Friday, March 7, 2014
The Misunderstood Menachem Begin
In 1977, Time magazine dismissed newly elected Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin with this snide explanation of how to pronounce his name: "Begin, rhymes with Fagin." That one liner drips with contempt, if not outright antisemitism, but it is sadly typical of how the media treats Begin--and that is a shame, because Begin is the greatest Prime Minister in Israeli history, a Holocaust survivor, a freedom fighter and a peace-loving statesman who understood that peace-seeking democracies must be ever vigilant and ever strong when confronting tyrannical and despotic regimes.
In "Menachem Begin: His legacy a century after his birth," Daniel Gordis describes the gap between perception and reality regarding Begin:
...Begin is still disparaged by many of the very same Jews who see in the American revolution a cause for genuine pride.
Begin himself seemed to sense the irony, so he spoke time and again about the American revolution. In an article commemorating the 35th anniversary of Ze'ev Jabotinsky's death, he combined two passages from Thomas Jefferson's letters to fellow statesmen--one to James Madison and another to William Stephens Smith. "I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical," Begin quoted Jefferson, adding the American revolutionary's sobering observation that "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
Gordis, whose book Menachem Begin: The Battle for Israel's Soul will be published this month, explains the prominent role that David Ben-Gurion--Israel's first Prime Minister--had in smearing Begin's good name:
...Begin's reputation was also scarred by David Ben-Gurion's refusal to acknowledge his own participation in some of the events for which Begin is vilified. Ben-Gurion consistently denied having had anything to do with operations that did not go as planned, while Begin stood ready to take responsibility. The Hagana's David Shaltiel had approved the now infamous Deir Yassin operation, but when it went tragically and horribly awry and many innocent people died, Ben-Gurion painted Begin as a violent thug, pretending that his organization had had nothing to do with it. The Hagana was also intimately involved in the approval and planning of the King David bombing (for Ben-Gurion had come to see that Begin was right, that the British needed to be dislodged), but when civilians were killed because the British refused to heed the Irgun's warnings to leave the building, Ben-Gurion assailed Begin, pretending that he and his men had known nothing of the plan.
Ben-Gurion was one of the greatest Jewish leaders ever to have lived, and the Jewish state might well not have come to be were it not for him. But his greatness notwithstanding, he was unfair to Begin-- consistently and mercilessly.
Gordis is correct that Ben-Gurion played a pivotal role in Israel's creation but an honest reading of the historical record shows that it was more important to Ben-Gurion to win his political/ideological struggle with Begin than it was to save Jewish lives and create a Jewish State. The deplorable Altalena Affair, during which Ben-Gurion's forces opened fire on Begin's forces (including Begin himself) on the Altalena ship in the middle of Israel's War of Independence, illustrates the vast difference in character between Begin and Ben-Gurion; Ben-Gurion declared, "Blessed be the cannon that bombed that ship"--a cannon fired at Ben-Gurion's orders and that killed his fellow Jewish freedom fighters, albeit freedom fighters who had different political views than his--but Begin would not permit his forces to fight against fellow Jews. Begin prevented the outbreak of a civil war that could have destroyed the young Jewish State. Shmuel Katz later wrote that Ben-Gurion ordered the attack knowing full well that Begin was aboard the ship because Ben-Gurion wanted to kill Begin, who was a potential rival for leadership of the young state. Remarkably, the two men formed a rapprochement near the end of Ben-Gurion's life. One can question Begin's policies but one can never question that his motives were always pure and that his foremost concern was the safety and well being of the Jewish people--if only the same could be truthfully said of most of the other Israeli Prime Ministers!
In an article titled "Menachem Begin Will Live Again," Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveitchik described the "familial loyalty to the people of Israel" that Begin consistently displayed:
He was the first prime minister to truly bridge the social gap between Sephardim and Ashkenazim in the Jewish state, famously declaring yehudim anachnu, we are all Jews. It was he who first set in motion the return of the Ethiopian Jews to the land for which they had longed. It was he who left as his last will and testament that he be buried not on Mount Herzl, in the manner of some of his predecessors, but rather on the Mount of Olives, near the graves of Meir Feinstein and Moshe Barazani, one Ashkenazi and the other Sephardi, who had died in a British prison in each other's arms, and who together embodied for Begin the bond between all Jews that made the State of Israel possible after two thousand years of Exile. It was he who, unlike any other Israeli leader before him, made the case for the public Jewish character of Israel, drawing not on Jewish law, but on familial love. Honoring the values of Jewish generations past, he told the Knesset, was incumbent on all Israelis who believed in the ethical obligation declared at Sinai: "honor your father and mother." This commandment, he further suggested, was all the more potent when those parents were no longer among the living. Heim einam od, he said, our parents are here no longer. It is we, their children, who must honor the beliefs for which they bled and perished.
