January 11, 2014
Today, Ariel “Arik” Sharon, 85 passed away. Israel’s 11th Prime Minister of Israel, he served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at the founding of the modern state of Israel. He was a paratrooper and officer who helped wrest the land from the British Army that had a decided anti-Jewish cast. Sharon served in the 1956 Suez War, the Six-Day War of 1967, and the Yom-Kippur War of 1973. As Defense Minister in 1982, he directed the Lebanon war, and was considered the greatest field commander and military strategist in Israel’s history.
Sharon was called “The Lion of God” by the Israel public, despite the 1983 investigation that held him indirectly responsible for the massacre of Palestinian civilians by Lebanese militias in the 1982 war. Although exonerated, he lost his position as Defense Minister. All of this made him something of a target, so when he visited the Temple Mount complex in September of 2000, the so-called Palestinians accused him of inflaming the emotions that led to the confrontation between them and Israeli police, thus beginning the intifada. Only later did the Palestinian communications minister admit that the violence had been planned in July in advance of any plans by Sharon to visit.
Despite the flap over his visit to the Temple Mount, later in 2000 he ran and won the office of Prime Minister. His tenure in that office is best known for the period between August 16 and 30, 2005, when he controversially expelled 9,480 Jewish settlers from 25 locations in Gaza and the northern West Bank who to this day are suffering as a result. Sharon sent Israeli soldiers to bulldoze buildings and to forcibly evict Jews (to the glee of the Palestinians who then proceeded to tear down and destroy successful, viable greenhouses and other buildings).
Sharon resigned from the right wing Likud Party in November 2005, dissolved the Knesset (Congress), and formed Kadima (“Forward” in Hebrew), which he claimed was to be a centralist party. It should be noted that “Forward” is very often used by the far left as a party slogan and is the name of many communist publications. Since Sharon became incapacitated because of a stroke on January 4, 2006, he has lived in a permanent vegetative condition. His successor in Kadima (a very leftist party) was Ehud Olmert, who became Israel’s worst Prime Minister ever. Israeli politics are complex and it is not uncommon for politicians to change parties, but Sharon’s radical change is widely seen as unique and possibly opportunistic.
Why did Sharon ultimately fall? There have been several theories. Those of a strictly secular mind will insist that his age is the issue. They will also say that his fall from grace was due to his leaving Likud (traditional, even right wing) to form Kadima (socialist, very left wing). If they admit that the evictions from Gaza were involved in some way, then the suggestion is that it was done to appease the West and somehow hide the wrongdoings of Sharon and one or both of his sons. Another theory is that the evictions prompted Rabbi Yosef Dayan and a group he leads to place an ancient curse on him known as the Pulsa diNura, calling on the Angel of Death to intervene. But then, being cursed this way is not uncommon for Israeli politicians. Or was his action a curse in and of itself?
The Pulsa diNura curse? Ignoring the advice of the holy man, Rabbi Schneerson? Or was it just his time and physical causes. I honestly don’t know, but we live in interesting times, and I cannot forget that God spoke to Abraham in the Bible, “I will bless those that bless you, and curse those who curse you.” Throughout history, from the Babylonians to the British, this has been true. Sadly, for all the great things he did for his own country, Ariel Sharon seems not to have understood this message.
 Rumor has it that the late Chabad rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, whom many Jews went to for advice, told Sharon never to go into politics. Could this have been his downfall?