settlers to Orthodox Jews (not all, of course). Some of them hang on my every word hoping to pounce on errors, etc. I’m sorry for that if it affected your cousin. They’re also not a terribly precise bunch & quick to leap before they look as you’ve discovered.

  4. His decision to withdraw from Gaza was not “brilliant diplomacy” at all. It was a calculated decision, to be able to transfer military resources to the Zionist project that really mattered to him, Jewish settlement in Judea and Shomron, while of course – for propaganda reasons – stressing to the world the “withdrawal” from Gaza. Disastrous in this way that he did not foresee the consequences, the thousands of Qassams fired from Gaza into Israel.

  5. Everyone foresaw the missiles from Gaza, but most assumed they would be controllable as they are today after military action.
    The result is that there are hardly any Israeli deaths as opposed to the 2 or 3 a month when idf and settlements were still there.
    It was a great decision!

  6. Sharon was ‘shocked’ the MoU letter from the White House had no judicial standing, not worth the paper it was written on. PM Netanyahu sticks to the letter of promises from Bush offered in Sharon’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza. The road map was written for Sharon, not for the Palestinian people. Israel’s escape clause: “We have no parther for peace.”

    “… we are immediately going to return to the construction formula that was agreed between Bush and Sharon, on the basis of which Sharon accepted the road map. And Jerusalem is outside the discussion.”
    [Source: ‘Independence War hasn’t ended’]

  7. “Ariel Sharon: War Criminal or Savior of the Nation?”

    Of course, he could be both, because he could be (as I think he was) a “war criminal”, a legal notion, though not convicted by any court; and Israel can regard anyone it likes as a hero or savior.

    When we consider that Israel elected the terrorists Shamir and Begin as PMs, despite denouncing “terrorists” from the roof-tops, we can easily see that Israeli categories are conditional, and “terrorist can be laudatory if the terrorist is Israeli (or Jewish) but condemnatory if the terrorist is anyone else (especially Palestinian or Arab).

    I don’t know if Israel spends much “ink” on the concept of “war-criminal” Its wide-spread flouting of international law makes me believe that it does not do so.

  8. “You think Sharon’s fat?” went the early ’80s joke “It’s no fat. It’s all skin.”
    Throughout his bloody career (and family life shenanigans, same adjective applies), Sharon’s abundant (justifiable) self confidence and notoriety of total disregard to (just as justifiable) criticisms were his persistent trump cards.

    Sharon was certainly the last major Israeli leader who had the nerve and (obvious) guts to tackle the feared settlers head-on. He had his unique (proven) ability to muster not only popular support and political numbers but the military subordination necessary to remove Jewish settlements at will.

    His Gaza “disengagement” had little to do with peace seeking. From his point of view, the withdrawal’s immediate advantage was creating the misleading percept of an “independent” Gaza entity, thus making disproportionally murderous collective-retaliation — his old time speciality — more internationally acceptable. As Shmuel mentioned above, it worked and still does. In the longer run, establishing the Gaza-bantustan would alleviated the demographic urgency to preserve the appearance of “Israeli democracy”.

  9. You are not worthy to have shined his shoes. Yes, Israel needed Ghetto Jews like you and Marc Ellis and Phil Weiss to defend us. כל הכבוד לאריק וצה׳ל

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