Sharon, the indispensable Zionist, dead at 85

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arielThere would likely be no Israel today were it not for the military and political achievements of Ariel Sharon who died today, eight years after suffering a debilitating stroke that left him in a coma.

The United States has no better friend and no nation on Earth deserves our support any more than the state of Israel, that President Harry Truman was the first head of state to recognize after its founding in 1948. The Jewish homeland and refuge after Hitler’s Holocaust in Europe has been a paragon of liberal democratic virtue since then despite having to defend itself from extinction against radical Islamists nearly every day of its existence.

It would not have survived many times over but for the leadership and exploits of Ariel Sharon:

Sharon was one of Israel’s legendary politicians and military leaders. He played an instrumental role in IDF victories in the Sinai desert in both the 1967 Six Day War and in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. His victories on the battlefield, immortalized by the image of him in an IDF uniform with a white bandage wrapped around his wounded forehead, earned him the title, “Arik, King of Israel.”

He was equally fearless in the political arena, where he was the father of two parties, Likud and Kadima. As defense minister in 1982, he oversaw the Lebanon War before he was ousted from office in 1983 as a result of the Sabra and Shatilla massacre for which the Kahn Commission of Inquiry found him indirectly responsible.

But he returned to politics. As construction and housing minister from 1990 to 1992, he was responsible for a massive building effort of 144,000 apartments to house the flood of Russian-speaking immigrants from the former Soviet Union bloc. As the father of the settlement movement, he was also instrumental in building thousands of homes in Judea and Samaria and is famous for urging right-wing activists “to run for the hilltops.”

He rose to the post of foreign minister in 1998. In September 2000, as the head of the Likud party, his walk on the Temple Mount was cited by Palestinians as the trigger for the second intifada. He was elected prime minister in 2001 and under his leadership Israel began to build its security barrier in the West Bank.

He was famous for the slogan “The fate of Netzarim [a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip]is the fate of Tel Aviv.” But as prime minister, he formulated and executed the disengagement, in which Israel evacuated 21 Gaza settlements along with another four in northern Samaria. In 2005, he left the Likud in anger, choosing to create Kadima with Shimon Peres, Ehud Olmert and Livni.

Dovish opponents have often demonized Sharon as a militant, but given the brutal and inhumane terrorism of Palestinians, Arabs, Iran and other Muslims intent upon pushing Israel into the sea, we think he showed super-human restraint. We have missed his strong voice for eight years, honor him now upon his death, and pray that the nation survives President Barack Obama’s appeasement of Iran.

“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson

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