Jewish sovereignty did not happen by chance, nor simply through negotiation. It came about through determination, grit, courage and blood. It was wrought not only by Ben-Gurion and those he invited to that memorable afternoon in Tel Aviv when he declared independence, but also, to paraphrase Moses, by "those standing there that day, and those not standing there that day." Despite the venomous animosity that divided them almost all their working lives, Ben-Gurion and Begin were both necessary elements of the creation of a Jewish state. Without either one, Israel might well not have come into being...
...Begin's life had, at its core, an unwavering constant, a guiding principle that shaped everything. It was a life of selfless devotion to his people. That devotion fashioned a life in which determination eradicated fear, hope overcame despondency, love overcame hate, and devotion to both Jews and human beings everywhere coexisted with ease and grace. It was a life of great loyalty--to the people into which he was born, to the woman he loved from the moment he met her, and to the state that he helped create.
That is a legacy infinitely greater than most are able to bequeath. In an era in which many Jews are increasingly dubious about the legitimacy of love for a specific people or devotion to its ancestral homeland, the life and commitments of Begin urge us to look again at what he did and what he stood for, and to imagine--if we dare--the glory of a Jewish people recommitted to the principles that shaped his very being.
Monday, March 3, 2014
Struma's Fate Provides Chilling Reminder of What is at Stake for Israel
Sarah Honig's February 23, 2012 Jerusalem Post article about the Struma's demise is almost unbearably sad. Here are some heart-wrenching excerpts:
...Against the enormity of the then-unfolding Holocaust, the loss at sea of 768 Jewish lives (103 of them babies and children) was at most blithely overlooked as a marginal annotation.
Moreover, although these Jews fled the Nazis, in the pedantic literal sense they weren't executed by Third Reich henchmen.
This atrocity was the coldblooded handiwork of Great Britain (committed while it combated the Germans but remarkably without compassion for their Jewish victims), supposedly neutral Turkey (whose so-called nonalignment didn't extend to outcast Jewish refugees), by the Arabs (who were openly and unreservedly Nazism's avid collaborators and who pressured London into denying endangered Jews asylum in the Jewish homeland) and, finally, by the Russians (who targeted the immobilized sardine can that carried Jews to whom nobody would allow a toehold on terra firma).
The entire world seemed united in signaling Jews how utterly unwanted they were anywhere.
Such apathy-cum-enmity hasn't disappeared.
Only its form and context had mutated but the essence is still ultra-relevant to the Jewish state.
We're still threatened with annihilation. Nonetheless, unmistakable harangues from Tehran notwithstanding, the international community worries about an Israeli preemptive strike--not a genocidal strike against Israel.
The Struma was a barely seaworthy ship packed with Jewish refugees who escaped Nazi-occupied lands only to discover that they were unwelcome anywhere, a situation that emboldened the Nazis to accelerate their plan to kill every Jews on the face of the Earth: if the Jews were considered undesirable by every country in the world, then why should the Nazis think twice about annihilating them? Honig describes how this tragedy unfolded in front of the uncaring eyes of the entire world:
The Struma wasn't struck suddenly. It was slowly tortured, accentuating with demonic deliberation how disposable Jews were, just when genocide's monstrous machinery was switched into high gear. This 75-day shipboard melodrama underscored the total helplessness and humiliation of Jews without power.
Struma passengers gathered in the Romanian port of Constanza on December 8, 1941. For four days, Romanian customs officials "examined" their belongings. In fact, they pilfered all they saw--clothing, underwear, jewelry and most important, food.
The Struma was eventually destroyed by a torpedo blast from a Soviet submarine; everyone onboard perished except for 19 year old David Stoliar, who--in Honig's words--"was imprisoned by the Turks for six weeks for the crime of not drowning."
Oblivion is perhaps the greatest sin against the Struma but also against ourselves. If we forget the Struma, we forget why this country exists, why we struggle for its survival. We forget the justice of our cause.
