Sharon, Israel and Jewish Wry

By Suzanne Fields When Ariel Sharon died on Saturday, the obituaries emphasized his strength as a military commander and political leader, recalling his brilliant counterattack across Suez to surround the Egyptian armies when Israel’s very existence hung in the balance in the Yom Kippur War the Arabs almost won.

He was the “new Jew” after the Holocaust, a strong man who stood up to those who wanted to destroy the likes of him and his country. He knew the first war the Israelis lost would be Israel’s last. He had his faults, but weakness wasn’t one of them

His story was that of his country, of perseverance and intrepidity in the face of his enemy. When he surprised the world in 2005 by withdrawing settlers and troops in Gaza, he was compared to Nixon going to China. He had a plan to create a strong state that would survive by compromising with Israel’s enemy, removing settlers who had been his most loyal followers. He completed a long and crucial part of the 450-mile barrier that ran along and through the West Bank, dramatically reducing terrorist crossings. The wall also suggested a border for a Palestinian state.

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