Death of Ariel Sharon: Was he a leader or a butcher?
JERUSALEM — The death of former Israeli prime minister and military leader Ariel Sharon was met with emotional responses Saturday in Israel and the Palestinian territories; in some quarters eliciting cries of sorrow, in others, tears of joy.
“My dear friend, Arik Sharon, lost his final battle today,” eulogized President Shimon Peres, among the last surviving members of Israel’s founding generation. He called Sharon a brave soldier and a daring leader and one of Israel’s “most important architects.”
Peres said Sharon knew no fear and “certainly never feared vision.” He knew to take difficult decisions and implement them, the president said.
In Gaza, meanwhile,Hamasspokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called the day historic. Sharon’s hands were “stained with the blood of the Palestinian people” in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank, he said, calling Sharon a war criminal.
Whether you agree with the current state of Israeli politics or not, I think this is a fair question. Clearly many people hold widely differing purviews on the legacy of Ariel Sharon. Undoubtedly he was a polarizing figure. Most Americans don’t agree with many of the ultra-conservative viewpoints expressed by Sharon from years long passed. However, from a diplomatic perspective, most Americans are also aware that US-Israeli relations hold key strategic interests for US foreign diplomacy in the region.
Perhaps some more productive questions to consider for the future are: What were the scope of US-Israeli relations in the past, and what did it accomplish, or fall short of achieving? And, what will be the legacy of diplomacy for the US going forward?