Dimmed memory and self-destructive perverse morality hinder our ability to protect ourselves from the offspring and torchbearers of the very Arabs who doomed the Struma. They haven't amended their hostile agenda. We just don't care to be reminded.
The state the Jews created is threatened with destruction and its population with obliteration.
Yet there's negligible sympathy for Israel and even less practical support to avert tragedy. The Struma's story is seminal in understanding why the Holocaust was possible and why a second Holocaust cannot be ruled out. More than anything, the Struma powerfully illustrates what happens when Jews rely on others' goodwill.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be well advised to read Honig's article, draw the proper conclusions and act accordingly before Iran uses nuclear weapons to destroy the Jewish State. Netanyahu can be remembered by history as the man who saved Israel or as the man who presided over Israel's destruction.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Carl Sagan's Legacy
Joel Achenbach's Smithsonian article Why Carl Sagan is Truly Irreplaceable describes Sagan's influence as a science popularizer and explores his core beliefs, "including the sense that there is an order and logic to the universe, that it is fundamentally a benign place, congenial to life and even intelligent life. His cosmos was primed for self-awareness. He sensed that humanity was on the cusp of making a cosmic connection with advanced civilizations (and no doubt that a certain Brooklyn native would be in on the conversation!). In effect, he believed he was fortunate enough to live in a special moment."
Sagan did not think that evidence supported the notion that UFOs are spacecraft piloted by intelligent extraterrestrial beings but, like Fox Mulder from "The X-Files," it could be said that Sagan wanted to believe. Shortly before Sagan passed away, he told Achenbach, "I'd rather there be extraterrestrial life discovered in my lifetime than not. I'd hate to die and never know."
While Sagan spoke about "great demotions," David Grinspoon--son of Sagan's best friend Lester Grinspoon--promotes a concept called "Anthropocene," meaning that "human beings are changing the Earth so rapidly and dramatically that our presence is becoming part of the geological record. And we can't pretend it's not happening. We have to learn to manage this place. Grinspoon made an analogy: It's as though we've just awoken to the fact that we're at the wheel of a speeding bus on an unfamiliar road. And we realize we don't know how to drive."
Achenbach concludes that Sagan would not be disturbed by Grinspoon's ideas:
Would Sagan have been able to square his great demotions with this new Anthropocene concept? Of course. The universe isn’t about us. The Earth is but a grain of sand. But upon this humble rock we will make our stand. It’s a task that will require science and reason--but also courage and far-sightedness. So it is that Grinspoon says of his old "Uncle Carl": "Lord knows we need him now."
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
"Might not know it now
But, baby, I'm a star."-- Prince, "Baby I'm a Star"
"When my situation ain't improvin', I'm tryin' to murder everything movin'."--Jay-Z, "Hard Knock Life"
"Fool can't play the wise but the wise can act a fool
I stay cool and mild mannered and just put in my work
Don't push, you don't know what's up under my shirt
Don't you take me for soft, I got a heart that pump
Like a 12 gauge shotty when it starts to dump
You'se a mystery, cause you don't know who you runnin' towards
And got history, that shit is told by who won wars."--Dilated Peoples, "Kindness for Weakness"
"I got so much trouble on my mind
Refuse to lose."--Public Enemy, "Welcome to the Terrordome"
"Never question what I am
Cause it's comin' from the heart."--Public Enemy, "Welcome to the Terrordome"
"When it's sink or swim
You gotta think to win."--Ice Cube, "You Can Do It"
"I'm makin' moves, not fakin' moves."--L.L. Cool J, "Farmers Boulevard (Our Anthem)"
"Don't try to act crazy 'cause the shit don't faze me
If you ran like a punk it wouldn't amaze me."--Ice T, "Colors"
"Circumstances might not allow me to bust
Because they know I got more game than Toys 'R Us."--Tone Loc, "Cutting Rhythms"
"Every time u get some
People wanna take it back
They rather see u on the run
Than see u get it like that
Every time they stop u
Change up like a sock
Every time they try 2 clock u
Tick more than they tock."--Prince, "Push"
"Brother can you paradigm?
Pump, pump, fake, feint, fade, forward, jump, slam dunk...in your face
The tip-off, the tap-in, rushin', jumping, backboard crushing, dunking...in your face
Brother can you paradigm?
