Israel’s Ariel Sharon had a complex legacy

January 17, 2014 

The following editorial appeared in the Seattle Times on Tuesday:

At Israel’s state memorial service Monday for Ariel Sharon, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden described the larger-than-life military and political leader as a complex man.

Complex is a diplomatic choice of words – not unlike describing your aunt’s Thanksgiving gravy as interesting. Sharon, 85, stirred powerful feelings throughout the Middle East, even after eight years in a coma following a stroke.

Sharon’s physical courage and political brashness too often appeared to operate without any boundaries or context.

His military leadership helped secure Israel’s future. Just as quickly he could be pulled aside for decisions and actions that were over-the-top even in that harsh region.

Sharon’s tenacity was boundless. The slaughter of hundreds of Palestinian refugees in two camps during the 1982 war with Lebanon cost him his job as defense minister. An Israeli inquiry said he had failed to act to prevent the massacres by Lebanese militias.

He would return to public life as prime minister, and create a new party in the process. The mighty warrior and promoter of Israeli settlements stunned everyone when he led the effort to turn over the West Bank and Gaza to Palestinian rule.

Sharon’s recognition of that path toward peace has not been sustained by those who followed him in Israeli politics. Yet Sharon’s decisive role in returning the Gaza Strip to Palestinians will trump Sabra and Shatila in history, and define his legacy.

The Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service