Friday, January 06, 2006

Sharon Perspectives

Imshin and Martin Kramer have the two most interesting views of Sharon I've seen today. First from Not a Fish:
"Hanan Crystal, top Israeli political analyst, said something on the radio yesterday about the shame of Sharon coming into office so late in life and for such a short period. He was echoing my sentiments exactly. For although Sharon has been a major political figure for years, until very recently he wasn’t in control and therefore he was always making a lot of noise and doing controversial things to attract attention. Once he was prime minister and it was all up to him and him alone, he changed his tune. We discovered that his lack of fear and his ‘bulldozer’ quality that was so derided, disliked, even feared before was really what we had needed all the time."

And on Sandbox, a post I really can't excerpt effectively, so go read the whole thing.

It seems he'll be remembered in Israel primarily for his style as much as his substance, which changed a lot depending on circumstances and what he saw as the demands of the times. The not-really-eulogies (because he isn't actually dead at the moment) remind me of American writings about Harry Truman, though with a sense of unfulfilled promise unusual for a man in his late 70's.

UPDATE: Jonathan Edelstein is also worth reading. Here's a key paragraph:
"But there's more to it than that. Israel itself is a nation that was born in blood; it has sometimes been brutal and, like all nations, it has committed crimes. Yet Israel is also the realization of a dream, and its history has been marked with achievements, grand gestures and limitless promise. These things, glories and crimes together, add up to something I love. And in the past two years, it's become clear how much Sharon's story was Israel's - that of the old warrior who was there from the beginning but ultimately realized the sacrifices that had to be made for peace. Maybe this was the reason that Sharon was able to push through a necessary measure that the people wanted but that was opposed both by a politically influential minority and by the mythology that the settler movement had created around itself. And maybe that's why the thought of him departing from politics in this way leaves a hole in the heart of even a confirmed leftist like me."


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