Shifting the shapes of things to come
Plays and instant replays are plays to come
Came and went, time well spent
Brother can you Paradigm?"--George Clinton/Prince, "Paradigm"
"Do fries go with that shake?"--George Clinton, "Do Fries Go With That Shake?"
"Sex is not all I think about
It's just all I think about...U."--Prince, "Shhh"
"Every time I comb my hair
Thoughts of U get in my eyes
U're a sinner, I don't care
I just want your creamy thighs."--Prince, "Erotic City"
"What if I called U silly names
Just like the ones that U call me?
What if I filled your eyes with tears
So many that U cannot see?"--Prince, "Billy Jack Bitch"
"You gotta love me or leave me alone."--Brand Nubian, "Love Me or Leave Me Alone"
"He came from somewhere back in her long ago
The sentimental fool don't see
Tryin' hard to recreate
What had yet to be created
Once in her life
She musters a smile
For his nostalgic tale
Never coming near what he wanted to say
Only to realize
It never really was."--Doobie Brothers, "What a Fool Believes"
"I keep your picture
Upon the wall
It hides a nasty stain that's lying there
So don't you ask me
To give it back
I know you know it doesn't mean that much to me
I'm not in love, no no, it's because..."--10CC, "I'm Not in Love"
"You could have been with me
Instead of alone and lonely."--Sheena Easton, "You Could Have Been With Me"
That's 'Retha Franklin
She don't remember
The Queen of Soul
Hard times have befallen
The Soul Survivors
She thinks I'm crazy
But I'm just growing old."--Steely Dan, "Hey Nineteen"
"I've seen your picture
Your name in lights above it
This is your big debut
It's like a dream come true
And when you smile for the camera
I know they're gonna love it."--Steely Dan, "Peg"
"I don't need you to worry for me cause I'm all right
I don't want you to tell me it's time to come home
I don't care what you say anymore this is my life
Go ahead with your own life leave me alone."--Billy Joel, "My Life"
"They say there's a heaven for those who will wait
Some say it's better but I say it ain't
I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints
The sinners are much more fun...
You know that only the good die young."--Billy Joel, "Only the Good Die Young"
"All you got is this moment."--INXS, "Need You Tonight"
"Well I'm sick of it
It's a load of shit
We could stop the world
And let off all the fools
And let them go live
With their guns in the sky."--INXS, "Guns in the Sky"
"Knowledge, wisdom and understanding brings long life and health
Think anything else and ya playin' yaself."--Jeru the Damaja, "Ya Playin' Yaself"
"I'm a true master you can check my credentials
Cause I choose to use my infinite potential...
I'm the mack so I don't need to tote a Mac
My attack is purely mental and its nature's not hate
It's meant to wake ya up out of your brainwashed state."--Jeru tha Damaja, "Come Clean"
"You wouldn't let me say the words I longed to say
You didn't want to see life through my eyes
[Express yourself, don't repress yourself]
You tried to shove me back inside your narrow room
And silence me with bitterness and lies
[Express yourself, don't repress yourself]."--Madonna, "Human Nature"
"Don't care what people say
Just follow your own way
Don't give up and use the chance
To return to innocence
That's not the beginning of the end
That's the return to yourself
The return to innocence."--Enigma, "Return to Innocence"
"I ask you lord why you enlightened me
Without the enlightenment of all my folks
He said 'cause I set myself on a quest for truth
And he was there to quench my thirst
But I am still thirsty..."--Arrested Development, "Tennessee"
"Count the Days" is a powerful song with a deceptively simple melody that almost sounds like a lullabye--and that melody is completely incongruous with the song's harsh but understandably strident lyrics directed toward oppressors of all kinds:
"Count the Days"
I have been "counting the days" my entire life but I doubt that I will live long enough to see things turn out the way that they are supposed to be.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Love is What Matters Most
Money, accomplishments and championships are great but I have learned that without love none of those things matter very much. Love comes in many forms but without love there is no meaning. Last year, I offered this definition of love:
Love is an easy word to throw around and many people use it far too casually.
True love is innocent, pure and deep.
True love is based not on how much you can get but how much you can give.
