Friday, January 06, 2006

General Ariel Sharon, the Epitome of Israel

While it may be disrespectful to write obituaries for a living person, I believe that given the certainty that Ariel Sharon will never return to the Israeli political scene, a look back on his career and his public life might be apposite.

Needless to say, only the greatest writers will do. Let us begin with Michael B. Oren, Author of the definitive account of Israel's Greatest War, distinguished fellow of the Shalem Center, Colonel in the Reserve Forces of the World's Best Army, and regular contributor to the World's Greatest Magazine.

Oren has a beautiful piece in today's Wall Street Journal that will not, I think, leave anybody untouched. The closing sentence is a quote for the ages:

Now, with his withdrawal from the political scene, Israel stands to enter a new phase in its national existence. Less divided, perhaps, and more certain of the borders it wants and the type of society it aspires to create; separated from the Palestinians but open to compromise with them; preserving productive relations with the international community and an unshakeable alliance with the United States. That is the Israel that Ariel Sharon has left us, a formidable legacy for facing the future.

Another very good comment, by the equally excellent Charles Krauthammer puts the scale of Sharon's achievement in perspective:

The success of this fence-plus-unilateral-withdrawal strategy is easily seen in the collapse of the intifada. Palestinian terror attacks are down 90 percent. Israel's economy has revived. In 2005 it grew at the fastest rate in the entire West. Tourists are back and the country has regained its confidence. The Sharon idea of a smaller but secure and demographically Jewish Israel garnered broad public support, marginalized the old parties of the left and right, and was on the verge of electoral success that would establish a new political center to carry on this strategy.

Next up, at the World's most influential Journal of Opinion, ever, Saul Singer writes, on the subject Ehud Olmert - who may still surprise us, but who, at this point in time, looks like Harry Truman on the morning of April 12th, 1945:

Olmert is a talented politician, and may be able to convey the right combination of strength and humility that the situation demands. It is hard to imagine, however, his attaining the gravitas Sharon achieved in his six decades of service, spanning the life of the state, and culminating in decisions that changed history.

As for my comment of yesterday, in which I called Ariel Sharon the world's greatest living general - with all due respect, that subject matter is non-negotiable, and I will not consider any e-mails making the case that Colin Powell, Pervez Musharraf or, G-d forbid, Wesley Clark should be considered.

In any case, the great Nelson Ascher makes a better case than I ever could.

Furthermore, I do not believe that anybody else could claim to be the greatest living Israeli, either. Not even Benyamin Netanyahu. Yet.


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