Shalom Life | May 08, 2014

Harper Calls Sharon one of Israel's 'Staunchest Defenders'

The Canadian Prime Minister spoke highly of the former Israeli Prime Minister, who passed away Saturday

By: Zak Edwards

Published: January 13th, 2014 in News » World

After eight years in a coma, former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon died Saturday. He was 85.

The former soldier and politician, described as a “a hero to his people, first as a soldier and then a statesman” by a UN spokesman Saturday, has left the nation of Israel to grieve, not only for a man of great conviction and resolve, but who had the very survival of the Jewish state as a lifelong goal.

Appropriately, the IDF has announced a training facility will be named after Sharon when it opens later this year.

Many world leaders have spoken about Sharon during the weekend, sending their regards to his family and the people of Israel. Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, who met Sharon shortly before his stroke, said "If the Ariel Sharon I talked to was able to carry out all the things he believed, I think there could have been progress made."

Harper went on to describe Sharon as "one of the architects of modern-day Israel" and one of its "staunchest defenders." "A renowned military leader, Mr. Sharon pursued the security of Israel with unyielding determination that was recognized by friends and foes alike," Harper added.

Sharon rose to prominence in the 1948 War of Independence, leading night raids on bases and major roads used by the opposing Arab forces. Sharon was noted for his aggressive tactics that saw him quickly rise the ranks and much of his subsequent career was marked by insubordination, disobedience, and aggression, matched only by his brilliant command and passion.

As Sharon's military prowess developed, so did his tactical genius, which is often analyzed by military strategists for their complexity and effectiveness. His manoeuvres in the Yom Kippur War are widely considered the turning point in the conflict, effectively winning the war for Israeli forces with his deft use of ground forces.

When Sharon entered the political arena, he did so with the same attitude that won him both enemies and friends in the IDF, using mergers to ensure his place as the Minister of Agriculture before becoming the Minister of Defence in 1981. As U.S. senator John Kerry said after Sharon’s death, “he sought to bend the course of history toward peace, even as it meant testing the patience of his own longtime supporters and the limits of his own, lifelong convictions in the process." His rivalry with Yitzhak Shamir was widely known, and Sharon even attempted a coup against Shamir’s party leadership in 1990.

Despite a lifetime of fighting, it was Sharon who spearheaded the unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2003, a move welcomed by many left-leaning Israelis and staunchly resisted by his own party. Sharon openly stated he was in favour of establishing a Palestinian state in the future. He formed a new centrist party, Kadima for the 2006 elections and was fully expected to win and move forward with his plans for withdrawal from most of the West Bank. Unfortunately, Sharon’s political career was cut short by a stroke and subsequent coma from which he would never wake up. After eight years, Sharon passed away after a week of quick health decline.

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