I was searching for something that I thought I had glimpsed and that I hoped existed but that I had not yet experienced--but Julie Sheil has helped me to understand and enjoy love at a level that I could not previously imagine. I have always been driven, self-centered and very narrowly focused on specific, individual goals--but I have learned that life can only be fully appreciated by opening one's heart and mind to a wider perspective that includes another person's dreams, hopes and goals.
I once thought that opening my heart would make me weak, soft and vulnerable, that it would prevent me from reaching my goals--but now I see that the opposite is true: opening my heart frees my mind from irrelevant concerns and provides a serenity that my soul lacked.
The power of love cannot be adequately described by mere words--it is mystical, mysterious, powerful and wonderful, though it can also be overwhelming and frightening. Here is my humble attempt to express the joy and peace that I feel, rendered in the form of an alphabetical acrostic about the most special and most beautiful woman who I have ever met:
Just the prettiest smile in the world, a smile that can light up a room and make my heart sing with joy.
Unique ability to soothe my soul and focus my energies in positive directions.
Lovely, piercing eyes--windows to a fiery, yet caring soul.
Incredible lust for life--you love to learn new things, try new experiences, find out what the world has to offer.
Enormous patience when dealing with the gaps in my knowledge about certain day to day matters.
Monday, January 20, 2014
Caroline Glick Describes Why Barack Obama's Mideast Policy is Misguided
Glick astutely observes that U.S. officials feel free to publicly blast Ya'alon even though they held their tongues not long ago when Saudi Prince Alaweed bin Talal told journalist Jeffrey Greenberg, "There’s no confidence in the Obama administration doing the right thing with Iran. We’re really concerned--Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Middle Eastern countries about this." The Obama administration is not the least bit afraid that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will have the courage to challenge their policies and/or speak up in support of Ya'alon; they know that Netanyahu will hang Ya'alon out to dry just like Netanyahu has betrayed the voters who thought that he would uphold the anti-terrorism principles that he espoused for years in his eloquent speeches and books, words that now seem hollow because of his consistent failure to implement them in his policy decisions.
Glick describes why Obama's Mideast policies are viewed with contempt by friend and foe alike:
Syria is a humanitarian and geopolitical nightmare with global implications.
Rather than do everything possible to strengthen moderate forces in Syria, like the Kurds, and cultivate, train and arm regime opponents who can fight both the Assad regime and al-Qaida rebels, Kerry has devoted himself to demanding that Israel release more Palestinian terrorist murderers from prison.
Rather than protect Lebanon from the predations of Iran and Syria to ensure its independence, Kerry is holding marathon meetings with Netanyahu to try to coerce him into helping the PLO build another Jew-free terrorist state in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.
Rather than try to blunt the growing power of Hezbollah--Iran’s terrorist army--in Syria, the US’s policy is inviting Iran, the party most responsible for the war, to join the phony peacemakers club at Geneva.
As for the rest of the region, from Tunisia to Bahrain, from Egypt and Libya to Iraq, and Yemen, Kerry and the Obama administration as a whole are content to watch on the sidelines as al-Qaida reemerges as a significant force, and as Iran undermines stability in country after country.
Then of course, there is Iran itself, and its nuclear weapons program.
After the six-party nuclear deal with Iran was concluded on Monday, Iran’s leaders declared victory over the US. They boasted that the most dangerous components of their nuclear weapons program are unaffected by the deal they just concluded with the Americans. They laid a wreath on the grave of Hezbollah arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh, who masterminded the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 243 US servicemen. And they forced Lebanon’s Sunnis to accept a Hezbollah-dominated government.
Obama administration officials publicly accused Ya'alon and Israel of being "ungrateful" but Glick sets the record straight:
Americans are getting the same message from allies throughout the Middle East. Under Obama, America’s regional policies are so counterproductive that the US has come to be seen as the foreign policy equivalent of a drunk driver.
As the US’s strongest ally, and also as a country that has depended for decades on US support, Israel is a passenger in the back seat of the car. On the one hand, we are happy for the ride. On the other hand, the administration’s driving is endangering our survival.
The United States and the rest of the world will long rue the fact that Barack Obama was granted two terms to misguide U.S. Mideast policy--but Israelis have to hope and pray that their country merely survives long enough to rue that fact, because even though Iran's nuclear program is a global threat it is an existential threat primarily for Israel, a reality that Netanyahuu can ill afford to ignore for much longer.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Ariel Sharon's Legacy is Tainted by his Abandonment of Fundamental Historical and Legal Principles
Prior to becoming Prime Minister, Sharon understood that language is important and he consistently said that Israel had "liberated" Judea, Samaria and Gaza, even though many people incorrectly insist on calling those territories "occupied." According to international law, Judea, Samaria and Gaza are unallocated portions of the Palestine Mandate. Those who refer to Israel as an "illegal occupier" are misinterpreting and/or misunderstanding international law.
Israel has a strong claim to Judea, Samaria and Gaza based on a host of international legal documents, including the Palestine Mandate and the Balfour Declaration, but even if one disregards those historical/legal precedents it is important to remember that Jordan and Egypt used Judea/Samaria and Gaza respectively as staging grounds for wars of aggression against Israel (and, prior to those wars, those countries used those territories as staging grounds for terrorist attacks against Israel).
Israel's policies of appeasement--and the attitude of large segments of the international political and media communities--make no sense, because instead of Israel begging that the Arab countries recognize her right to exist (a right that every other country in the world correctly takes for granted) in exchange for receiving land that had been used as staging grounds for anti-Israel aggression Israel should have been asking for reparations as the victim of unprovoked attacks. If Canada attacked the northern United States and the United States responded by capturing Quebec one can rest assured that the United States would not return Quebec in exchange for Canadian recognition of the United States' right to exist--and even that analogy does not go far enough, because in that scenario the United States' only claim to Quebec would be that Quebec had been used as a staging ground for an aggressive war, while in contrast Israel's valid claim to Judea, Samaria and Gaza predates the repeated Arab attempts to annihilate the Jewish State.
If international law is interpreted any other way then that would mean that Country A could attack Country B, lose land during the subsequent war and then insist that Country B either return that land or offer reparations. Furthermore, Jordan--which occupied Judea and Samaria from 1948 and 1967--was never recognized internationally as the rightful owner of those areas and Egypt's claim to Gaza is dubious as well. The "illegal occupier" of Judea and Samaria was Jordan, not Israel! In 1970, three years after the Six Day War, former State Department Legal Advisor Stephen Schwebel explained the legal status of Judea and Samaria: "Where the prior holder of territory had seized that territory unlawfully, the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense has, against that prior holder, better title."
Israel's intimate ties to Judea, Samaria and Gaza are not just legal formalities; the rich Jewish history associated with Judea, Samaria and Gaza predates the creation of both Christianity and Islam. It is also worth mentioning that not only has there never been an Arab country called "Palestine" but that the p sound does not even exist in Arabic; the word Palestine has been co-opted and corrupted in recent decades by Israel's enemies but it originated as a Latin term used by the Roman occupiers to rename Judea, the ancient Jewish state that had provided particularly tough resistance to Roman conquest. The Arabic word Filastin is simply a transliteration of the Latin term and the assertion that there is a distinctive Palestinian Arab people separate from the larger Arab community is a late 20th century propaganda phenomenon--arguably the most successful propaganda campaign ever, completely turning historical truth upside down (the Jerusalem Post was originally called the Palestine Post but just a few decades later Israel's enemies have convinced most of the world that there is such a thing as a separate Palestinian Arab nation, which historically makes about as much sense as saying that there is a separate Michigan nation that is entitled to exist independently of the United States).
Sharon's military achievements and his bold advocacy for Israel's rights made him a hero in the eyes of Israrel's supporters and a villain in the eyes of Israel's enemies--but after Sharon became Israel's Prime Minister in 2001 he made a shocking and abrupt ideological transformation, unilaterally withdrawing from Gaza and four communities in Samaria and making plans for more unilateral withdrawals from Judea and Samaria; if he had not been incapacitated by a stroke in 2006 there is no telling how much more damage Sharon might have done to Israel's security and how many thousands of Jewish residents he may have uprooted from their homes. It is a bitter historical irony that Sharon, the general who helped save Israel from defeat in several wars, became a Prime Minister who inflicted ethnic cleansing on his own people, forcibly removing Jewish families from their homes.
Yitzhak Shamir was a man of principle, in stark contrast to Israeli Prime Ministers Shimon Peres, Ehud Olmert and Benjamin Netanyahu. Ariel Sharon will always be a seminal figure in Israeli and Jewish history but his ultimate legacy is that he betrayed his most cherished principles and he betrayed the voters who elected him because they believed that he would uphold those very principles.
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